“All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.” ~ Albert Einstein
Every day last week I turned on the radio on my way to pick up Meena from pre-school. The Diane Rehm Show airs in that time slot.
The first day Rehm had on experts about Eurozone’s debt crisis in light of Greece’s insolvency (a polite way of saying bankruptcy). The next day the topic was Obama’s deficit-reduction plan (we’re still not using the D word for America’s economy). The following day Diane had a discussion about Palestinian’s bid for statehood at the UN.
On every broadcast I heard well-spoken, brilliant reporters, directors, politicians, ministers, and scholars speak about monumental problems. On every broadcast I heard a variance of the same theme: There is a plan, there is a general agreement. We just need to implement it, but politics are getting in the way.
Honestly I didn’t notice the theme about politics stunting progress until the third morning when one of Rehm’s guests repeated the statement: political agendas and maneuvers have slowed the process of resolution and created stalemates.
I like to think of people as being inherently good. That people with responsibility use their authority for the good of others, as all public servants should. Admittedly, man doesn’t often live up to these expectations. I learned much about human nature having seen the politics of an international religious institution up close for forty years. Politics is politics wherever it resides. Never a pretty picture.
If we form our identity around our jobs, areas of responsibilities, or nations more strongly than with our spiritual selves we lose touch with our heart and the guidance it offers. The result is always conflict. Look at any conflict small or large and I promise the invested parties haven’t gotten deeply in touch with their hearts. Hearing counsel from our core selves isn’t automatic for most people. It takes regular practice since our loudest voices are the thoughts from our minds not intuition from our hearts.
I don’t claim politicians never seek inner guidance as they govern, vote, or make policies and laws. More often the issue is how to increase the heart’s influence. The head can put up a real battle when the heart sends a clear message (that’s if we’re even paying attention to listen) and cut off the heart’s intuition.
At first it is counterintuitive, or feels unnatural, to go to the heart. Logic or habits dictate we should go with intellect, deep thought, to solve the problems of politics, management, financial crisis and the hard issues. But if we strangle intuition we lose the best opportunities life has to offer. Maybe you get clear insight into a behavior change, but before you transform insight into action, you think of justifications and rationalizations that persuade you not to change.
The heart can remind us of our spiritual identity. And we can put that discernment into practice by daily recalling that we are not a head of state, president, CEO, banker, reporter, educator, scholar, or mom but a soul with work in this world. To carry out our specific responsibilities we must follow the integrity of our heart to enable harmonious relationships, efficient commerce, and cooperative management—on any level.
Integrity is defined as the “state of being whole or undiminished.” If a politician—or any one of us—is blocking progress in ourselves, family, work, or relationships we’re diminished. Unfortunately, we also diminish others by being out of sync with ourselves. To become whole we must look to our integrity. Not an imagined integrity dictated by our minds, but the integrity of the essence of our being.
This isn’t an intellectual exercise. We must draw our conscious awareness to our heart, sit with it, and listen to the messages we receive. We can do this through prayer, meditation, spiritual activities, or empirical heart-based work like the exercises explained by Doc Childre in his book The HeartMath Solution. The book explains the science and clinical evidence that show a heart-centered approach to life offers powerful insights, positive change, and physical health. Whatever tools, methods, or a combination of them that we use to connect ourselves to inner guidance we have to approach this work with sincerity, honesty, and regular commitment. It’s not easy. But it is an efficient, effective, and fulfilling way to live.
If we operate intellectually without heart we conduct ourselves outside the guidance and insight that can confer astounding results in science, art, exploration, and yes, politics. The most significant discoveries (oftentimes stumbled upon by accident or in a flash of insight), creative excellence, and effectual politics are the results of humans tapping into a source greater than themselves.
This is the spiritual energy. It comes from a connection with our hearts.
Spirit is more powerful than mind. It is capable of solving the most complicated dilemmas and delivering knowledge outside the purview of the human intellect. Turning to our deep heart is a little way of being that offers tremendous results.
A friend who practices centering with her heart told me that her heart often tells her how to approach problems, conflicts, or her emotions in exactly the opposite way that her mind has told her. She said, “It’s almost like there’s the heart-me and the mind-me. I have to take counsel from the mind-me, but the heart-me is the one that solves the real problems.”
Talking about heart-centered solutions for intellectual quandaries is perhaps just too much to hope for when approaching the politicians who are standing in the way of progress. So last night I thought, What if we asked the First Ladies around the world to sit with their husbands and talk heart-sense into them?
What kind of whimsy is that? I wondered. A good one, I guessed, if it had any practical application. The Ladies themselves would need to immerse themselves in some heart sessions. But why not?