There is No Peace Without Vigilance

Image Credit: 6-Nedward,

Image Credit: 6-Nedward,

are powerful
forces of nature.

they are destruction.
they are nourishment.
they are flesh.
they are water.
they are flowers
and bone.

they burn. they cleanse
they erase. they etch.

they can either
leave you

or brimming
with home.

~ Sanober Khan

In the 80s, I lived in Kentucky with my first husband. I remember eating dinner with his family, and repeatedly, his father would tell racist jokes. No one said anything about the disrespectful tone in his language. We even had a psychologist at the table, his sister, and she said nothing. I regret not having said anything.

The dinner table in our homes and the dinner table on the political stage are no different. It’s the same dining table.

Decades later, we have Donald Trump sitting at the Republican’s candidacy table, shooting verbal barbs at Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, and others. What’s disconcerting is there must be a no-holds-barred agreement about what can be said or not said. Otherwise, Trump would have been reminded of some standards of communication, and asked to adhere to a set of principles. Since his words set a tone for the nation and the world, the reminder would have been immediate.

With no action, no reminder of any principles of speech, a negative model imprints for parents, teachers, corporate leaders, young people, etc. that abusive language is allowed.

We aren’t standing up for respectable standards of speech. The precursor to violent events: Words that condemn others, and discount their point of view. There is a build-up, a history of harsh words that are exchanged. Words are the first bullets.

Donald Trump, Our Shadow Teacher

The bigger something is on the world stage, the more likely it is a sign on a global scale: A collective spiritual lesson.

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson wrote a book titled “Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out.” This is the only book I’ve discovered that addresses global events as signs. They ask these questions: What are we collectively learning from political events? What’s the spiritual lesson? Are our hearts currently open or shut down?

An ally is a spiritual helper. A shadow ally shows us our undersides. What we don’t want to look at is revealed by Trump’s exaggerated, bombastic behavior. What’s the collective spiritual lesson? It’s a loud wake-up-call message for all of us to shift our communication.

As a shadow ally, he shows us that these unhealthy patterns not only exist, they are excessive, and ultimately harmful:

  • Mocking others is encouraged and pervasive
  • Excluding others is acceptable, especially when they are in need
  • We have an anything-goes policy on standards of speech in politics, on the internet, in the workplace, schools, and in our families
  • Rhetoric (manipulative speech) is used rather than authentic communication
  • Money buys position, even when that individual lacks integrity or clarity

Side Note: Notice the missing left eye in the shadow fox art above. Symbolism: Unaware, blocking truth, afraid to look at something, disconnection from the feminine and the intuitive. Only concerned with outward appearances (right eye focus). Trump is struggling with balancing the masculine/feminine aspects, and so is our government.

A New Vocabulary of Empathy

Our repertoire of words for calling people names is often larger than our vocabulary of words that allow us to clearly describe our emotional states.

~ Marshall B. Rosenberg, Founder, Center for Nonviolent Communication

We are lacking a cultural resource and skill. We need a language of empathy, a language of caring, a language that expresses feeling with regard for ourselves as well as others. A language of mutual respect.

We need a study guide, a vocabulary that helps us identify subtle differences in our emotions whether we are feeling anger, happiness, sadness, etc. Then, we can begin to effectively communicate what we are feeling to others.

Here’s a place to start: Your Free Emotional Vocabulary List by Karla McLaren

As we expand our emotional vocabulary, together, let’s remember:

Peace requires mindfulness of speech.

Book Recommendations

Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out by Corinne McLaughlin & Gordon Davidson

Non-Violent Communication, A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

Video Recommendation

Corinne McLaughlin & Gordon Davidson speak with the Dali Lama about Politics

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