Every year in December or January since 2016 I have introduced a new, yearly Theme for this blog about how I or you might develop Better Endings in our lives. This new year, bridging over to it this month, I would like to focus this next year’s monthly topics around the theme of “Building Bridges.”
When I look at the society I live in today and our global experience as well, it appears that to achieve both our individual and collective Better Endings we could all benefit from exploring and putting into practice ways to address or build bridges between highly polarized viewpoints. Some say we are living in a “tribal” sort of culture in America today, and in many other countries as well. Whether this is a result of polarization in our access to social media and news perspectives or primarily through the increasing gulf between political party outlooks, allegiances and goals, we are exposed to conflicting viewpoints daily. I feel that this extrinsic polarity and factionalism can reflect and/or could threaten our internal psychological and spiritual sense of integration or harmony. Our very selves, let alone our families and communities too, may be subject to a greater sense of inner conflict or fragmentation to the extent we allow this, because of the challenging times we inhabit.
So every month this year I will set forth to explore a topic relevant to the overall theme and goal of “building bridges,” aiming to develop some positive outlooks and practices that might help me or any of us to heal or to improve upon tensions that might arise because of a polarization of viewpoints.
Let’s get started. This month I would like to both close this last year’s quest for manifesting happiness and to open this new year’s probe of “building bridges,” via exploring the topic of “service.”
I find that service is one of the best ways for me to be immersed in being happy in the moment. The expression “In service is my reward” feels exactly true for me. Whether through teaching or writing or listening to a friend or even walking my dog, the aspect of giving love through any form of service lifts my spirits.
Isn’t it interesting how service builds bridges? In providing a service, all are served equally (or should be, of course). Political divides nearly dissolve when I interact with students, even when we know each other to hold different positions outside of that connection. Why? I feel it’ s my responsibility to be respectful of all points of view with students, so I may be better able to listen to points of view I might otherwise react strongly to when it is a student voicing the viewpoint. Of course, if there is a radical or extreme viewpoint I am likely going to say something to make it clear I cannot agree, with a clear focus on facts from the topic I am teaching about, but even so I do aim to be respectful and to encourage the student to explain their position clearly.
In giving service it is perhaps more natural to assume an equality-based connection, what I like to call “Soul Equals Soul.” So the question becomes, how can I be of greater service to the whole even while I am a consumer by choice of biased news or charged information? This shall be my December focus in preparation for a year of Building Bridges as a Better Endings theme.