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Convicted Civility Demands Openness and Curiosity

Published on 14/01/11
by randy

Bridges, Not Walls

Bridges, Not Walls

It’s been an amazing week in light of the Tucson shooting.  While the pain, wounding and suffering are massive, it’s interesting what happens when we’re drawn into the pause of violence’s aftermath.  While our ‘important’ people are very cautious to not blame our mindless, angry speech for the actions of a mentally ill shooter, there has been much needed attention put to the power of words and our respect for one another as human beings.  Unfortunately, not a lot has been said about just what it means to be civil.  I understand that the word originates from the capacity to live well in a city.  It goes beyond tolerance to a sense of interconnection and interdependence.  It drives from compassion, generosity and common sense to evolve.  This would necessarily require a vow to open mindedness.  The origin of politics goes to civility, seeking common sense solutions for the best of the city.  Unfortunately, greed for power, authority and wealth have created selfish interests which undermine our willingness for civil discussion.  It’s rare to see a common sense dialogue.  Most of our legislators are trained attorneys, skilled in the techniques of persuasion.  Their educational training places almost no attention to the skills of active listening and dialogue.  We’ve seen our politics digress to arguments of blame, manipulation, fear, intimidation, and every tactic of persuasion possible.  Our political campaigns focus upon difference through combat style debates and inflammatory TV, Internet and radio ads that would have us believe we’re a truly polarized divided nation.  The nature of politics today has been anything but civil attempts to make common sense decisions for the best of all with harm to none.  So it’s been refreshing to see this topic at least touched upon over the past few days.

Last night President Obama referenced the ultimate question, pointing out that as we face our death the real sense of our life meaning will come down to how well we’ve loved.  It won’t revolve around how many metals we’ve received, how much fame and fortune, how much power and material accumulation, etc.  We’ll say good-bye to all of these, yet the results of our loving actions will continue.  The results of the heroic actions in Tucson will forever live on much like those of the 9/11 heroes.  Their wholehearted, open actions of courage raised the consciousness of the planet.  The most poignant message from President Obama was a challenge to honor those heroes of Tucson with speech befitting to this higher consciousness.  So just how do we do this?

It makes no difference what political party, race, religion, etc., one belongs.  What counts is our convicted civility to hold an open mind.  A great democracy demands we step from our ‘righteous pride’ and sense of ‘knowing’ to a humble curiosity to grow and learn.  This takes the greatest of courage.  Can I face others whose concepts and thoughts are vastly different from mine with a fresh, open mind, willing to explore?  Can I dedicate to cultivating surprise and curiosity in my journey to deepen understanding?  Can I approach others from a deeper desire to uncover our common sense rather than judgmentally focusing upon our apparent differences?  This requires the deepest courage and results in the best society.  It drives from faith and hope, from a much deeper knowing.  It has nothing to do with persuasion.  There’s a vow to cultivate the open mind, to step from fear in courage to participate, and to humbly receive the gift of this participation.  It’s a recognition that our very embodiment as a human is precious gift, providing the opportunity to participate.  It’s a realization to convict ourselves to joy, no matter what.  It’s conviction to dialog, to steward a hopeful future, and to humbly hold our place as an interconnected being.

Our great spiritual teachers strongly recommend space to cultivate our appreciation through prayer and/or meditation.  This has been a great week for this.  Again, it occurred during a week of Oneness (1/11/11), a week where we could all more deeply touch the gift of our humanity.

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