Do we need to sacrifice our values to stand up for our principles?
Are you concerned about the state of our Union? I certainly am!
Not a day goes by without some outrageous incident making the headlines. It’s painful to see the standards that have defined our country ignored and abused. Honesty, integrity, empathy, compassion, freedom, and equality have always been dear to me. Ideals, until recently, I believed were esteemed by the majority of Americans.
Our government’s behavior today brings to mind an inner conflict I struggled with back when the Vietnam War was raging.
I was never prone to politics, but with the draft breathing down my neck, I was forced to make some tough decisions. If you’ve read my book Groovin, you know about my personal dilemma and the thoughts and emotions that plagued me at the time.
I decided to fight for peace and compassion—but protesting the war caused my behavior to change. Instead of the loving human being I had been, I began to experience hatred. My animosity was aimed at the government, the hawkish politicians, and the military mentality.
Fortunately, I had the sensitivity to notice the absence of peace in my life. Feeling out of sorts, I recognized the hypocrisy of fighting for love while expressing hate—and saw the need to step back.
Today I find it difficult again to watch greedy politicians make heartless decisions and defile and dismantle our democracy. It fuels anger and resentment—emotions that run contrary to the person I strive to be.
There’s a classic country song by Aaron Tippin with a line that says: “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”
So how do I speak up for the principles I cherish without sacrificing my own peace of mind?
Determined to learn from the past, I’ve decided to retain a civil stance toward my opponents while standing up for the injustice I deplore.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s difficult remaining positive during these trying times. It takes commitment and, for me, plenty of meditation to remain connected to my heart.
Sometimes I fail, wishing terrible things on those who threaten the principles I adore. But most of the time, I’m able to remember that there are far more gentle, caring Americans than the misguided few who dominate the airwaves.
I’ve realized that we may be underestimating the power for good that exists in our country—and the fact that a large opposing coalition is forming. Our greatest obstacle may be underestimating our strength together and the importance of each of our votes.
The words and actions of our current leaders have offended many factions of society: women, hispanics, blacks, Muslims, emigrants, conservationists, scientists, the LGBTQ community, the handicapped, and the press.
They’ve even inflamed farmers who’ve been forced to plow under their crops because of a shortage of laborers and the results of Trump’s trade wars.
Even though the Democratic Party is far from perfect, I want to do everything I can to see them back in control of Congress. Since most millennials, Gen Xers, and Gen Zers welcome diversity and inclusion, I hope they, as well as older, principled citizens, will make the effort to vote, starting with the midterms. Together, we have the numbers to make a difference.
As freedom of speech is demonized and the powers of the presidency are used to punish those who speak in opposition, it’s easy to become angry.
Anger fuels action—but let our actions be based on the love and compassion we are fighting for—not by hatred for those who act in ignorance and fear.
We will feel better about ourselves and be more effective in creating positive change.
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