After almost three decades of listening to clients from all levels of society talking about the muddle that life can be, it is clear to me that tolerance – accepting the views of others – is the human asset that we too often lack and must acquire in order to achieve the amity we seek, in relationships, and for our very existence as a peaceful society.
Perhaps the great teacher, Yogi Bhajan, said it best, “If you don’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”
As a Kundalini yoga student, I have heard this quote many times over the years, but its meaning has been highlighted with vivid underscoring since the horrendous episode in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. I cannot fathom what possesses fellow humans to exhibit such hatred for other human beings!
Our DNA is all virtually the same; we share 99% to 99.9% of our genes with each other. What is behind such repellent behavior?
Carol Anderson, PhD, chairwoman of African-American studies at Emory University, wrote an article for the Washington Post entitled “White Supremacy as a Cultural Drug Addiction.” She cites the involvement of a number of psycho-social factors leading to addition, primarily the negative emotions attendant to maintaining economic and social dominance in the face of African-Americans aspiration for equal opportunity.
As a therapist who often works with compulsive behaviors, I can see her point clearly. Addictions are a way to avoid dealing with emotions. Think of emotions as energy (e-motion), i.e. energy in motion, often characterized as a ‘wave of energy.’ The addiction is ducking under that wave!
What emotions are the alt-right avoiding and unwilling to confront?..My guess is fear of being displaced and shame at condoning the abomination of slavery – feelings often disguised as anger and in the case of the Charlottesville event, anger expressed as hate.
To avoid the fear and shame, the angrier one has to become and the more virulent the hate that is expressed. The transitive relationship is clear: the alt-right really hate themselves!
It is crystal clear that regardless of family background, varied cultures and distinct physical environments, we all share common ground. When individuals come together to form groups; be they classified as Alt right, ISIS or white supremacists; be they the US Congress, the PTA or Black Lives Matter; the group’s collective conscience is the sum total of each individual’s personal set of values.
And that is where the antidote to this addiction of hate being spawned by the Alt-right is found. It comes from Mark Heyer, the father of the young woman who was killed in the Charlottesville melee, who in his eulogy for his daughter Heather called for forgiveness in place of hate.
The antidote comes from each of us, personally. We must look into our hearts and find tolerance – the human asset that we too often lack and must acquire in order to achieve the amity we seek, in relationships, and for our very existence as a peaceful society.