Monday, April 20, 2020

Recognizing the Enemy

It is distressing to me how easily this coronavirus pandemic has degenerated into a political battle. I was reminded of this over the weekend while witnessing the anger expressed in demonstrations across the country for “Opening Up America Again.” If there is one situation where we should be able to cooperate for the common good, it is this one. But it appears that I am mistaken … again. Each side blames the other for making the pandemic a partisan issue. Each side claims the moral high ground and demonizes the other.

I guess I should not be surprised at this development. Indeed I would be surprised if it were any different. Instead of bringing people together, it seems that times of national crisis too often drives people deeper into their warring tribes – liberals versus conservatives, Democrats versus Republicans, Trumpers versus anti-Trumpers, our religion versus their religion, our nation versus those nations, patriotic versus unpatriotic, American versus un-American, people like us versus people not like us.

Whatever label you choose to give to me, I am not your enemy. I refuse to make you into my enemy. We are in this together. Back in mid-20th century, Walt Kelly was writing his Pogo comic strip, which was often filled with profound, yet simple, wisdom. One memorable comic in 1972, penned during a time of great social discord in our country, had the words: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

When I ponder those words, it is like jumping down a rabbit hole into Wonderland. When we look closely at our enemy we see they are no different than us. I can see this clearly, even in the midst of the bitter political rhetoric of today. I see myself in the faces of the people who take the opposite position than I do on issues.

It takes very little imagination for me to see myself under other circumstances believing what they believe. A slightly different place of birth or trajectory in life, and I am them. They are me. They are my sisters and brothers, my sons and daughters. They are not my enemy. They are fellow humans. Our enemy is us.

The divisions that we see around us are simply the divisiveness of our own souls projected onto the world. National boundaries are nothing more than imaginary lines drawn on maps. The spread of this virus has reminded us of that. 

Racial differences are no more physically significant than being able to roll your tongue. (I can’t; don’t hate me for it.) Religious divisions are illusory, nothing more than ideas in our minds that are given the aura of Truth by the authority of scriptures and traditions.

I say it so often that some might find my words repetitive, but I will say it again. We are one. We are one with every other human being on this earth, as our DNA shows. We are one with all living things on this planet, as our DNA also shows. 

We are one with the earth, as our body chemistry shows. We are earth and return to earth. We are earthlings. We are one with the universe. We are born of the universe and are never separate from it. We are universelings. We are the universe aware of itself. 

We are one with God, which is simply a name we give to Reality in order to make the Incomprehensible more approachable. We come from God and return to God. We are the image of God, as my Scriptures say. We are mirrors reflecting God’s image back to God. 

There are no divisions in Reality. All is one. There is no “us versus them.” It is all our imagination. Therefore all we have to do is reimagine. May we let go of the contempt, name-calling and self-righteousness and see ourselves in the faces of the enemy. Our enemy is us. We are them. We are one.