Love & Hate.
Right & Wrong.
Us & Them.
Black & White (or any colour contrast…).
Today as I observe the ongoing coverage of the United States election, I try to wade through the biases of two extremes that have expanded to take up so much space in our consciousness. I just want to know what is going and what the result might be, not the skewed results produced from one “side” or the other.
The space and time we are in reminds me of reading the book So Far From Home by Margaret Wheatley, a book that, in short (in my opinion), attributes much of society’s ills to the rise of the internet and its domination in our lives.
An information sheet for the book says, “We live in a time of increasing polarization and irrationality, like a Tower of Babel with no distinction between fact and opinion, where information no longer changes minds. In cyberspace, we are bombarded with constant distractions and narcissistic self-making activities. Instant judgment and blame have replaced rational thinking. Organizations are bloated by bureaucracy and meaningless measures. Those working for positive change become exhausted, ill, and heartsick as their good work is ignored, underfunded, or attacked.”
The sheet goes on to say, “But Wheatley has not written a book to increase our despair. Quite the contrary. Her intention is to inspire us to do our work with greater resolve and energy, using maps that won’t mislead us. So Far from Home offers maps of two kinds. Using the newest of the new sciences, Wheatley shows how different dynamics interacted to create this harsh new world. A second kind of map invites us to choose a new role for ourselves as warriors for the human spirit. We develop the skills we need most—insight, bravery, decency, compassion—as we look honestly at this complex, difficult world. Clarity gives us enduring strength to discover our right work and create meaningful lives in this dark time.”
“Love & Hate” is one of the songs I was referring to when saying to you yesterday that I had heard several inspiring songs on The Morning Show with John Richards on KEXP Seattle. To me, the song speaks to the absolute polarization that pervades our society, a phenomenon being played out in real-time as the extremes of opinion work to divide people further.
It is no longer safe in our society to hold a different view than what is prevailing or popular. That is the biggest reason I deactivated my Twitter account some years ago (and, I should say, one that at the time was the envy of a friend who was amazed by how many followers I had amassed…). I could not continue in that space as the divisiveness of the platform was rank and vile. I dipped my toes back in, a while ago, but mainly to track some useful information sources. I stay away from controversial discussions as those are not life-giving. It is easy to get drawn in and embroiled in an issue, lose focus, and join in an internet “pile-on.” There are millions of those going on in micro-discussions on threads… argh… I would be hard-pressed to explain it all to my parents. Except for my late mum, who briefly tried out email, they were 99% obliviously unknowing of the good and evil powers of the internet. Sometimes I, as their youngest child, have a hard time understanding it.
Humanity has come so far, yet we have so much further to go, to reconcile the differences we hold, or just think we hold. People gathering together should feel welcome and safe in the places where they meet up. That’s even more critical when those places are called and prepared as sacred spaces. That doesn’t always happen, though. I believe that’s part of the blurring of boundaries and appropriateness resulting from so many of us being “connected” online, often almost 24/7, chasing the prize of popularity on the World-Wide-Web.
I hope that our species can learn to reclaim the concepts and practices of respect, love, inclusiveness and peace-making. If it can happen in the smallest of gatherings, it can grow and climb like the vine that tenaciously, slowly and gently insists on climbing up the side of Sweety’s and my home, reaching for the bright, nurturing, non-judgmental, shining-for-all sun.
A verse in Michael Kiwanuka’s 2016 hit “Love & Hate” seems to sum it all up:
Calling all the people here to see the show
Calling all my demons now to let me go
I need something, give me something wonderful”
(from Love & Hate, by Danger Mouse [aka Brian Burton], Inflo [aka Dean Josiah Cover], Michael Kiwanuka)
And as the songwriters say, “No more pain and no more shame and misery.”
This post is dedicated to all those who are denied the safe places where they all deserve to be, and where they are needed.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here.
Here’s a live-session video of the song from Michael Kiwanuka’s official YouTube channel: