Out of our desire to better our lives, to protect and support our children, to overcome a sense of economic instability and fear, and to place our national economy on a firm foundation, we may choose values that create a means to an end whose qualities are lacking in love.
In this political season it is important to remember the values of the heart. All too often these values get replaced by other values and goals that seem more important so that the heart’s values become eclipsed. Yet, they are there beneath all the glamour of what may appear as visionary solutions to long-standing problems, and effective strategies that appear to make sense, but may not in the long run. Emotions of anxiety and frustration combined with our own mind’s uncertainty about what to do regarding the burdens we carry can attract us to those who display great confidence in areas where we are uncertain. They can allow us to eagerly look for strategies that seem effective in addressing our problems, while diminishing in importance the cost of such ‘effectiveness,’ the cost in human terms, the cost in terms of the values of the heart. In moments of uncertainty and doubt we may take comfort from solutions that offer us help for our troubles, while not noticing by what means this help is being offered and what its effect might be. Discernment is needed so that an inner voice speaks to us when the need for effective solutions diminishes the importance of love, when it diminishes our own heart’s truth.
What are the values of the heart:
- Humility — This can be eclipsed by the allure of self-confidence and the reassurance of one who ‘seems to know.’
- Kindness toward all — This can be replaced by the feeling, all to real for many, that we are threatened from a variety of directions, both economic and ideological, and that self-protection is the answer to such threat. Such an orientation can eliminate altogether the awareness that love has disappeared, that fear has taken its place, and that the values of inclusiveness that love proclaims and that America was founded upon have become a luxury rather than a necessity.
- Desire for peace and cooperation — A belief exists today among some that has deep roots within our society, namely, that competition, the traditional basis for a “free market economy,” is part of the ‘real’ world, and that cooperation with others as a foundational principle is fine as long as it does not limit individual freedom. Individual enterprise is greatly valued in this country as the means by which each person takes responsibility for creating their own lives. Yet, all too often the common good or efforts in sustaining and enhancing the ‘good of all’ is seen as undermining individual freedom. Where love has been eclipsed, the dichotomy between individual freedom and the needs of all can become the basis for extreme polarization, where the illusion is perpetuated that both cannot exist in harmony. This is a belief, not a truth. And yet when fear is present it can seem that in service to the needs of all, freedom can be in jeopardy, or visa versa.
- Love — The eclipse of love as a primary motive within the political arena is the single most important factor in understanding the level of discourse taking place today on the political stage. How we feel about this, how our hearts assess this and respond to this, determines who we listen to and which spokespersons we choose to follow. For if other values such as success, economic superiority, or individual freedom are deemed to only be possible at the expense of love, then we are vulnerable to an illusion that tells us that we must give up one to have the other. Out of our desire to better our lives, to protect and support our children, to overcome a sense of economic instability and fear, and to place our national economy on a firm foundation, we may choose values that create a means to an end whose qualities are lacking in love. That this is based on an illusion is often not evident, yet in subscribing to this belief, we may come to feel that love is only important after our other needs are met. This cannot be true, for in all cases the means by which we do things and the ends we seek to achieve are bound to each other. When we eliminate love from the equation, any equation, we create an outcome that is love-less, and pay a price that we may not have known we would have to pay.
Many of us are disillusioned. Many have struggled a long time with economic uncertainty. Many feel discouraged about the future, both because of economic decline, climate change, and the fear generated by terrorism both abroad and within our own country. As a result, we seek solutions to problems that seem to offer a way through or a way out, not remembering that the means and the ends are inextricably tied to each other. In this way, and based on our disillusionment with other means for moving forward, we create a future that will have new problems of its own. We forget that as individuals and as a nation, we must preserve the values of the heart that are part of our deepest being, or what we create in the long run will be flawed in its expression.