Editor’s Note: This article was written in September 2012 but its message continues to be relevant today…..
As we approach the 2012 elections, the political rhetoric is reaching epic proportions. An unfortunate and all too frequent byproduct of our political discourse is that political disagreements tend to veer into the area of personal attacks.
There’s a saying in the Bible that comes to mind here – “Judge not least you be judged.” My favorite interpretation of this quote is that it is telling us that whenever we judge someone or something, our act of judging says more about who we really are than it does about the other person or situation.
But let’s stop and be clear here – the “judging” we’re talking about does not preclude our exhibiting discernment. There is nothing inappropriate about us preferring one thing over another. That’s a natural part of being human. We all have preferences, be it in food, music, books, movies, people we like to hang out with, and even in our political opinions about how things ought to be handled.
And, there is nothing inappropriate about having healthy boundaries when someone in their words and actions moves into the area of causing you harm or restricting your rights. We all have the right to express our beliefs and live our lives freely so long as they do not impinge upon the freedoms of others.
Yet, when we disagree with someone and then feel compelled to move into the realm of judging the person negatively – speaking badly about them, spreading untruths about them, or doing anything that judges the person simply because you disagree with them – that action really is a judgment of yourself.
It’s okay to disagree with any of the policies of Obama or Romney or any other political candidate. But what happens when you let that disagreement of their actions or policies shift into disliking or hating the person?
First, this says that you have become so mentally and emotionally locked into believing that your beliefs are “right” – to a degree you have become “righteous” – that you’ve closed your mind to the possibility of another way of seeing the situation. Has the sin of hubris become so embedded in you that you can no longer contemplate being wrong about something? Your judgment says that you have taken in all of the facts around the situation, applied the highest level of analysis, and then determined the only appropriate course of action. You are so right in your own mind; anyone who disagrees with you must be demonized.
Secondly, your judgment of the person allows us to know this about you – you are living in a world of separation rather than unity. You see people in competition with one another rather than being unique and different expressions of one life. The truth is – we are more alike than we are different. The more we focus on our differences, the more we grow the sense of separation from other people within our minds. You allowing your difference of opinion with another person to move into disliking and attacking the person says that you live in a world of winners and losers where we are all separate and apart from one another – and – you must win at all cost.
The reality is we are all connected; we are all part of the same life. We are all born into the human experience and move through our own personal timeline. We all get a limited sense of this human experience and form beliefs and judgments based on that experience. We are all on the same journey from knowing our original unity to believing we are separate then back to realizing our unity. Many of us are stuck in the middle of our journey.
So my hope for all of us as we move through the next few weeks – and through the rest of our time here on earth – is that we each have our own unique perspective on life but that we never lose knowing at some level that we are all one. Yes, let’s have healthy discourse and disagreement on political issues. Such healthy discourse opens us to new ways of seeing issues and life. But let’s all take steps in our own life to reduce and ultimately eliminate allowing disagreements to turn into personal judgments. When others around you go down that path, you take a higher road – one filled with understanding and love.
Peace and blessings,
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!