Conservative, middle of the road, and radical, can be used to describe types of people; but they are inadequate because they don’t depict the whole person or where they could have been at different points on their life journey. For example, while I primarily reside on the left of politics, especially with climate change and social justice, I can, however, be conservative and middle of the road in other areas of human existence. Also, there seems to be a pattern that as we get older – we can leave black and white propositions behind us, as we become disillusioned with shattered dreams of how we thought we could change the world and how the world could actually change. Added to all this are the very different conceptions each of us attach to the words ‘conservative, middle of the road, and radical.’ One person’s conservative is another person’s radical, and so on.
Now, I want to go from those ideas I just presented to the idea of the healing of the national mind.
People say it’s healthy to disagree, and it’s OK to agree to disagree. Yes, this is a democracy we live in and it makes sense to have your own opinion. What I am suggesting, though, is that many times what we are really doing is not only having a different perspective, but we are alienating ourselves from the other person and we are purposefully keeping away from them. In effect, we have nothing to do with them. We can live in families or shared households and take different positions on issues and find ourselves in an ‘invisible divorce’ scenario, which Harville Hendrix describes in his book, Getting the Love You Want. I personally believe that we live in bubbles all over the planet nowadays, and there is, for me, a problematic rising emotional climate change, of one group’s aggression against the other.
What I am saying is that it is good to disagree and there may even be a distance between people that is a natural and even an important logical consequence; at least for a time. My concern is when a nation is torn apart by conservative, middle of the road, and radical groups and there is a national invisible divorce which is destructive in the long run. It becomes ‘us vs them’ mayhem. We need a commitment to real peacemaking.
What if an invitation went out to every person in the country to come together to heal the alienation between us? It could begin with a shaking of the hand and even progress towards a hug. Ultimately, it may lead to crying together by acknowledging the things that have kept us apart for years. It may then progress to grieving together.
I am very aware that to heal the national mind is, on one level, idealistic and completely impossible. I get that. In reality, it could take many years to achieve, I am sure. And it will take careful and fastidious planning with detailed sensitive strategies.
In the end, I am a dreamer, and I will continue to dream of a grieving culture where it becomes normal to cry with people who are opposite to us in the way they look at life.
Vincent Tivoli is a mental health advocate.