One time I had a heated argument with a Buddhist. This is not the set up to a clever joke, although it is pretty comical. It takes a certain type of person to fight with a pacifist. Apparently, I am that person.
The third trimester has made me somewhat of a philosophical insomniac, so forgive me if I lose the plot a little. It is 5:12am as I write this, and I have already been up over three hours. But, I can't stop thinking about this disagreement, and what we learned from it. And, what I can teach because of it.
Consider the concept of hope. To me, hope represents optimism for the future, and trust in the possibility that good will ultimately outshine evil. My friend stood to argue that hope was a derivative of fear. He then proceeded to explain how neither exist. This broke my brain or maybe my heart. It wasn't that I couldn't follow, it was that without hope, I cannot understand the point of existence. I do recognize truth in the opposition of the two, but prefer to think of it as an antithesis, rather than a byproduct. After all, there is a universally accepted duality in existence- light/dark, good/evil, happy/sad, hot/cold, life/death, you get it. The Chinese philosophy of yin yang is perceived by more than many to be the highest conceivable principle of existence. (If you want to read more about it- here is a link.)
I will say, I am somewhat sensitive about this topic. I pretty much consider it to be a personal calling to inspire hope in others. She is my beautiful, shiny muse. To argue that hope does not exist because it is a construct based solely on the existence of fear was enlightening and frightening for me. I never considered the nonexistence of hope before. There were two ways to go from this point of our discussion: accept what he was saying and agree, or accept what he was saying and disagree. I chose the latter.
Let me tell you what happened after our argument. Neither of us stormed off. We didn't end our friendship or insult one another. We sat down together, had a drink on the balcony, watched the sunset, talked about all sorts of things, and we continued to love one another.
It is kind of perfect that our argument was about hope. It zooms out well in our current political climate. This is what happens when fear tips the scale. Panic. The hateful rhetoric by both sides of this 2016 election has brought us to condemn and fear one another. And, I would even say a majority of us would consider it to be a grand misunderstanding of opposing philosophies.
What can we do before this bitterness escalates further? Before our lost relationships turn into lost homes and lives. Before someone draws a line, and tells the rest of us to pick a side. We can start by learning how to disagree again.
Our society is all equal parts of a body. Eyes cannot do what ears do, but we don't blind ourselves or cut off our ears because they serve different purposes. What good is an eye without a body anyway? What good is an ear by itself? That's a biblical reference, nobody go poking out your eyes. (It's 1 Corinthians 12:15-26ish, if you want to read it.)
Another thing we can do is unsubscribe from the hate and indifference of extremist media. Don't serve that master! Find humanity in every person you meet, remember and prioritize your compassion for others. The best part of this beautiful notion? It is grassroots, baby, and it starts with the individual.
Artists are going to paint, writers are going to write, comedians are going to make jokes. This is our purpose for one particular reason, to bring perspective for the future. In that way, I could never deny that hope exists, it's in my bones. I can, however, disagree respectfully, and continue to be a trumpet for peace. That is something my friend and I will always have in common.