First published on KSL.com
During the holiday season, our attention is turned towards giving, showing love to the people around us, helping the less fortunate, and trying to create a more peaceful world.
This has had me thinking about how un-peaceful the world feels right now. There is more divisions and distance between us than ever. There is a widening gap between the political parties, racial tension, religious transitions, and more divides around gender and sexuality than ever before. The “us versus them mentality” is stronger than ever.
University of Maryland professor Lilliana Mason recently released a study showing that the political divide between the parties is creating more disdain and even hatred for members of the opposing party than we have ever seen before. She found it wasn’t even the issues that divides us, as much as the political identities of the two groups, and our desire to fit in on one side or the other.
According to the Pew Research Center there has been a spike in the contempt each group has for the other. More than 4 in 10 Democrats and Republicans say the other party’s policies are so misguided that they pose a threat to the nation. This means we are becoming scared of each other, and that fear breeds conflict and hate, not compassion.
The internet has made it easy to access news and commentary that is biased towards our side, which strengthens the animosity towards the other, and throws gasoline on flame of discord.
The problem is, at the subconscious level, our egos like this “us versus them” idea. We like it because when you make the other side the villains and cast them as the bad guys, you cast yourself as the good guys, which can be a subconscious boost to your self-esteem, but this comes at a great cost to our country and communities. Instead of unity, compassion, and tolerance, we create fear, distain, and division.
The real problem behind these problems in our world (terrorism, racism, discrimination, hate, misogyny and prejudice) is a simple, foundational belief we all have. It is simply the belief or idea that human value can change. Let me explain why.
You believe your value as a human being is dependent on your appearance, performance, property and popularity. These things change all the time, so your sense of value changes and goes up and down. Some days you feel good about yourself and others you feel worthless or less than others. Because you believe your value can change, you also believe other people’s value can change, and this means you also believe some humans have “more value” than other humans.
You may not believe this consciously, but the two beliefs go together, and if you believe value can change, you have to believe some people are more valuable or good than others.
Most of this plays out subconsciously though. Think about how you judge, measure and assess everyone you meet, and some of them you see as better as you (and you are intimidated by them) and some you see as less than you (and you might talk down to them).
This simple belief is the real problem behind all the problems on the planet. We see certain groups of people as better or worse than other groups of people, and if we see them as the bad guys we can justify treating them badly.
The terrorists see Americans as the bad, horrible and we see them as horrible violent people. Democrats see Republicans as racist and fascist, while Republicans see Democrats as socialist free loaders. Millennials are disgusted with old views, and older folks see millennials as entitled and lazy.
People who leave their religion see the believers as the clueless, while the believer see them as sinning apostates. People who live on the east side, see the west side neighborhoods as ghetto. The holy war between red and blue football teams further divides our community. There are a million ways we divide ourselves into “us versus them” and as long as we see “them” as the bad guys, we will create discord not peace.
This is where each of us can step in and create real change in our world. We can change this core, foundational belief inside us, and if we all did this, we could change everything.
You can start this by choosing to see all humans value as unchangeable, infinite and absolute. This would mean everyone has the exact same intrinsic worth no matter what party, race, or religion they belong to. This means you can’t earn more value and be better than anyone else. You also can’t lose value and be less than anyone else. You always are the same - no matter what you do.
This is a simple idea, but the affect could be profound. If everyone on the planet chose to stop vilifying the others as bad, and chose to see them as just different, but equal in value, we could make big changes in our community. But you have no control over them, you only have control of you.
So, choose to see all humans as equal in value, starting today. Give up judgment, gossip and the need to put others down to feel better about yourself. Stop seeing the other political party as horrible people, and just see them as scared of different things. Their fears make them concerned about different issues, but they are good people with the exact same value.
There are some “bad” people out there, who wish to do harm others. But, you can still see them as equal in value. These people have usually had a much different life journey, where they have experienced things you haven’t, and some have developed mindsets that come from fear and hate. But if you had had their journey, you might be the same way. You don’t have to trust these people or be friends with them, but if you choose to see their value as the same, you could address them with wisdom not hate.
You start creating peace on earth at home. Make sure you remind yourself daily that your own value doesn’t change. When you have a bad hair day, make a mistake at work, get dumped, or experience a setback remind yourself none of these change your value.
Make sure your spouse and children know their value can’t change. When they drop a glass in the kitchen that shatters and makes a huge mess, quickly remind them that didn’t change their value. Make sure you don’t cast your spouse as the bad one in a fight. Instead see both of you as both good and bad at times, with the exact same value.
The more you talk about this idea and choose it as your truth, the better you will feel. Also refrain from gossip, judging and putting others down. Never speak negatively about people who are different from you politically, racially, economically or spiritually. Make seeing all people as the same, a daily commitment.
Look for similarities not differences, and reach out to people you haven’t been comfortable around, and get to know them. It’s hard to hate people up close.
Find people whose views are different from yours and instead of seeing them as wrong or debating the issues, ask questions and see what you could learn from their perspective. See if you can feel their heart and goodness. If we all reached across the aisle and had more compassion for our neighbors, maybe our leaders would learn to lean in and create compromise too.
Peace on earth beings with you and me.
We can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after coach, author and speaker. She is the president and founder of www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes.com She is the author of the books Choosing Clarity, and The People Guidebook.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.