Am I imagining it, or are we becoming a very divided society and alienated from one another? And if this is true, then how do we respond to this, to our fellow humans’ tendency to differentiation, of seeing another as different and as a threat? One area that has been concerning me for some time has been the growth of a tendency in society to separate off from one another in terms of nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, physical ability and welfare dependency, among other differentiations. At one level this may not seem new, one might think “T’was ever thus”, but at another level it seems to me to be very strong at the moment. Do we get engaged and make one group or another wrong and “us” right? Do we make a stand for mutual respect, love and tolerance? Or do we do nothing, or “rise above it” and say, that’s all ego?
I’ve heard recently from an South Asian-origin colleague of a Muslim being spat in the face on a bus by a white woman. I read of disabled people who struggle to work and yet are being deemed fit to work, of people being obsessed by alleged levels of immigration which don’t fit the facts, of a rise in racist abuse, of women being abused by men, or of nationalists wanting to secede. What’s going on?
At one level we might comment on the effects of economic recession and how that stimulates an “us versus them” mentality and the tendency to scapegoat minorities. At another we might want to join in the battle, and get engaged around some sense of conflict. So our minds can get absorbed by awareness of one human’s disagreement with and alienation from another.
Then we might also take the route of the bigger picture, challenging though that can be.
We could support love wherever we experience it, in ourselves and in another. We could note how much that can be positive and uniting that can emerge when people drop their guards and their distrust and suspicion – and feel the real connection that exists between one human being and another.
When we observe disunity, we experience separation, and we project on to one another what really belongs with us ourselves. We don’t take ownership of our own sense of alienation from life. What we make wrong in others is what we really make wrong in ourselves. It is a projection of our dislike of ourselves and feeling separate from and at fault with the One. What we really need to heal is our own psychic injury, our own primal wound. Otherwise the current alienation from one another is another playing out of that age-old ego drama, as we see for example in the doctrines of Original Sin and other beliefs in human kind’s basic “badness”, where it is always the “other person” who has the problem.
We could simply see God in each other.