The storming of the US Capitol on 6 January left me feeling deeply disturbed. My soul was bruised to witness such blatant racism and rejection of democratic process. But in the days following I was equally bruised by some of the responses from the political left. Make no mistake, I believe that there should be consequences. Those who broke the law and did harm to innocent people should be legally prosecuted. But no peace or healing can be found if we simply add to the polarisation.
A few days after the protest, I suggested on Twitter that perhaps the storming of the Capitol showed that many people were feeling unheard. I admit that the tweet was poorly worded, but I was thinking of those who weren’t part of the protests, but who worry about the trajectory of the world. Two people who don’t follow me, and know nothing about me apart from that one tweet, immediately laid into me. They called me an ignorant, arrogant apologist for racial injustice. No amount of explaining or pointing to my history of support for BLM and other justice movements could change their view of me. I was ‘the enemy’ and I needed to be silenced.
It made me aware of how very polarised our world has become. And I’ve been wondering how we can respond.
CONNECTION IS NOT AN OPTION
In my first blog post of this year, I suggested that, if we are to thrive, we will need to embrace change and learn to evolve consciously. I followed this with an invitation to feel more alive by actively participating in things that bring Life into our world. Last week, I explored how we can be more creative in facing the big and little deaths that come into our lives.
If we are to evolve consciously and intentionally, we have to engage meaningfully with both Life and Death. These are two of the primary forces that drive evolution forward. But there is a third force that is equally important: Love or Connection.
Science has shown us that the entire universe is connected. The pandemic has shown us, through painful personal experience, that what happens in one corner of the world affects the entire planet. Which means that our best lives cannot be found in separateness, isolation, and polarisation. If we are to thrive, personally and collectively, we need to expand our capacity to connect—even across our differences.
MAKING CONNECTING A HABIT
It shouldn’t be a surprise that consciously evolving toward our best selves includes learning to connect. Almost all spiritual traditions put love—which is the glue that connects everything—at the centre of their teaching. We cannot thrive, and we cannot find our most vibrant lives personally or collectively, without learning to connect deeply with ourselves, each other, our world, and the Divine. So how do we learn to live more connected lives?
Start With Yourself
We can’t connect with others if we aren’t connected with ourselves. So any journey into deeper connectedness begins with learning to know and love ourselves. This isn’t primarily about the self that fits the expectations and demands of society or those around us. It’s about getting real with ourselves about who we are in our most authentic selves, the good and the bad, the strong and the weak. It’s about getting to know all the selves that live within us and learning to accept and love the reality that is us.
So make time to connect with yourself. Listen to the voice of your intuition. Train yourself to identify and interpret the messages that come from your body, your emotions, and the unexpected, unbidden thoughts that arise in your mind. And as you become more comfortable and intimate with yourself, you may just discover a Divine Light and an echo of the Divine Voice in your own soul.
Get Into The Flow
As we become more at home in our own skin, we may find that we more easily move into what scientists, sportspeople, musicians, and artists call a ‘flow state’. We’ve all had tastes of experiences when we lose our self-consciousness, get lost in the moment and the passion of what we’re doing, and feel connected with the cosmos.
Paradoxically, it is often when we are most grounded in our bodies, that we feel most transcendent. Such experiences can happen when we’re playing sport or engaged in creative endeavours. But they can also happen during times of profound sexual intimacy, of witnessing great beauty or nobility. The point is to learn to give ourselves to these transcendent experiences and to learn to live from the sense of connectedness they bring.
It’s almost a cliché to say that we don’t really listen to each other, but perhaps the truth is more nuanced. There is a lot of listening going on in our information-drenched world, but not a lot of hearing. Much of the time we listen for no reason other than to formulate a response and discredit the other person’s perspective. This aggressive listening only leads to further polarisation.
But we can connect more deeply and help the world to be a more peaceful and compassionate place if we can learn to listen with curiosity and openness. We are far more likely to hear another person accurately when we are willing to lay aside our assumptions and try to understand. As we become more proficient at the skill of hearing, we will experience more moments of deep connection with others. And we will discover the wonderful joy of sharing safe spaces where we can all authentically be ourselves, even if we disagree.
Observe The Patterns
There are systems, patterns and connections happening all around us all the time. If we are willing to do the work to observe and learn from these patterns, we will find ways to be more connected. We can learn to understand how ecosystems work and how insects, animals, and plants combine to bring us food. And we can practice being participants in the processes of our planet, rather than seeing ourselves as masters of the earth who can take what we want without considering the consequences.
LIVE TOGETHER OR DIE
We all need to connect. We need it personally for our health and well-being. But our interconnected world needs us to discover that our best life is tied up with the best lives of all the other persons, creatures, and things that make up our world. We can try to deny it and live in our little factions and cliques. But we will never find the life we long for, or create the world we want, by drawing lines and creating separations. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must learn to live together as [siblings] or die together as fools.”
If you want to learn to connect more deeply with others, why not join the EvoFaith Tribe? We’re an open and inclusive online community where we explore all things related to evolutionary spirituality. And everyone is welcome.
You can also practice connecting by sharing this post with others who will enjoy it, and by connecting with me on social media (see the links below). Or we can connect right here. Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s keep the conversation going.
We can’t survive without each other. So let’s start learning to connect. It really is a matter of life and death.
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