Expanding the Moral Imagination

“How we treat each other is entirely up to us.” President Barack Obama

Often, we react from an emotional state instead of acting from a place of remembrance that we are all connected. The Institute of HeartMath has multiple peer reviewed studies published on this connection.

“The heart produces by far the body’s most powerful rhythmic electromagnetic field, which can be detected several feet away by sensitive instruments. Research shows our heart’s field changes distinctly as we experience different emotions. It is registered in people’s brains around us and apparently is capable of affecting cells, water and DNA studied in vitro. Growing evidence also suggests energetic interactions involving the heart may underlie intuition and important aspects of human consciousness.” (http://www.heartmath.com/research/)

No longer can we claim that what w think only affects us as individuals. Now, more than ever, we are called to rise above the polarity, fear, and hatred that swirls through the uncertainty that surrounds us.

If violence is the action of someone an absence of imagination to express their emotions, certainly belligerence is the action in absence of imagination to express values and beliefs.  At a memorial to victims of a shooting in Tucson, AZ in 2011, President Obama encouraged us “to avoid disagreeing to be disagreeable.” As we shift into a space where we engage in dialog based on what really matters, our interest, versus the positions that we argue, we are forced to really look at our values.

What are your basic beliefs? Without knowing those you cannot express your interests. Maslow identifies some basic needs we all seek:

  • Physiological needs
  • Safety needs
  • Love and belonging
  • Esteem
  • Self-actualization
  • Self-transcendence

and that is where we must begin our dialog. Are we willing to release the rhetoric of fear and scarcity that has so irresponsibly been spoon fed to the masses? I believe we can. It starts with a commitment to love, even when we disagree. Regardless of how different we are, I can still recognize a person as a fellow human being who experiences all the same emotions, challenges, and successes we all do in life. We are one. When one hurts, we all hurt. That is where we begin.IMG_20120712_075914

A wise teacher of mine once said, “Hurt people hurt; they hurt themselves, they hurt others, and often both.” Hurt people often make excellent activists, desiring to right the wrong. When that activism turns to belligerence, dialog becomes strained, at best, impossible at worst. It becomes very difficult to look beyond the actions to see the essence and love the person unconditionally, especially when that person is targeting you.

When you are pushed to the brink of hate, you no longer care about asking, “Why do you feel that way?” to go below the surface. Yet, we must. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We are called continuously, day in and day out to love more, to go beyond positions to experience the commonality of our interests. Only then can we make just and lasting change. Only then can we elevate our consciousness.