You don’t have to look too hard to find examples of how divided our world is. Turn on the news or scroll through your newsfeed, and you’ll see politicians at each other’s throats, angry tweets, protests, riots, and rants.
"How do we really show that we love each other?"
We often hear that our spiritual work is meant to help us love each other and to find unity. We see quotes and memes on the internet that say things like, “Only love can conquer hate.” We share these messages, and in our hearts, we believe they are true. But how do we actually put them into practice? How do we really show that we love each other?
1. Listen more and judge less.
When we feel passionately about something, it can be incredibly difficult to listen to a different point of view. We might assume we already know what the other person is going to say. We might even vilify them, believing their opinions are evil, immoral, or wrong, so we tune them out. But if we are unwilling to listen to someone else, how can we expect them to hear us out in return? And how can we ever expect to learn or grow from those around us?
We don’t all need to agree nor do we need to compromise our values to be civil and respectful. There is incredible power in just being silent for a moment and letting another person explain their viewpoint. Try to understand where they are coming from, no matter how strange or wrong their opinion might seem. It may open your eyes to something you hadn’t accounted for, or you may at least start to understand why that person feels the way they do. This opens the door for us to stop seeing each other as enemies and to start recognizing one other as complex people with valid opinions.
2. Express your opinions with compassion.
We can’t change other people. It is up to each of us to make changes to ourselves. This means trying to force others to agree with us rarely ever works.
But if we are willing to make the effort, it is possible that we can convey our thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a healthy, compassionate way that can make an impact.
It can be tempting to get heated in an argument, but if we approach others with the intention of love, we can hopefully convey ourselves in a respectful manner. It’s about setting our consciousness before we speak. Are we trying to force someone to agree with us, or to open their eyes to a different viewpoint?
3. Be kind to others, even if you don’t think they deserve it.
Every person, from our best friend to our worst enemy, is made from the Creator. That means we all share the same spiritual essence. Sometimes people are rude, insensitive, mean-spirited, and short-sighted. It does not make them any less worthy of love.
When we are faced with someone that we can’t stand, it is a huge opportunity for us to put our spiritual work into practice. Can we overcome those feelings to extend a loving hand? Think about the person that most angers or upsets you. What would it take for you to be kind to this person? Would you help them out if they were in a bind? Kindness is contagious. When we make a conscious effort to treat people with respect and love, especially when it is difficult for us, it has the ability to inspire others to act the same way.
Being kind does not mean that we let people walk all over us or mistreat us. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for them and for ourselves is to walk away from a relationship or situation that causes us pain. It also doesn’t mean that we refrain from standing up to them if they hurt others. With the right consciousness, we can be strong and take action from a place of love.
4. Let people make their own decisions.
Creating unity does not mean that we all think and act the same way. Our job is to love our neighbors, even if we don’t agree with them. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree, and that’s ok! People form their opinions based on their life experiences, what they’ve been exposed to, and the people around them. It’s impossible to ever understand all of the factors that make a person who they are. But giving them space to figure things out and make decisions, even if they are wrong, actually helps bridge the separation.
5. Try to find common ground.
From behind our phones and keyboards, it is easy to see other people as two-dimensional cartoons – something so different from us that we have absolutely nothing in common. But the truth is that people are multi-faceted. When we sit down and connect with people, we often find that we have more in common than not. It is up to us to look past the differences and try to see the similarities. The more we realize that we are alike, the more unified we become.
Rav Berg once said, “Unity is when we overcome the characterizations of the separateness of each other, and choose instead to connect on a soul level.”
The fact that we are a world divided is an opportunity for us to do the spiritual work required to find unity. It means having patience, restricting our reactive nature, and learning to see others for what they are: beautiful creations of God. The more we practice these behaviors, the more Light we reveal, and the more it becomes part of our very nature.