Division is a seduction

A sign in a window reads, "NOT OPEN" in large letters, in small letters in between it reads, CLOSED

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I am a divider.

Not on purpose, and not because I want to break people apart. It’s just the opposite. My sovereign purpose is to inspire undivided lives.

In spite of that, since I am human, a significant part of my default system dictates I divide.

Given the overriding contentiousness of this current time, I find myself falling, again and again into division and divisiveness.

I do it every day. When waiting at a stoplight and looking at political signs, I invariably find myself thinking, “Oh, I’m not voting for him!” When viewing bumper stickers, I decide whether or not the person might be a friend or foe. It’s so silly.

We divide in more subtle ways as well.

As we scroll through social media, dulling our sense of ourselves and our purpose with each pointer finger flick, we peek in on other people’s lives. We gawk at their successes, family gatherings, brilliant ideas, relationships, lovely clothes and hair, and bodies.

We divide ourselves – within ourselves — by comparing. These are self-inflicted, voluntary wounds.

I do my best to avoid too much time on social media (thanks to a detox I did two years ago, more on that here), but I get sucked in to the occasional scroll like most people.

When I do, the more I scroll, the more I lose my sense of self.

The more I scroll, the more I lose my sense of self.

The more I scroll, seeing more and the beautiful images and tantalizing tidbits of information accompanying them amount, and I slip under them, into them, and away. When I regain myself in some small measure, I discover myself with nearly unconscious thought lines chiming, “I wish I had done something fun this weekend” or “look how sweet their relationship is” or “if only I had applied myself more I could have been that successful/thin/muscly/active/creative/take-your-pick.”

These divisions I am making I am using as weapons against my own validity.

Years ago I worked with a human behavioral research company using fMRIs to validate their self-reporting assessments. One of the major findings of this research was that the brain is highly efficient at knowing what it likes to avoid rather than what it espouses. This couples powerfully with our knowledge that our brains make decisions not in the rational center, but in the emotional and visual center. Decisions are then justified by the rational brain.

So when emotions get piqued, we decide. These decisions are usually based on avoidance, on committing again to what we don’t like, don’t want, don’t appreciate (ie my “Oh, I’m not voting for him!” reaction to the political signs).

What’s particularly insidious about these times is the way these everyday thoughts have been amplified, reverberated against the hard cold walls some suggest we build against one another. The everyday thought, “Oh, I’m not voting for him” has downstreamed into, “He is my enemy. I could never be friendly/kind/open to him,” into “He is nothing like me. There is no common ground.”

And that is the greatest danger of all.

Whatever our beliefs, whatever our political leanings or convictions, we are being called – all evidence to the contrary – to hold to our common humanity.

Division is a seduction.

Division is a seduction into the idea we exist separate from one another.

It’s seduction into the idea that my group or my tribe can do this alone or can impose my beliefs on another.

It’s a seduction into victimhood, into conflict and war and into greater depravity.

We are the ugly other side.

We carry the same DNA as those we oppose.

And we create it ourselves, and post it ourselves and consume it ourselves.

And it exists most pronouncedly in the six inches between our ears.