Good and Evil

by admin on August 6, 2011

In response to a friend’s comments that the Tea Party is an expression of evil in the world, I wrote up the following thoughts:
What I experience within myself, as I do my mindfulness meditation, is a tension between parts of the brain, that may correspond with ‘good and evil’. The Reptilian brain – or instinctual part of our brain – causes us to want to fight or run away whenever we run into what appears to be a threat. It wants us to gratify physical and sexual needs even at the expense of others. The forebrain invites us to more thoughtful, to consider others’ feelings, to look at the wider picture and integrate our full understandings in whatever we do.

Much of religious thought had looked at the instinctual side of our being with shame and vindictiveness, calling it ‘sinful’. What I’ve come to believe through Nonviolent Communication and other things, is that the instinctual side is a source of aliveness and joy as well as suffering, and that we want to find ways to nurture and direct its power. Just like when a beloved dog is peeing on our favorite bush, we don’t hit and blame the dog, but rather try to get it to pee in a better place.

I see the instinctual side all the time with the day care kids. They’re forever hitting each other and saying ‘mine’ when another kid wants their toy. But it’s not bad, or evil, it’s just the instinctual side of us, part of our life energy, that has to be integrated into effective and harmonious ways of being.

The Tea Party has tapped into the Reptilian Brain emotions of many. People’s anxieties have found a scapegoat – something they can hate, and feel united and empowered in hating. Somehow we have to find a way to communicate in a way that invites others to move away from the instinctual anger, toward a more inclusive and harmonious way of thinking.

This is serious business. If we can’t find the way to do this, I don’t see anything that will stop a slide into a cycle of economic disruption, resulting in fear and anger, polarization that results in more disruption, then more fear and anger, etc. Somehow we have to find a vision of democracy that inspires us in this context, and the appropriate processes that empower people to engage in meaningful dialogue and participation in the societal decisions being made.

Maybe we need to approach individual leaders of religious organizations and dialogue with them about how to encourage a spirit of collaboration and positive action rather than fear and anger.

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