Some how the question of “Do you support our troops” came into my awareness today. I immediately felt uncomfortable about that question, and I began thinking about why.
It’s what we call a loaded question. There’s an inherent suggestion that if the answer is “no”, you’re going to be judged and cast out of favor. It’s not as if someone asking a question like this is doing so to start a thoughtful dialog. No, this is the kind of question that creates exclusion and separation.
For me, this inquiry leads back to a much deeper question: “Where am I coming from?” What’s the motivation and intent behind what I’m thinking, saying, or doing? And is that in line with my own core values?
To answer that, I have to know what my core values are. What is most important to me, based on all the experiences I’ve had thus far in life.
For most of us, it takes time to discover what our core values are, and they’re apt to change as we grow. Ask one person about core values, and you might get the answer that family is the most important thing in life. To another, it’s freedom. And to someone else, it’s security. I’ve certainly felt all those values were important at some point in my own life, though for me things are a little different these days.
Everyone has a right to their own values, and their own beliefs. But no one has a right to force their values and beliefs on someone else. Where we get into trouble with each other, is making our values the only ones that matter. It’s called being self righteous. Or just plain selfish. And it causes separation, antagonism, and ultimately war.
And as we should know by now, when we go to war, everyone looses, and no one wins. The mindset of “us and them”, and the hatred it breeds, leads to pain and loss, and is a luxury we can no longer afford. Us and them is not real, it’s only in our head, and comes from ego. In truth, humanity is one family, and the way we can succeed is to look out for each other, and not fight with each other as if we were all strangers.
Sure, all that is well and good, but what about the world we find ourselves in, where huge corporate entities control governments, finance wars, and contribute to separation? And where there are real threats from extreme terrorists with nothing to loose. How can we change all that?
I believe we change it in a billion different ways. If your calling is politics, activism, teaching, or outward support of humanity in any way, then by all means follow that calling. But each of us make a difference in profound ways every day, not so much by what we do out in the world, but in the amount of separation and hatred we generate inside by the thoughts we think, the words we say, and ultimately by the actions we take. Or by the amount of love we hold inside and share.
What is my motivation behind that thought, statement, or action, and is it in line with my core values?
This is where we make the most difference. Think our attitude doesn’t make much of a difference in the world? Think again. We’re all in the same energetic soup here on Earth. And our thoughts, words, and actions contribute on a moment to moment basis to the seasoning. Currently, there is a ton of fear in the world, and it drives the anger, which drives the separation, which causes endless pain and suffering.
Imagine what the world would be like if that fear were gone. Everything would shift and change, and quickly.
So, do we change it by meditating and imagining columns of light and love, and praying for peace? A little. But we change it a lot more by doing something more difficult.
When we come to the point in life where our core values are about love, for ourselves and everyone around us, with no exceptions, then we can make some radical choices, and really start to make a difference in the world. It’s pretty easy to say a prayer. It’s much more difficult to get honest with ourselves about the fear and anger we hold inside, and start letting that go. That’s radical self honesty and awareness, and it’s not for beginners.
Once more, “What is my motivation behind that thought, statement, or action, and does it support my core values?” That’s something we can consider over and over again, hour to hour, and do some serious work on ourselves.
But I warn you now: Don’t pick up this idea until you’re ready. Because once you do, it’s going to turn you inside out, and begin to change everything in you that’s not real. True self honesty just might be the hardest, most radical, and most dynamic thing that ever happens to us. May it have its way with everyone.
Thank you for reading and listening. For relevant guided meditations, please visit Max Highstein’s category, Personal Growth & Recovery.