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  • Judith Miller

Election Season 2016: Stop the Bullying

Today, many thought leaders are referring to the term “Consciousness of Oneness,” as a way for people to have improved lives. When we experience Oneness, we bring together mind and heart. First, we utilize our mind through the possibilities born from genuine cooperation, the creative power of dialogue, and generosity. Every human being and every aspect of existence is uniquely valuable. Second, we feel in our heart that we are part of something beyond ourselves, that there is harmony and meaning in life.

The opposite of Oneness is duality, in which one group or individual takes priority over another. Dualistic thinking support labels like “right” or “wrong” or “better than” or “less than,” or “politically correct” or “politically incorrect,” all of which undermine collaboration.

A chaotic and challenging election season is upon us. Every day, we feel overwhelmed, hearing political analysts shouting insults at one or another of the presidential candidates. We also read blistering words in newspapers and social media insulting the besieged individuals who are running for America’s highest office. Why are we so mean to those who say they want to be President in order to help make our country and the lives of its people better? The presidential candidates themselves join the ensuing disorder as they fiercely defend themselves and attack each other. Increasingly, we find our fellow citizens calling each other bitter names when their favored presidential choice is vilified. Why all the obsession directed toward our candidates’ vulnerabilities and persona, such as age, appearance, actions of their spouse, or financial status? In addition, shootings, acts of terrorism, intolerance, and racial and social injustices continue to appear on the nightly news. Such topics are discussed at the neighborhood cafe, on Facebook, at the office water cooler, and maybe even at our own dinner tables.

So much anger and bullying going on! Definitions of bullying include such descriptions as threat, force, abuse to intimidate, and aggressively dominating others. There are negative effects from bullying for everyone involved; the targeted individual or group, the bully, and the bystanders. How will we teach our children not to bully when this is what they see all around them? Increased exposure to such emotional violence, cause children to experience more stress at younger and younger ages. It is known that even in the womb, a child picks up the mother’s stress. Stress chemicals such as adrenalin and cortisol cross the placenta. What we experience in this election season has consequences long after the new President is chosen.

How can we and future generations experience true peace and well-being? Do we let ourselves fully experience life’s gifts? Or will these gifts be overshadowed by the huge splits and divisions currently sensed all around us? Will we remain obsessed with how America is self-destructing—with no relief in sight? Perhaps we are in denial and therefore, push such painful thoughts beneath the surface of consciousness. How do we authentically live our life, with all the disturbing events going on near and far?

First, it is important that we do not forget the times of personal happiness and success we appreciate in our relationships, and in our creative and vocational pursuits. We feel peace and fulfillment in the beauty of nature, and in art and music. Our hearts are open with pride and love towards our children, and we encounter warm joy when man’s best friend cuddles and licks our face. What emotions stir when we kiss our beloved?

Second, what would actually happen if we began to acknowledge and seriously listen to the ideas of others that differ from our own; beliefs which they honestly believe are the answers to societal problems? Suppose we even began to consider that the presidential candidates, like each of us, are imperfect human beings? Maybe we could also consider that they have good intentions for our country? What if we would not express anger, or belittle or insult those who hold differing world-views from our own? Instead, we would listen carefully and start a dialogue. Maybe, we might even begin to learn from each other.

Our educators and helping professionals have encouraged children and adults to feel a high level of self-esteem and individuality. There has been an emphasis on gratification and personal success. To psychologists, this makes a lot of sense. It is commonly understood how a lack of self-worth and esteem can seriously inhibit well-being for both children and adults. Nevertheless, too much self-esteem can be a problem, as well. Feeling smug and superior, often leads to abusing relationships. Much too often, individuals who engage in boasting are intolerant of those who hold different views. They will become angry and bullying to anyone who rejects them. With self-esteem, as with much in life, balance is everything. Helping professions and society in general must begin to take these challenges seriously.

Finally, while global unity is an agreed upon aspiration for many psychologists, philosophers and cultural leaders, before we can even hope to achieve such unity, let alone, live it, we must come together in our own country. We must stop bullying and become open and affirming of the rich differences in perspectives and world-views among us. We must listen to what others have to say, and respect their right to express themselves—even when we radically disagree with their views. Research data shows that when people come together within their own society, they become stronger.[i] We need this strength more than ever.

A consciousness of Oneness has been referred to as the answer to world peace and harmony. The question must be asked. If we cannot fully acknowledge and accept the differences among us within our own society first, how will we possibly be able to authentically accept other cultures, peoples, and ways of life?

Wise sages from around the world, throughout time, inform us that we are part of a vast, unlimited reality. And this reality can creatively hold, integrate, and respect differing perspectives, points of view, and ideologies. As long as we can look at others, and see and feel their essence and common humanity, there is hope for a unified country and ultimately, a unified world.

What can we in America do now, in this election season 2016? It is time to heal ourselves and our country. This means to begin to fully realize that each of us is one small part of a larger whole. We must overcome the artificial divisions, right here at home. The only authentic way to contribute and become part of a new consciousness of Oneness, is to open our minds and heart, to fully understand, acknowledge, and respect our differences, and to realize that we are all connected and one with the same magnificent and mysterious universe.

T.S. Eliot said, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end, is to make a beginning.”

Wishing our presidential candidates – and ourselves — peace, wisdom, and hope in this election season, and beyond.

[i] Toynbee, Arnold J. and Urban GR, Toynbee on Toynbee, NY: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Originally published in Psychology Today on June 6, 2016.

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