Yes, I know, the term “kind and fair political decisions” sounds like an oxymoron. The fact that we might make that joke is a sign of the times that we live in – seeing our political system as anything but kind or fair.
There has always been divisiveness in human interactions and politics. Even George Washington wrote and published his 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. Yet today’s political environment seems especially mired in an inability to make any major decision on the key issues facing our country and the world. The tasks before us seem so daunting and critical. Tie that fact to the failure by our politicians to take any meaningful positive action and it’s easy to get personally frustrated. Rome appears to be burning while we experience leaders with such entrenched positions at odds with one another that the only thing they can do is criticize those who differ from themselves.
Do you feel this frustration? If so, it’s time for each of us to contact our political leadership and demand that they stop the political posturing and work with everyone towards kind and fair political decisions.
How can we make kind and fair political decisions? Here are what I see as seven keys moving us in that direction.
Understand your true motivations for your current political position.
If you have an opinion on the political decision at hand, what are the true reasons for your opinion? All too frequently we can label ourselves as “conservative” or “progressive”, listen to the people and media that supports our self label and accept the opinions of “our tribe” as our position. We need to push beyond the ideas we hear from others in our group and ask ourselves what really are our thoughts behind our stated opinion. The clarity we receive can assist us in navigating to our “bottom line” on the issue and help us in stating it to others.
Recognize your biases and the limitations of your knowledge.
First, no one is smart enough to know everything about everything. No matter how intelligent we may be nor how much we believe we understand the issue, there is always something more to learn about it. Second, our life experiences have led us to our current state of awareness. No matter how logical and smart we think we are, the path of our life has led us to our current worldview. Our outlook always impacts our belief. Most of the time we hold opinions with total ignorance on the impact of our worldview on forming an opinion. We must always recognize there is room for growth and other ideas.
Consider the needs and opinions of everyone impacted by the decision.
A truly kind and fair political decision must take the time to consider everyone who is a potential stakeholder in the action. It is totally unkind if not downright cruel to make decisions affecting others without caring about their needs. It is the height of hubris to sit back and make decisions for others believing you know what is in their best interest without stopping and taking the time to ask them. Truly considering and addressing the needs of all involved in the final decision will assist in its implementation.
Be open to the ideas and values of others – listen with the intent of learning.
It’s not enough just to consider the needs of all stakeholders, you have to open your ears and your heart to listening to their needs and ideas. Again, other people have walked other paths and have other life experiences leading them to a different view of the world. It’s not about one viewpoint being right and the other when wrong, it’s about recognizing that different approaches can lead to not only different needs but also different – and often better – solutions. The greatest gift we can give another human being is our truly listening to them. And, if we truly listen, we might just learn something which will benefit ourselves in our life journey.
Value all relationships as much as, if not more than, the decision.
It’s easy to surround ourselves with people who think just like us. It’s easy to value those relationships which reinforce the beliefs we already hold. But beyond these people are many other human beings who hold different opinions from us but are also more like us than not. The greatest mistake we can make is to demonize someone simply for holding a different belief. If we look beyond this difference of opinion, we can see a person who has experienced their own life path leading them to having their own dreams and desires; their own family and friends; their own desire for prosperity, health and love – a person to be valued simply for who they are. This is true no matter what their nationality, religion or spiritual belief, race or creed, sexual orientation or any other human characteristic is. To lose track of that value in our awareness because of the difference of opinion on a political issue is truly sad. No matter what your differences on political issues are, you must always place your value more on the worth of this fellow spiritual being.
Seek mutually beneficial decisions – and support them.
Our country was built on compromises. We have a long political history of success based on compromises. Yet in recent times, for some people the idea of compromising has become the equivalent of “losing”. Although I don’t agree that compromising is always losing, I do believe that there is always the possibility for a political decision that transcends compromise or loss. This gets to the idea popularized by Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People of seeking “win-win” decisions. If we involve the needs and opinions of everyone impacted by the decision and truly address their bottom line motivations, then we should lead to a decision that benefits everyone – a “win” for all. What’s essential is our focus upon seeking the highest decision for everyone – all involved must let go of any idea of winners or losers. All must ensure that there are no losers. And, once we come to mutually beneficial decision, we have to stand beside it and support it in the world.
Be open to an even better decision emerging.
Finally, no matter what decision we reach, we cannot become so attached to that decision that we cannot be open to the possibility that a new and even better decision can emerge. The fact is, life is an organic process that is constantly shifting and growing and we must be open to a higher way coming forth.
So can we do it? Can we let go of defending our predetermined decisions, focusing on our differences of opinion and attacking others who are different from us? Can we shift our focus towards being open to new ideas, placing our attention on our commonalities and giving priority to maintaining our relationships?
The answer is in each of us. It’s easy to look out at the world of conflicts and differences and believe we have no power to change it. But that’s not true. We do.
Ultimately, it comes down to the question of what kind of world do you want to live in?
Do you want to live a world where everyone argues and fights and believes they need to win at the expense of others? Do you want to live in a world where our differences prevents us from finding and implementing decisions that serve us?
Or – would you rather live in a world where everyone has care and concern for the needs and success of each other – a world where we come together and support one another in solving our challenges and uplifting us to our highest possibilities?
You have a choice.
I believe that kindness and fairness are calling us home.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his very latest one Becoming a Spiritual Change Agent. Check it out!