We are almost to the election that has seemingly gone on forever. Yes, we all agree we have never seen a campaign such as this one. We thought America was divided before but this particular political choice has taken us to new levels of divisiveness.

So what will we do after the votes are tabulated and a new President is selected? Will we remain firmly attached to our political positions and feelings so much that we will only continue to exacerbate our dividedness with those who think differently? Or will we use this election as an opportunity to grow and evolve as a country such that we can set aside political differences and instead focus on creating a country that works for everyone?

What do you want to see happen? Further divisiveness or a move to our unity?

Starbucks Green Cups

I was in a Starbucks one day this week and ordered a drink. When the barista gave it to me she said that I was one of the first people in their store to receive the new green cups.  I asked her if this was their new holiday cup and she said “no, the red holiday cups are coming later this month”.

The green cup was a beautiful call to the celebration of our unity.  It displays the drawing of over 100 people which according to Starbucks was drawn in one continuous stroke.

According to their website, chairman Howard Schultz stated “The green cup and the design represent the connections Starbucks has as a community with its partners (employees) and customers. During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other.” I like that. Read more about the cup here. 

However, in the “no good deed goes unpunished” department, their call to celebrate our unity led to some complaints to boycott them via Twitter.  Really?  You want to boycott Starbucks because they are reminding us to “be good to each other”?  Are we truly so divided that anything one person (or company) says in a positive vein has to be met with pessimism and complaining?

Is there a way up from here?

Seeing the Good in Both Candidates & Forgiveness

The other day, I posted an article calling us to shift our attention towards seeing some good in both Presidential candidates no matter how much we disliked one or both of them.  I expected some folks to push back on the request or to say they couldn’t see any good in one or the other of them.  Both in comments on the website and on social media, I did get a bit of that.  However, many appreciated the effort to try and see the good.

One of the things I stressed in this exercise is that when we see the good in Trump or Clinton, the act of our seeing such good doesn’t mean we condone any of their actions to which we are opposed.  Neither does it mean that we agree with their political positions.  Rather, the “seeing good” in someone is an exercise in our own consciousness and actually has little or nothing to do with the other person. Our failure to see that it’s not about the other person is a common human error and one we usually make in connection with “forgiving someone”.

Think about some time you were wronged and harbored negative feelings towards someone.  At some point, someone suggests to you that you might “forgive” the person who “did the deed”.  Most people puff up their chests and say “I cannot forgive them!  Look at the pain they caused me.”  The error, of course,  is the belief that our “forgiving” them is about our “giving them something they may not deserve”.  Yet, true forgiving is really not about the “other person”, it is about ourselves and our shift in our own consciousness such that we quit holding on to the pain of the negative experience and the negativity in our hearts that we direct towards the other.  The only one really hurt by holding on is ourselves.

We pollute our consciousness and our lives when we hold onto fear and judgment and hatred towards others.  These negative feelings do not serve us and can cause us to be unhappy at best and to be physically ill at worse.  And, these feelings can leave one trapped in a vortex of swirling distrust and dislike of everything such that all they perceive is seen as “bad”. This negativity includes our feelings for those for whom we continue to harbor ill will and have never forgiven them for their “wrongs”…and it includes any negative feelings about Clinton or Trump or the other political side that we may be holding onto as well.  The more of us that remain stuck in hatred towards our fellow Americans, the more likely our experience of our wonderful country will turn bad. It really is time for us all to let go and move on.

Moving to Unity?

One of the beautiful things about this life is the free will choice we each possess.  We can choose to live in fear or not. We can choose to hate others or not.  We can choose to forgive or not.  We can choose to put political differences aside or not.  We can choose to focus on our common needs or not.  We can choose to live in love and express higher levels of care for one another or not.  We can choose to live in separation and competition or we can choose to live in unity and cooperation.

You have a choice.  I have a choice.

In my book from a few years ago, Our Spiritual Evolution, I wrote about my worldview that we are spiritual beings having this human experience and that this experience included our moving through an evolutionary process.  This process gives us this free will choice to decide how to navigate through all of the moments in our lives (positive or negative) and also the opportunity to realize that some choices are a better fit for our future than others.  However, even though one choice might be a better fit for our growth and development, it doesn’t mean that we will make it.  We always have the freedom to choose the one that is not in our ultimate best interest.

How can we know which choices are in our eventually best interest?  As I have written about before, it is those that express more life, more joy, more harmony….and in such expression harm no others.  Such choices further our personal and collective evolution and advance us towards what many see as our ultimate goal.

And what exactly is that ultimate goal?  Although a complete description of that is beyond the scope of his article (and I encourage you to read my book for a such a discourse), there are some signs taken from various philosophers, scientists and mystics that point us to that goal and a choice that might be a better fit in our current situation.  As I wrote in Our Spiritual Evolution, “as we as individuals grow or evolve in our consciousness…we become more aware and truly embody the reality that we are all interconnected — that we are all part of some grand ‘Oneness’.  As that occurs, it is inevitable that we will grow in our sense of love and concern for all our fellow beings.”

Most all the challenges that we face are ultimately opportunities for our growth and advancement along our evolutionary path.  We frequently go through the pain of negative experiences to learn some lesson and then to hopefully learn and make a higher and better choice for our lives and our better future.

We see these patterns in our individual life experiences when we are harmed and then learn to forgive.  The power of forgiveness calls us to our letting go of pain and judgment towards another and shifting how we see the experience.  In that shift in our consciousness we grow and evolve in what it means for us to be this human-spiritual being.

This election experience is calling us to the same shift.  It is calling us to let of our judgment and hatred of others.  It is calling us to let go of negative thoughts towards those who may not think like us and instead to see that we are more alike than we are different.

If we are willing to grow and evolve in our consciousness, this election is calling us to a higher level of awareness of our unity.

The choice as always, of course, is yours.

Mark Gilbert

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