Political: Last year when I visited Israel, I posted on diversity within Israel and quoted Steven Dinan’s work Sacred America, Sacred World, which discusses the merits of a “transpartisan” approach to creating social change. At present, not only Israel/Palestine-but our world- appears fraught with divisions that are being expressed in unhelpful ways-and at times with deep ugliness. Beyond comity, we can learn from ideologies from the left/progressive ends to the right/conservative approaches by doing one or more of the following: i) reading widely (The Nation/New Yorker/The Times AND the WSJ op eds/Commentary/National Review, for example), ii) being in conversation with those from different perspectives (friends and family members should be able to maintain congenial relationships, even if they position themselves on opposite ends) and iii), focusing on the main goal, which is often shared, but approached differently. For example, addressing economic needs of families can be of concern for both, but one approach may be through advocating policies, another may be for individuals or other institutions providing succor. Ultimately, we can learn from both.
Socio-Cultural: Our cultural and subcultural discourses shape our experience. Some may view some cultures and practices as: “progressive,” “refined,” “open,” others as “backwards,” “barbaric,” “close-minded.” When we learn to catch our automatic perceptions and then explore more deeply the reason(s) underpinning such rituals or practices, we may not necessarily find agreement (which is not the goal), but we may find a deeper understanding. We may also see that some perceptions were based upon ignorance, fear and/or unfamiliarity. Some ways to understand culture more deeply is to limit time in front of TV shows, streams, and engage with others from different subcultural groups (GLBT, different ethnic groups, different social classes), and travel. We often will then touch the truth that there’s more in common with us, then divisions, and that there are people for whom we will have a natural affinity with and others for whom we may distance ourselves from-irrespective of culture or subcultural identification.
Religious/Spiritual: In positive psychology, we talk about the sense of transcendence as a virtue. For some, this spiritual transcendence is found in nature, music, dance, art, sport, yoga, meditation, among other creative/spiritual technologies. For others, religious/spiritual transcendence may come from an organized religion, a tradition of study of texts, prayer, rituals and affirmation of a credo. For still others, there may be a combination of both. I think the more we’re secure in our own spiritual lives-however we define that- the more we allow in and see the beauty in many spiritual/religious traditions, practices and ways of striving to live a life of integrity, caring for others, contributing to society and listening to the soul, as we experience the soulfulness of others and our common humanity. Attending services of different faiths can be interesting, reading primary and secondary literature from sacred texts, considering secular and humanistic philosophies that share wisdom, and listening to the “still small voice inside” as it is stirred through poetry, the arts, music, prayer, meditation, and other encounters, which can deepen our appreciation for the many ways we can touch aspects of the divine in our lives, and find it in others. We may also have deeper compassion for our own faith tradition or that of others, understanding that there is no perfection in how we humans have sought to express ourselves in relation to the divine or the institutions that have embedded within them imperfect beings.