It’s the end of August 2020 in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last week in the U.S. was the online Democratic National Convention, and this week is the Republican Convention. The difference between the narratives of the two parties is astounding, as different as night and day. The differences of belief people hold around the pandemic and other social issues is just as stark. It’s like we live in parallel universes that no longer have points of contact with each other. I think of it as mental viruses of beliefs that polarize and are spreading through the world.
Evolutionarily, shared story has been a way for increasingly larger groups of humans (e.g. tribes to villages, to cities, to nations) to cooperate, uniting in opposition to a common enemy. But what if that way won’t work anymore? A growing number of divergent and virulent beliefs swirl through the internet and social media, facilitating people fracturing and atomizing into tribal groups and polarizing against one another. This is happening at a time when we humans need to be coming together and working together globally to respond to the looming existential challenges we face. So, what if we let go expecting or even hoping beliefs will converge in shared reality?
Perhaps there is now another way we can connect and cooperate, other than shared story; a way that the breadth of humanity can feel its/our kinship across conflicting differences. Perhaps it is shared awareness, or consciousness, that can do this? The awesome power of thought and language have taken us this far, but now they are potentially leading us to destruction. Expanding our capacity for mindful awareness could be the evolutionary leap we need. In empathic communication, practice centers around observing awareness of mind, feeling presence in the body, consciousness as universal need language, energy, and spaciousness, and the natural compassion and generosity that flow from this. We can enjoy and connect through the stories our minds love to create, but whenever you feel yourself caught in the polarization of thought and belief, you could try shifting focus to the underlying commonality and sameness of awareness, aliveness, and contribution to wellbeing.
To go deeper into the idea of evolution and consciousness, I recommend spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle.