There are strong feelings in the air about the outcome of the elections, the move of Obama on immigration and the many good old dramas of politics. The battle between the reds and blues is reaching a new juicy showdown that keeps us engaged, enraged, entertained and entranced. There are often valid points on both sides and the many side spaces in the middle. We all have opinions and for the most part we all believe we are right, right? The funny part is that we act surprised even though there is nothing ever new to the political dramas. The lines between the legislative and executive, and even the judiciary branches of government have long become blurry, thanks to the ever increasing influence of special interests. Regardless of our political jersey, we all know it but still adore arguing about the results. Behind the curtains of the political puppet theater, both sides and every side in the halls of Capitol Hill sadly or happily acknowledges this reality, depending who wins the game. Like in sports, “we the people”, are desperately chasing “the win” in every election in the hope that our team gets the trophy and we get candy (sweet taste of victory). From sports we know that the sugar rush of win quickly fades and the looser-ghost quickly catches up from behind, for winners and losers alike. With seemingly no way out, as politicians and “we the people” we react in a tantrum and try to convince why the other side is wrong and in this way we continuously re-create and feed the game of the public machine, res publica ( the origins of the word republic and literally the public thing in Latin).
What if nobody is wrong and everybody is right? What if we find the courage to starve the machine that exclusively feeds on good and bad, right and wrong, red or blue i.e. polarity? What if we let our public heart — a place beyond polarity — lead the way i.e. govern?
The public heart – cor publicum in Latin – relinquishes the very premises of our mind-based political system: the strategy of “divide and conquer” , fine-tuned by the ancient Roman empire, and the doctrine of “delegation of power”. Many realize that our political machine is rotten and preventing even well-intended politicians to make any meaningful difference. In our insanity, we are beating a dead horse over and over again and getting upset at why it won’t breathe. The good news is that WE are alive and our hearts are breathing, silently beating the drum for the emergence of a long-forgotten collective song. Yes, our hearts might be atrophied from a long, harsh “monarchy of the mind.” The fight of the mind to transcend its very operating system (res publica) can be fierce. Yet, with a courageous heart we can choose not to indulge in the games of the public machine — and the machine in us — that are terrified of relinquishing control.
“Divide and conquer” is the game that convinces us there are two conflicting sides fighting for power and control in a world of scarce resources. It is the game to get as many people on our side so that we can beat the other because we are right/good and the other side is wrong/bad. This game can be very sophisticated to the point that we use “divide and conquer” in the name of grander causes like freedom, justice, democracy, and the environment. How often do we engage in “divide and conquer” in our personal lives, at work, in our families? We all know it well.
And what about “delegation of power”? In a mind-based paradigm, we often define and express power as hierarchical control of money and status leading to the common collective definition of corruption, greed and heartless untrustworthiness. In a heart-based paradigm, power is adult level responsibility of co-creating forms of governance aligned with heart wisdom, capable of reconciling the conflicts of the mind into an integrated whole. The way each of us defines power programs the collective mind and body. And most of us, no matter how “evolved”, are still emanating mind power. So why are we so surprised of having the same experiences of collective power over and over again? When we believe that our power can be funneled into our “representatives”, we are not only transferring our belief systems about collective power onto our representatives, we are also unconsciously sacrificing our collective responsibility. We create a split between what we are individually and collectively. Power is inherent to and the responsibility of every citizen and there is no separation between what we are and do in our individual lives and collective lives. What we are in our personal lives feeds our collective body, and what politicians do in their collective action feeds our individual bodies, no matter how much we are trying to keep them separate. When we delegate power to our “representatives” we basically relinquish responsibility and express unconscious power. This gives us permission to chase “candy” (the sweet taste of victory) , whine about the results and the hopelessness of nothing ever really changing, or else check out completely. No matter what we do or do not do, we are all part of the same collective body and we continuously express our definition of power, consciously or unconsciously, which in turns determines the health of our collective body.
The way into heart-based power is not by fighting the elections results and eternally debating whether Obama or the reds are right or wrong. It is by simply letting the heart take charge in that we pause, deal with our strong feelings, embody a heart-based definition of power in our personal and daily lives, be mindful when we engage in “divide and conquer” and when we “delegate power”. When we have dealt with the raging voices of our minds and the strong feelings in our bodies, we may find quiet guidance in our public heart, which is present in each of us NOW. The systems of governance emerging from cor publicum – the public heart – are not a “thing” of the future and are not likely to be a result of a formal process of constitutional and legal changes because the current political machine can only re-create structures matching its own mind-based consciousness. Thus, let’s stop chasing our tails in the hope for our team winning. It will not happen. What we can do is to challenge the premises that are feeding the machine in our lives, be vulnerable, take a radical level of responsibility for the machine we created, embody heart-based power and listen for that space in our heart where right/wrong and god/bad dissolves into an unexpected integration.
The good news is that for heart consciousness to reach a critical mass – which will naturally shift our systems of governance – we only need 2.5% of the population, and we do not need to be enlightened, just be aware and humble when we fall back up into our minds. The good news is that the way of the heart is simple, forgiving and always available. And, in the spirit of the season, a proven way into our heart is gratitude. Gratitude for what is — the sorrows and the joys — the gift of being alive and the opportunity to make new choices each moment. So let’s offer the gift of gratitude of this Thanksgiving to our public heart in the faith that it will quietly guide us into a more sustainable game when we choose to slow down and be curious.
So let’s turn our chase for candy into a turkey dance…