Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

A Divided World

The world is divided into people who think they are right.
~Tara Brach

It took me a few seconds to understand that there was no more to this sentence. Each side of the divide claims the higher ground of being right, being righteous, being morally superior, being more ethical, being smarter, being better.

Nowhere was this more evident to me than in the case of two business owners, each of whom denied service to a customer based on their own sense of morality. The customers in both cases were denied service because of who they were, not because they were engaged in any behavior disruptive to the businesses in question.

I’m not here to debate the legalities, the politics, or any other aspect of the owners’ decisions. What caught my attention was the reactions to the decisions. One group of people condemned the first owner and praised the second. Another group of people praised the first and condemned the second.

Neither group seemed to see any contradiction in their own opposite reactions to basically the same scenario. And of course each group saw their reactions as the “right” ones.

But how can any of this be right? How can any of this lead to anything other than more division, more distrust, more judgment, more hatred, more insistence, more fighting, more of everything that brings us down as human beings?

Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy, please pour your nectar of compassion over all of us, over both business owners, over both customers, over all who have furthered the divide, and over all who seek to bridge it. Help us love with the love that we profess to believe in, help us open our hearts to receive the grace we long for, help us reach through our fear to find a hand on the other side. May we shine like the sun and nourish like the rain.

For the sun rises on the evil and the good, and the rain falls on the just and the unjust. ~Matthew 5:45

19 thoughts on “A Divided World”

  1. The sooner we step away from an 'us and them' mentality and realise that we are all (or should be) in this together the better.
    And sigh at those who insist on being right, at the cost of empathy and compassion. And sometimes manners.

  2. Thank you for this lovely thoughtful post, Galen. Two wrongs don't make a right, but not acknowledging your feeling of outrage at certain acts is not a good thing, either. Your plea to Kuan Yin I celebrate and offer my own request to open my heart and welcome whatever comes in. 🙂

  3. Galen, I found your post here today prophetic. My heart has been aching over the hatred and lies spewing from so much of the media, and actions that serve to divide rather than unify. I'm clinging, whether some factions agree, to my belief in a forgiving, redeeming God, who loves us all, and is just waiting for us to turn to Him in trust and faith. Truth be told, the attacks that seem to have no basis in fact, trouble my soul no end. It is then I have to recall that God is eternal; He knows, He cares, He will eventually set all to right. It's my job to love my God and love my enemy.
    Blessings, dear friend!

  4. "It's my job to love my God and love my enemy." And to bless those who curse others and forgive those who persecute others. It doesn't mean that we don't stand up and defend the defenseless, or speak out against bigotry. But it means that we embrace all within our hearts with divine love and light.

    It occurs to me, Martha, that you and I are a good example of reaching across the divide. We see some things in very different ways, and might, in some cases, be on opposite sides of the divide on a particular issue. But somehow you and I find common ground with a great deal of respect and appreciation for each other, for which I am very grateful.

  5. You raise a vital point, DJan. Compassion is not contrary to advocacy. For example, I was a very effective advocate (so I was told) for my kids in special ed, and at the same time I had an excellent relationship with the folks in the special ed department. Some parents saw them as the enemy and had a very adversarial relationship, but I always treated them with sincere respect and appreciation, and sympathy for all the things they had to accomplish with inadequate funding. From that attitude, I was able to advocate for my kids as a team member, rather than as an enemy. The result was that I was able to get the services I needed for my kids and have a good working relationship with the people in special ed.

    So one question for me is how outrage affects my view of the people involved, how it might challenge my ability to work with others, and how it might hinder my effectiveness as a "repairer of the breach." Denying or repressing feelings is never good, as you say and I agree. But can I consider the nature of my feelings and how they affect the path I want to take? Can I view my own feelings of outrage with compassion?

    I'm not judging or offering answers here. I'm suggesting that we can bring the light of awareness to our own experience to understand ourselves and others better.

    Thanks for bringing up an important issue that we all struggle with in trying to find the middle road of balance with an open heart.

  6. The world is divided into people who think they are right.
    ~Tara Brach

    The main reason I became attracted to non-dual teaching is because every group and individual thinks their right and the others are all wrong. The media is all about commentary and opinion rather then facts. In a world of untruth its hard to discern what is real. I will strive to live the way of Tao, unconcerned with right and wrong, good and evil, on the path of no path, living now, without judgements and opinions.

  7. A Course in Miracles teaches that when we separate ourselves from anyone in any way, for example with anger or fear or criticism, we separate ourselves from the divine. No exception. Your comment reflects this, I think. Thanks, Brian.

  8. "we separate ourselves from the divine"

    This is a great truth Galen, It is "we", "me" or "I" (our outer ego self) that creates the false perception of separation from the divine.

    I read Marianne Williamson's book 'A return to Love' recently and it was a good commentary on a 'course in miracles'. One of the best book out there on this topic,it points to living the divine love based life, a returning to love, and moving away from fear, quilt and criticism. Fear being the opposite of Love was my main take away from the book. We are either moving toward love or moving toward fear in our moment to moment thoughts. Fear-based thinking is the way of the world caught up in ego thinking. Love based intelligence is what drives the universe and nature. It is the nature of the divine Self, the Christ, Buddha nature and it is also present in Tao, and the idea behind the phrase 'kingdom of heaven'.

  9. Your observation about moving towards love or fear reminds me of two other "contrasts." ACIM says that everything we do or think or say is either an expression of love (love) or a call for love (fear). I also just read that in every moment we choose whether to join or to separate.

    I just saw your new blog. LOVE IT!

  10. Yes, the sense of 'otherness' creates so much discord and division. And there's the elusive power of 'them'. What will 'they' say, if I do such and such a thing. I used to get rankled and reactionary at seeing what I considered to be unjust behaviour, now I try to be smiling, open and caring, because if we all demonstrate that, we can make changes, as well as it being healthier all round.

  11. Galen, I had the same reaction to the sentence initially too. Most people would not even consider letting go of the idea of being right. This is a big gap to bridge. It takes quite an enlightened person to be able to do this all the way!

  12. We might not all be enlightened all the time, but all of us can have enlightened moments now and then. That's a start! Thanks for commenting, Sandra.

  13. Indeed, Lynne, we can be models of compassion. That doesn't mean that we approve of all behavior, or that we don't speak up when needed. But the best way to teach a person compassion is to be compassionate. That is how change comes about, just as you say.

  14. I feel sad about all the divisions of thought. If we could just fully understand that our purpose is to love one another because we al are spirit brothers and sisters that chose to follow Christ and come to earth to experience opposition and there by use our agency to choose good from evil. If we could just love as the Savior and our Heavenly Father loves us.. I could write more thought but Heavenly Father’s plan is the perfect plan and if would elimiate all the contention and evil that surrounds us.
    You all we stir up food for thought. Blessings and hugs dear friend!

  15. Any time that we look beyond ourselves in our limited individual capacities, we allow awareness of our undivided connectedness. Thanks for commenting, LeAnn.

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