To be in a consistent state of unconditional love, thankfulness, and gratitude, has been touted for thousands of years as an enlightened mind-set. So, how then do we apply this sage wisdom to unconditionally love, and even be thankful for, those we absolutely don’t agree with or even hate?
It’s easy to be thankful for those who love and support us for who we are, or whose social-political-religious ideologies we align with. We can even be grateful for opportunities to discuss divergent perspectives, affording mutual understanding to reach actionable policies and programs which support the greater common good.
The point where it becomes difficult is when we try to wrap our minds and hearts around appreciating people who intend to limit, or take away, other people’s civil rights – including physical harm, torture, or murder – because of differing ideologies and belief systems.
How do we love and appreciate those who violate our most fundamental code of social ethics and societal values? Is this an insurmountable challenge?
If I were to observe someone being bullied, beaten, robbed, raped, tortured, or simply told they can’t love who they wish, or worship the form of deity of their choice, I’d feel compelled to step in and do something. It’s one thing to honor other people’s ideas, opinions and beliefs. It’s a whole other thing to stand by and watch them oppress others.
So, again, I ponder… How can we feel thankful towards an oppressor, when our instincts scream otherwise?
We can take an ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ approach and ignore anything disturbing. This will give us a warm sense of serenity and security inside our ‘ignorance is bliss’ bubble. The problem with this no-opposition position is it enables harmful special interest ideologies to carry on unfettered to harm others who should be protected.
Or we could make ourselves feel better with an ‘imagine how much worse it could be‘ technique. This mind-set shift at least gives us something to be grateful for. The problem is it doesn’t address the actions and behaviors emerging out of dangerous, self-serving social/political agendas.
So how do we realistically approach those we oppose with unconditional love, and even thankfulness?
1st ~ Appreciate the ground we ourselves are standing on. Be thankful for our own health, prosperity and relations. This is a critically important, foundational perspective.
2nd ~ Flip the ‘things could be worse’ perspective to a ‘what can we do to a make things better‘ position.
3rd ~ Be grateful for our opportunity to play a part in making the changes we’d like to see. Focus on how we could serve the greater good, including the opposition.
4th ~ Align with like minds to collectively approach the opposition from a place of love, with an intent to make the world a better place.
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