Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Monday night as I prepared for bed, I found myself thinking about the historic events of the day. I found myself pondering how my emotions were so different than some of the people who I know and respect. At first, I started concocting a rock solid argument for why I was right. It occurred to me that this, in itself, is an act of war. I intend to invest no energy in war. Therefore, I had to do something different.

Funny thing, even with the strong desire, the focused attention, and a background in yoga and meditation, I found it incredibly challenging, almost impossible to move my thoughts away from "being right" for very long. Even harder, was trying to have any notion of why a person might feel the way they did about an event or situation.

Every person comes from a unique background comprised of the culture they are born in, the family they are born to, and even the birth order in which they find themselves. I know from my experience as a parent, that the way you look at life when you have your first child and the way you see it when you have your second can be radically different. Each of us then has our own life experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, and with our sophisticated brain, we draw large conclusions about life while living it. Each conclusion then becomes a part of the lens through which we view the world and each person's lens is very different. By the time we are adults these lenses are so ingrained in the way we think, that we rarely question them.

So back to me sitting on my bed. I realized the only thing for me to do was accept that each of us comes from someplace very different. I realized I must radically accept, especially those I love and respect, as having viewpoints equal in validity to my own. I understood that the situation at hand was calling me to make a choice. That choice was to either close down and make enemies with ideas and people whom I do not agree with or to walk a different path and greet these difference with open-hearted acceptance.

The next day my oldest daughter, who knows nothing of the war in Iraq or Bin Laden, asked me what I thought could bring peace to the world. I thought for a moment and responded that we can really only bring peace to our own hearts and that we have to be satisfied at some level with that. That our presence in the world peacefully was proof that peace was possible. And I remarked that this honestly is a huge challenge that most of us will struggle with for a long time.

I found this TED talk today that really illustrates the challenge of understanding another person's experience.