Holding Paradox to Bridge Our Differences

Bridging our differences is, I believe, what we humans now need to do to survive and support the flourishing of Earth, yet it seems impossibly out of reach. We may think we need to choose between pessimism or optimism, but why not be both? What happens if we hold the paradox? There is much to be pessimistic about: global warming, ecosystem/biodiversity degradation and collapse, rise in war, conflict, food insecurity and mass forced migrations, an erosion of democracy, economic instability, staggering rise in inequality, massive social disruption from artificial intelligence and other technological advances happening at exponentially rapid rates of change. Another mass shooting and killing of children and teachers at an elementary school. 

We can also be optimistic and deeply moved and inspired by how much our consciousness of interconnectedness, empathy, compassion, and mindful self-awareness is also growing exponentially. It seems to me a great tidal surge of love for each other in our shared humanity and for the life of the planet is happening all over the world on a massive scale. Although it’s easy to feel hopeless and pessimistic about the political divisions and polarizations, what I also see is the growing recognition that left and right, liberal and conservative, need each other. Both sides, including all the facets of different perspectives within each side, on their own are careening toward the extremes and none by themselves have the answers to solve the tremendous problems and challenges we face. We need the creative integration and cooperation of all perspectives to catapult us to a new level of possibility, as when hydrogen and oxygen first came together to make water. Can we hold the paradox of seeming opposites until they fuse into a new level of collective relationship, organization, and wellbeing?

I believe this is the time of the great transition and great awakening, the time that the ancients told us was coming. Like it or not, we happen to be here at this time. Can we welcome what is already here and what is coming, however difficult, terrifying, and painful? I try to remember that everything is as it is because of all that has come before, plus the emergence of new creativity in every moment. We are evolving, individually and collectively, as we have for 14 billion years. Current reality is the present culmination of that journey. I remind myself that Life is a continual process of self-transformation, as the first animals who courageously emerged from the sea to live on land and fly through the air, as the caterpillar becomes the butterfly. Each of us gets to contribute to this change from the beauty and power of our evolving, self-aware individuality, as we grow in consciousness of our unity and interdependence.