Can you truly love your neighbor?

This statistic is scary. Pew Research Center conducted a survey that was published on June 22, 2016, which stated that "55% of Democrats fear Republicans, and 49% of Republicans feel the same as Democrats." That translates as 1 out of 2 Americans is afraid of a person of a differing political belief. 1 in 2! If you are terrified by a member of the other party, why? Look in your own hearts to see why you find a member of the other party disdainful. Start with yourself. Start to make peace with what you don't like about someone. You don't have to love them, just allow someone else to have a voice, as much as you want your own voice to be heard.

Today, several people are wondering how did we get here. How? My take it is about the level of tolerance in this country. Can you accept that someone else may not have your same political beliefs without bashing them for having their own thoughts? Can you truly love thy neighbor?

Personally, I have some friends who say they are open minded, but only when it comes to people who share their same belief - yes, both liberals and conservatives are guilty of this. You may think that I am joking about it coming from liberals as well as conservatives, but I am not. Look at the statistics above - half of the population is afraid of the other half. 

I am a conservative, yes, may be hard for many of you to swallow or believe that an acupuncturist, yogi and yoga teacher is such, but that is what I am. Yes, this election had me questioning my beliefs, which is good. It is healthy to look at oneself and self-reflect. I digress.

Here are two examples (of many that I have personally experienced) of how I have seen my friends not accept my beliefs without me even saying what they are. Several years ago, I was talking to a neighbor about someone renting a townhouse who worked for both Clinton and Bush at some level in the government. My neighbor immediately said "I would never let a Republican rent my home." Point blank, without even knowing what party affiliation this couple had. My immediate thought was "Would she even be talking to me if she knew I was a Republican." I didn't say it. I chalked up to her opinion, and I am still friends with her because I value what she has to offer.  My second example is from a couple of months ago after a yoga class, I was talking with several students about the election. One of them said, "Of course she is a Democrat, she does yoga, is an acupuncturist, and snowboards." They assumed that I was liberal because of what I do. It was unfathomable that I would be anything else. To me the fact that people who claim to be open are so closed to someone having a differing opinion is part of the problem in this country. The level of intolerance is palpable.

So what can we do? Many today are talking about acting out of love and being the change. So be the change. Begin to look at your own thoughts, beliefs and how you react or respond to someone else who has a different belief. If you respond with disdain, anger or disgust, this is what you need to look at. Ask yourself "Why do I feel this way? Am I ready to judge a person by their party affiliation? Why am I angry? Is there more to this person than their political alliance? Are they kind, loving, or good?" And this is not meant to be about projecting onto another, it about self-reflection. 

Personally, I know this is not an easy exercise. For years, I have been doing this. If someone triggers me with their actions, words or beliefs than I look at myself. What is it within me that I do not like or accept that they are reflecting back to me that is causing this reaction? If there is disdain about someone holding a different belief, than why is it that I cannot accept their belief? Why? They are allowed to have their own opinion that is based upon their own experiences in life - their whole life from birth to the present moment. I want people to have a differing perspective than me because it allows me to learn and grow from what they have to offer. We all have walked different paths in this life, and we should not all be expected to have the same opinions. 

And I know that there is the room for us, as a nation, to come together. I was woken up at 6:30am the day after the election by a friend's text. We have different political views; however, we both acknowledged that so many American are hurting, feeling unheard, suffering and this election allowed them to be heard. We both believe that the level of intolerance is at the crux of this country's issues. It is our time as a nation to truly listen without judgement what the other has to say. 

So again, I ask you to go within. Look at yourself first, before you look at another with contemptuousness. Do you have fear a member of the other political party? Do you truly accept people for all of who they are or do you judge them prematurely? Be truthful to yourself when asking yourself these questions. Many are saying to go with love. One of my many teachers' said: "Walk your talk. Talk your walk." If you speak of love, love with an open heart and act through love in all of your actions.