by Michael Maciel
The problem of polarization is probably THE problem of our age, so it’s really important to understand the underlying causes of why we’re at each other’s throats. And in typical fashion, we all tend to exteriorize our problems, projecting out onto the world and each other the unresolved conflicts within ourselves.
We all seem to have a pretty good idea of what’s wrong with other people and so little understanding of what’s wrong with ourselves, preferring to think that we’re basically okay but that those we disagree with are fundamentally flawed in some way. But, when we’re honest with ourselves, the reason people bother us so much is that they stir up the demons inside us, and we don’t know what to do about those, so we project them onto others and then try to deal with them out there.
The way out of this dilemma is to get past this idea of otherness and realize that we ARE that other person. They are the embodiment of the things within us that we haven’t figured out yet. And it’s not that those things are evil, necessarily, because we don’t know that. It’s far more likely that they are simply those things that are foreign to us — part of us but foreign — and that can be extremely upsetting.
This means that getting to know the other person is supremely important, especially those who bother us profoundly. It’s those profound disturbances within us, the ones that defy our understanding, that are being roused by the person who has either figured them out for themselves or who are farther along in the process of discovery than we are. Instead of a threat, that person is really our lifeline to wholeness, IF we allow them to be that.
The old aphorism is true: my enemy is my teacher. In order to fix the world, then, we have to become better students.