Unconditional Like: Navigating a Polarized World
A lot of us aspire to unconditional love, but most often, our love is very conditional. Our tendency as humans is to create little in-groups. We also want to make our in-groups stronger by hating one another. By perpetuating a battle with others, we can create more love for our group. Polarization is increasing with every year. Whether it’s the glacial divide between Republicans and Democrats, or vegans and paleos, or Yin yogis and hot, sweaty yogis, everything is so polarized. It is more and more challenging to find middle ground.
I think you know some of the other topics that are very hot and charged these days. It seems like this idea of middle ground is disappearing. Let’s look at unconditional love vs. conditional love.
We use love so freely; like, “I love chocolate.” I say that all the time I love chocolate because I do love it. However, it’s very conditional. I like chocolate when it’s 80% chocolate. I’m a chocolate snob. So, if it’s 80% cacao I’m into it, but give me a Mars bar and I won’t even eat it. It’s way too sweet for me. The point is that I have conditions for whether I love chocolate or not. The underlying frame of mind is, “If everyone just thought the way I did, the world would be so much better.” However, if you want everyone to think like you, you’ve definitely come to the wrong planet. It’s not going to happen. We are so diverse. We need to understand that we are going to have disagreements. This is part of the game that we have been put on the planet to figure out.
The advice that we have been given is very confusing: Love Your Enemy. I know what that means. I have a lot of respect for the source. However, it’s a very hard thing to put into practice. When we see the arguments out there on Facebook about different topics they are polarized and bitter. Anytime I’ve been involved in these arguments, and you can’t sleep after them. How do you react to the people you disagree with? Do you love them? Especially in the heat of the moment, they make us feel rage.
Let’s chew on a question then: What do we need to do to love our enemy? Is it even possible. On the outset, one big problem is that we don’t think in terms of degrees. Love is a strong word and is supposed to connate positive, expansive feelings where we just want to hug. However, we don’t have fifty shades of love; we just have LOVE or HATE. I love dark chocolate and I hate milk chocolate. But there are so many different shades in the middle. The Buddhists figured this out. I want to credit Robert Thurman describing this and I think it’s impactful. According to the Buddhists, there are 4 shades. Specifically, there is Hate, Not Hate, Like and Love.
On this spectrum, we don’t need to either love or hate people. It’s just that we cannot hate them, and you can like them.
When we start hating people, it is brutal. Hate is physiological. Take your hand and start punching yourself in the belly. That is what hate does to your own self with your thoughts.
The media loves it. They want to keep those remote controls in your hands and to keep you scrolling so you stay on their feed. The energy of hate is addictive. It’s the over inflation of desire and will to be right. How are you going to move from hate to “not hate” or to “like?” Love may be too strong. There may be people in your life that have done something so bad to you that you may never love them ever. But you at least have to move to “not hate.” That’s all fine in theory, but how are we going to do that?
The answer in one word is …UNDERSTANDING. The word understanding means to “Stand Under.” So much of what we do when we don’t stay connected to our highest self when we are in an argument with people, we “STAND OVER” judgmentally. Like a Judge standing over somebody. You have done something wrong, and I am right. We look down on them.
Standing under is important because Love is inseparable from understanding. The more you understand somebody, the more you move the needle away from hate and towards love. That is so important to be able to do these days.
Let’s keep moving towards, as Charles Eisenstein says, “the more beautiful world your heart knows is possible.”
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