In 777 Words: Donald, Hillary and Aiming for Love

September 27, 2016

It’s political season in the United States, so what better time for an orange analogy?

What does this beloved peelable fruit have to do with politics? Consider an analogy often employed by the late Wayne Dyer.

Wayne liked to point out that when you apply pressure to an orange, orange juice comes out. Why? Because that is what’s inside an orange.

And as the US moves toward electing a new president, what is coming out of so many people? Hate. Why? That is what’s inside of them.

Donald Trump can’t place hatred inside of you. Hillary Clinton can’t, either. Neither can any political candidate in whichever country you happen to call home.

If hatred comes out, it’s because it’s already inside of you. For many of us, keeping this emotion at bay is only as easy as the strength of the feelings that external events stir up in us.

To give an extreme example, no one will ever blame the parents of a child who is murdered for feeling intense hatred toward the person responsible. Thankfully this is a relatively rare occurrence in our society.

But politics? The ideas that exist inside the heads of our would-be leaders? Is it necessary for hatred to pour out of us over this?

I’m not being judgemental. I know what it’s like.

I am a Canadian who spent the first 11 or so years of adulthood enamoured by politics in both Canada and the US. I was the guy watching cable news daily, reading all of the op-eds and subscribing to TIME.

The problem with going so far down the political rabbit hole, like I had, is that it’s easy to fall into an “us versus them” trap.

Pretty soon, people outside of “your” party are seen as “others,” if not despicable. After a while, you prejudge people based on how they vote, or make assumptions about their political preferences: “That dumb redneck voted for George” or “That useless welfare bum voted for Bill.”

I remember finding myself making arguments that I didn’t really believe in, simply because “my” party advocated them. I stopped thinking for myself because of the emotion involved. If you observe politics today, it is evident that a lot of people are doing this; they don’t want to give their “enemies” an inch. It’s one big ego game.

From there, things can grow more extreme, as they have during this current presidential campaign. One day a protester is punched in the face at a Trump rally; the next prominent actor Don Cheadle is sharing his wish that Trump would “die in a grease fire.”

How far will it go? As far as the anger inside of people.

This year, I have taken a huge step back from politics. I stopped watching the talk shows. I have gradually quieted the inner chatter that demanded my political viewpoints be vindicated. I began only glancing at the headlines, rarely clicking on a political article.

I had come to the realization that being so intimately involved with divisive politics is not conducive to leading a life of love and serenity. I want to be okay with whoever wins, and love whoever wins, and that’s much harder to do that if I’m knee-deep in the game and unwilling to consider other viewpoints.

To those who are punching people in the face, or wishing others painful demises, why not just vote for somebody else? Why get caught up in the hate game yourself? Does it feel good? Or do you get an unpleasant rush inside that momentarily satisfies your ego but ultimately drains you?

One of the things about being sensitive is that when you pay attention, you really notice what feels good, or right, and what doesn’t. Dishing out hatred never feels good. Sending out love does. It doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end.

Moving away from anger and emotion around politics is a process that takes time. In my case, practices such as meditation and the Sedona Method (Google for details) have helped a great deal. So has quieting my former obsession with being right.

What this means is that while I still have some quiet moments of glee over this or that political episode, I am detached enough from the outcome that I can be an entertained observer. The idea of loving whoever wins does not seem daunting.

As I put the finishing touches on this column, I got a text from a friend inviting me to watch the first presidential debate with other politicos. Knowing the type of mocking, hateful energy that will be on display, I’m politely declining.

I’d rather aim for love than hate.

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