I think we can all agree that the times we're living in today are unprecedented. 2020 has gifted us with a global pandemic, climate change fueled natural disasters, political corruption, and the breakdown of an oppressive system.
These are all major challenges that we face, but I think the most insidious is one that is held internally. And that is our illusion of separateness. Especially here in the US, now that it's close to election time, this feeling is visceral.
I first noticed this 'every man for himself' mentality when I came back from living in Asia. In the places I lived, as well as where I traveled to, I experienced such a deeper sense of community than I did in the US, even as a foreigner! These communities embraced me, fed me, and shared their country with me, calling me 'sister'. This simple act links people together and reminds us that we are all connected as one family.
Here in the US, however, the mentality is drastically different. We are divided now more than ever, Democrat vs. Republican, mask vs. no mask, and our president has only widened this divide. Social support systems like food stamps, welfare, and universal healthcare are looked down upon by many as free handouts. Yet these systems are exactly what used to be in place centuries ago when we lived in smaller communities, everyone had a role and took care of each other. This doesn't have to change now that we live in larger cities.
We preach about individual freedoms so much, yet we turn around and rely on essential workers to sell us our food, deliver our packages, and teach our children. Here is a radical and unpopular opinion (especially here in the US), You are not free! To be free means to be 100% self-sufficient. Looking at it through this lens, no being on earth is free. We all rely on oxygen, the sun, water, and soil. We simply cannot live without these things and that is because all beings are interconnected. This deep truth needs to be remembered if we are going to heal the wounds of our society.
This belief of separateness is not only in the US, division is seen worldwide. We divide ourselves into different nations, religions, political parties, and then look over at the others in fear. This fear is dangerous as it is being manifested in many different ways to things as minor as social cliques to major atrocities like genocide.
We see this over and over, and while it may look unrelated, it all boils down to the same root problem, the illusion of separateness. Racism, sexism, homophobia, religious persecution, climate degradation, these all exist because we look at something outside of ourselves and see it as different and disconnected. When we're disconnected from something or someone, this makes it easier for us to hurt, oppress, or destroy them.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves. What we do to the Earth, we also do to ourselves. Nearly every religion or spiritual teaching has some form of the golden rule: "do unto others as you would want done to you". A footnote should be added "because they ARE you." We are taught this vital truth, yet it's easily forgotten in our world today. Our ego wants to separate us, the government wants to separate us, big corporations want to separate us. We hold immense power as a collective, and these institutions know that which is why they use the "divide and conquer" tactic.
If we carry within us this belief that we are all connected, each a vital part of a perfectly designed system, then we will work with nature instead of against it, we will act with compassion and empathy towards those who look different than us. Take some time to meditate and visualize your connection to the larger whole. Start the change within yourself so that you may inspire the spark of change in others.