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Holding Your Center: Why Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence Won the Debates

Published on 05/10/16
by randy

I’m not much for the debate format. When looking for real character in national leaders, perhaps the most important qualities for me are how well they can listen and how well they can hold their center/balance when under attack. I’m looking for the strength of their backbone (courage to stand strong), wishbone (intention and faith to steward our communities, nation and planet to sustainable actions that have concern for all), humor bone (ability to find the humor in oneself and situations, to not take oneself too seriously) and hollow bone (ability to be flexible, acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers, that deeper listening and respect for one another goes a long way to a bigger solution).

We want leaders that authentically show loving kindness to those they serve, that are capable to meet others in their suffering, that can serve to feed hope and joy in themselves and others, even through the most difficult of times, and perhaps most importantly, can ‘hold their center’. Some have called this virtue ‘equanimity’. It’s a powerful trait that comes from a strong sense of belonging to something bigger than one’s image of self. When we’re caught in notions of ‘us vs. them’ we tend to leave that bigger sense of support, a support that our Declaration of Independence has called Divine Providence. Our two party system has us attacking one another much like cancer cells in our body. We all want the body to live, yet we’ve separated from our spiritual mandate to care for one another as ourselves, attacking one another as an enemy over seeking understanding from our common dilemma…to live in harmony in a rapidly changing planet. We ‘think’ we’re right and they’re wrong. We become vulnerable to the good opinion of others, seeking approval from others, caught in the notion we can ‘change them’, denying the very freedom our forefathers advocated in founding our country.

So why did Donald Trump and Tim Kaine lose? They were thrown off center and lost their balance when under attack. None of us truly know what we’ll do when under attack, but we do know it takes a dedicated life practice to ‘hold our center’. The reactions of Trump and Kaine clearly showed me their inability to solidly hold their balance when arrows were thrown their way. Clinton and Pence held their posture without ‘losing it’, without losing their composure. We’ve seen Clinton hold her composure under hours of exhaustive scrutiny from a legislative inquiry. It’s why it was quite humorous to many of us when Trump questioned her stamina to hold center and awareness through difficult circumstance.

We tend to stray from discussing our spiritual practices when discussing politics, falling back on the ‘church separate from state’ mandate. Yet, we’re a spiritual country/planet and we know that our back bone builds ‘unborn security’ through spiritual practice. The more we cultivate our sense of wonder for the Mystery/Divine/God (whatever you call it), the more willing we are to cherish the moment, acknowledge change and accept the reality of impermanence. Moving to a spiritual mandate over materialistic mandate, the more we can break the illusion of our separateness, and the better we can see the need to meet one another with loving kindness and compassion in the midst of our joy and suffering. This spiritual awareness moves us from warring monologue to an invitation to dialogue. It moves us to be more scrutinizing of our actions, aiming to not cause harm. Yet, to the extent we’re caught in our ego, sense of ‘rightness’, and the illusion of our separateness, the more vulnerable we are to losing our center when the earthquake happens.

I can’t say with any certainty who will hold their center in the face of the rapidly changing times we’re now facing. I do know that whoever loses their center usually makes a mess of things, reacting from greed or fear. I do know that these positions of leadership require a solid backbone and having watched all of the political debates thus far, Donald Trump and Tim Kaine have shown weakness in their backbone. Every spiritual tradition advises a daily ‘practice’ for growing deeper into these various bones. As a voter, I would love to have an interviewer ask what these candidates ‘do’ rather than what they ‘believe’ when it comes to their life deepening into the four bones (back, wish, humor and hollow). We’re looking for who’s ‘real’, who’s got authenticity. They fight one another on this issue. The media is mandated to report conflict and perpetuates the fight. Yet, when it comes to our real security, it will be the leader who can hold the reactive mind at bay with a backbone that can meet the moment with the most balanced response for the welfare, stewardship and sustainability of the family, community, nation and planet.

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