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The Most Polarizing time in Human History – Or is it?

Alone on top of Scalplock Mountain – Montana

Nature’s all about balance, being in harmony.

Boy does it feel like we’re far away from that; in the most polarised time in human history. Mainstream news and social media certainly fan these flames like the Santa Ana winds in California. But is that the truth?

Or are we doing a fabulous job of shining the spotlight on the minority of people that hold extreme views?

I think the latter. And not without reason.

If you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma yet – I highly suggest you do. In a nutshell, it’s a sobering watch revealing the ‘dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations’.

It deepened my gratitude for switching off all their notifications popping up on my phone. That was back in the day when you’d get notified about some random person poking you, never mind an arbitrary post about their meal. Trying my best to cultivate a better relationship with my phone I switched off email notifications too. Still, its a work in progress, my screen time today is 5 hours 35 minutes with 36 pickups.

Besides actively trying to disconnect from the rubbish shovelled out daily by Facebook, Instagram, Google and mass media – I just returned from an epic 88 day cross country road trip with my beloved.

Avenue of the Giants (Redwood National Park, California) and Going to the Sun road (Glacier National Park, Montana)

Initially an escape from New York’s four-month lockdown, it became a test, in real time, of what the mainstream narrative was. Opportunities presented themselves while on the road, so we turned one month into three. We love exploring, and with National Parks open the added bonus of spending healing time in nature made it an easy decision.

I don’t believe we’ll ever have an opportunity like that again.

2020’s been a rough year. Between Covid-19, the protests and now elections in a country reportedly so divided – surely some of our interactions across 31 States covering 21 000km would expose us to this vitriol, hatred, and bitterness?

It was the complete opposite.

I know it’s just one couples experience, but all we felt was warmth, connection, and open-hearted conversations. During a time where everyone’s on high alert thanks to covid – if EVER people had reason to demonstrate these negative characteristics with their mask off, it would be now (No not that mask – the kind people use to hide who they really are!)

Covid-19 is serious. Friends and family members have had it, thankfully with no deaths yet. Some friends haven’t been as lucky, losing loved ones. A father, a gran, an aunt. The pain and heartbreak exacerbated as early travel restrictions hampered grieving with remaining family members. Understandably, they support lockdowns.

Conversely I have other friends that lost their jobs, their livelihood through no fault of their own. ‘Punished’ for pursuing their passion in an industry like tourism. A natural response is a desire for things to open back up again to ease more pain being suffered by families struggling to put food in their children’s mouth.

They’re both right.

Unfortunately, this has been politicised with people in each camp vehemently defending their position; and accusing the others of insensitivity and stupidity.

I get it. I often see my desire to be right and defend my beliefs believing them to be true. I recognise now it’s more accurate to say that too, is a work in progress. My brain likes things to be neatly organised into boxes. Scenario P fits in this box which dictates response X. In an ideal world – great. In the real world: impractical.

We don’t live in silos, rather a world interwoven where decisions ripple across the entire pond.

Both experiences are real with genuine pain and suffering. That’s what makes this situation delicate. It’s pointless arguing who’s ‘more’ right. Instead, we’re better off understanding they’re both valid and a better question to answer is: how do we integrate both parties into a solution going forward?

If I look at decisions through one lens its easy to miss the possible ramifications elsewhere. I can choose to eat poorly now – but without the proper nutrients I starve my body of the tools to do what it does best: repair, grow and defend.

This trip gave me the opportunity to think. Covid created a massive pause for all of us. Being on the road showed me how multiple realities exist at the same time. Communicating from one perspective and ignoring another drives a wedge between us.

My clearest takeaway from all of this, is that the day we stop trying to enforce who’s right, and focus on collaboration – we might see how decisions effect people not in our position. Maybe we’ll think about prevention? It blows my mind how much money was generated out of thin air for the much needed stimulus package – but not done to create an education system that gives everyone an equal opportunity to create their own lives.

Instead of politicising Covid and trying to argue who’s right – why not recognise they both are? Where’s the leadership to put peoples lives ahead of a point of view? Where’s the leadership to respectfully tell us they don’t know 100% what this virus is doing? Where’s the humanity to build bridges of respect for each other’s position and cultivate an understanding that not everyone is being affected in the same way?

It’s a complex world we live in. We’re seeing how connected we all are and that decisions made don’t happen in isolation. Nor do they affect everyone in the same way.

As individuals we have a responsibility to understand all positions instead of vilifying any stance that’s contrary to our own. It takes more work to ‘fact check’ things as it’s called – but isn’t a family members life worth taking the time to understand nuance and the complexity of our world?

I don’t want to discount another person’s opinion that could save my family’s life – just because it comes from someone that doesn’t hold all my beliefs.

What am I doing to commit to a world that benefits others, the planet, AND myself?

Monument Valley Photo credit: Andrew Patterson

Earth is the greatest home we could ask for. I knew that before the road trip – but sitting in silence as the sun and wind danced in Monument valley stirred my soul and reminded me: This is our HOME and We all deserve a chance to enjoy her beauty.

Multiple realities are true without diminishing each others importance, in the same way multiple species co-exist in harmony in nature.

Question is: what will it take to celebrate our differences and collaborate for everyone’s benefit?

Let’s start with love and compassion, and an intention to understand the position of someone who thinks differently to us. Lets follow natures lead.

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