Say what you will about the last year-and-a-half but one thing’s for certain: Our national game of tug-of-war has never been more popular. Independents, Republicans, Democrats, they come from every walk of life, pulling and tugging, tugging and pulling, in an effort to force their opponents to topple–denounce their views and beliefs, and laud the victor as Superior Supreme. After all, there can be only ONE! That’s what the movies tell us and just like other facets of the media, movies never lie.
Tune-in or log-in, whatever your poison, resistance has run rampant. Republicans are resisting Democrats. Democrats are resisting Republicans. Independents, Libertarians, Green Partiers, Non-Voters: Resisting. And my, oh my, how the media lives to throw gasoline on the wildfire . . . so long as we provide the flame. It seems the nation is so hell-bent on resisting each other that we fail to recognize all of our hands on the same rope.
Yes, I have definite opinions on politics. I’ve tried to keep myself in check, but still I’ve reached for that rope. I’ve kept myself busy examining my resistance, voicing my resistance, fearing what might happen as a result of our current political climate and getting angry.
But while engaging in this national-league game of tug-of-war, I can’t help but notice that our hands are not free to build a house, bake a cake, plant a garden, or even take care of our most basic needs.
Oftentimes, resistance creates the opposite of what we want. In a game of tug-of-war, what we really want is to win. Maybe we need recognition for being “right” in order to fully believe it ourselves. But in this game, no one wins. No one feels heard by the other side so we get louder, pull more aggressively. Resistance creates resistance. No one comes out ahead. No progress made. If only someone would just give in and let go so we can be done with this!
The above video is fun and silly, and might feel a little awkwardly awesome placed in this post the way it is BUT it raises a wonderful point about how resistance often doesn’t work in quite the manner we want it to.
Especially during times of great change, it is so tempting to get into a cycle of warring with your reality instead of helping to create it.
Long ago, Carl Jung contended “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”.
I can personally verify that this quote is true. I spent much of my life hating that 1) I have a speech impediment. 2) That I’m less coordinated than most people. 3) That I will one day die. I cried about these three things. I complained about these three things. I got bitterly angry about these three things. I got so busy fighting these three things that I almost became blind to the life I had the potential to create for myself and the positive impact I could have on the people around me.
Yep, the tug-of-war game within ourselves can be even more vicious than the political tug-of-war game.
I wish I could say that for all those years of effort, sweat, angst and resistance that something fundamentally changed about the things I was resisting. But last I checked I still have
1) A speech impediment
2) Coordination differences
3) I will still, one day, die
Yes, it is very important to stand up for what we believe in, to become politically active, to vote, to let our voices be heard.
The trick is to do it from a place of creating rather than a place of warring. Warring’s absolute focus is on taking down that which we oppose. Creating, on the other hand, allows the space for understanding, for discovering gifts in even the things that frustrate us, and using this fresh awareness as a foundation for our conversations and actions toward a solution.
I now see the many gifts my voice and coordination were hiding just waiting for me to find them. Learning to adapt to them have allowed me to develop an unique set of talents. Perhaps the most unexpected being that when I speak publically, I am heard deeply. People have told me that my words have caused them to stop resisting themselves and embrace their perceived challenges as the gifts they truly are.
The fact that I will one day die still frustrates me at times. I love living. But this frustration is a gift because it reminds me to be as alive as I can be in each and every moment I get.
In politics, it seems to me, that this nation has been gifted with the opportunity to deepen our level of understanding, respect, and compassion for one another. To learn to view diverse opinions not as divisive but as an opportunity to grow beyond our comfort zones and create solutions that no one person or group could create alone.
Life is full of things we don’t personally care for. We can either exhaust our resources in a tug-a-war-to-the-death with everything we dislike, or we can use the limitations that we see in and around ourselves as opportunities to learn, grow and discover gifts buried in places we never would have otherwise looked.
What if we’ve been blind to the rope’s gift, all this time? What if its true purpose is not to divide and pit us against each other but instead remind us that despite our many differences, we are all connected to one another?
Let’s do our imperfect best to create a space of collaboration in our families, communities and country, as we also do our imperfect best to make peace within ourselves.
You’ve lived long enough in resistance, it’s time to discover the gifts you never would have suspected have always been within you.