The Deadly Game of National Disunity

"On the contrary we are invaded, as it were, from morning to night, both by our inner being as well as by the threatening exterior world for which we are responsible. The field of our ceaseless effort to reconcile both sides is none other than our ordinary life. If, consciously or unconsciously, we concern ourselves solely with our work in the world and exercise and establish our world-ego alone, we are bound in the end to fall prey to a specifically human unhappiness. The inexplicable suffering is brought about by our estrangement from our inner essence."

Karlfried Graf Durckheim / The Way of Transformation"

When we view the political events of today, how easy it is to see that each of us in his own way is imprisoned by his mind. The fervent need to be right, to inflict our views on others, to mandate that the lifestyles of others reflect the lifestyles we decide is best for them, to spend year after year battling those who are different from us, results in turmoil. In short, to live in opposition is a deadly game of self-imprisonment. Opposition is founded upon duality and duality is founded upon ignorance. Better said, it takes no talent to make another person wrong. It takes considerable talent to get someone to change their mind.

Practiced and promoted by television commentators, talk show hosts, politicians, political operatives, religious spokespersons, value-based organizations and the likes, opposition is the current national condition in which we dwell. The macrocosm (collective) is but a more visible example of the microcosm (individual). The national disunity we see is but the manifestation of the individual disunity each of us experiences in our own individual life. In other words, the outer is a manifestation of the inner. To transform the outer, transform the inner.

Openly opposing other groups and people, argumentative, hostile to change, intolerant of those who are different, emotionally violent in order to be right, angry, willing to harm and force-feed values and agendas, people in opposition antagonize others and create division and disorder. But the reason I know so much about opposition is because I lived there for over half my life. That was my motto: "__  you."

I spent 10 years at Winthrop College completing my Master's Degree in French in 1977 and was 36 years old finishing up my Educational Specialist degree in 1987. I had been involved with a small group of about 7 people who had been charged with solving a unique educational problem in South Carolina. Just my cup of tea. And I am very skilled at the innovation process.

When the big night came, the big-wigs from Columbia, SC were there and the presentation was made. There was a lot on the line because if our solution was deemed valuable, it stood the chance of being implemented throughout the State. Score.

But the position I had taken early in the game was that I could not accept my colleagues propositions. They viewed me as too far out there and I viewed them as stupid. So, for most of the 9 month research and development stage, I took a back seat, twiddled my thumbs and watched an incredible opportunity being squandered.

During the evening of the presentation, one of the state department guests asked me the worst question I could have been asked: "My. Hasty, I noticed you haven't said anything. What is your opinion of the plan?" Handing me a gun loaded with one bullet would have served the same purpose.

For the next 10 minutes, I explained why the group idea would not work.

When the presentation was over, my colleagues ignored me. But several state department representatives approached me. Intrigued, they were complimentary and wanted to know more about what I thought. Of course they do. I know what I'm doing.

Towards the end of the evening, the Dean of the School of Education approached me. "Are you driving home tonight? Tonight is the last time we will see one another. C'mon, Haydn, let's go grab a bite before you leave."  Well, of course, he wants to spend some time with me, I thought. I know what I'm doing.

In 1987, at the White Horse Inn in Rock Hill, SC, we ordered the first beer. Over that beer, he told me how talented I was, how insightful I was and how keen my ideas were. My ego swelled beyond my ability to hold my head up. And then, we ordered the second beer. And for the rest of the evening he took me apart but in a professional and responsible manner.

"What difference does it make if you know the answers if you can't get people to listen to you? It took you less than 15 minutes to destroy 9 months worth of work and we're now back to zero. It would have been fine if you had shown respect for your colleagues' efforts and presented an alternative plan but you didn't. What is your plan, Haydn? Is your plan just to make others out to be wrong? How are you going to learn how to unify instead of divide people?"

I cried on the way home but became committed to resolving this once and for all in my life. It was, at last, the catalyst I needed to begin the process of taming my ego.

Change often occurs only through the process of destruction. For example, the global financial meltdown, a by-product of disunity, would logically have resulted in the implementation of laws that would make such events difficult to repeat. Those laws have not been created or enacted. The changes needed have been opposed by the very forces that created the meltdown in the first place. The forces of inertia are strong and refuse to change. But make no mistake about it...destruction can help an individual or a planet make the changes that are needed to evolve. But why go through the pain? Must we continue to learn through loss? The other choice is conscious change through conscious action. This process is much more bearable.

The key to national unity is not changing them but changing you. The pivotal key to resolving our national condition of opposition is the transformation of the individual.  To do that you must consider that your mind is not the center of the universe nor does it represent truth. No one cares what you think nor should you. People care about how you act. So, before you act, be bigger than your mind and give up the need to be right. Learn to unify yourself, your own mind, body, emotions and spirit, and the rest will come naturally. It will come naturally.

If you listen, you will understand. If you understand, you will appreciate. If you appreciate, you will accept. If you accept, you will unify. No religion, no person, no legislation nor any political endeavor has ever been able to unify our country, much less the planet. We have arrived at an impasse of deadly opposition. How is this going to resolve itself? What is the answer? How is this going to evolve, to change for the better? How will we unify?

The answer: You.