Why are we so divided today?

Here is one thing we seem to all agree on these days. We all disagree.

A lot!

Our disagreements divide us to the point where it feels at times like we’re at war against each other. In our world, our continents, our nations, our states and provinces, on down the line into local communities, and even our families and marriages. And I don’t sense many voices speaking out with actual words of hope for reconciliation and unity.

I’ll try using my own voice here for such. I’ll try hoping for hope to happen. I’ll try. All I can do.

I believe we are divided so publicly because we are divided so privately.  So privately that we’re not even aware of it.   We all are prone to division within our own minds as we work at making decisions based on conflicted information from within our own bodies and souls. 

Let me try and explain.

I’m no literalist where the two biblical creation stories of Genesis are concerned, but I do at least believe there really is a sense in which God has created humanity in God’s own image. Those who’ve known me as their pastor probably know that per my own faith that means we, like God, have a body, mind, and soul. Three in one, if you will.

There is little hope for any helplessly divided society until we find help in resolving the mental divide within ourselves.  Our minds hear one thing from our bodies. And sometimes, but certainly not always, something different from our souls. Our minds are left to decide then upon such occasions between two conflicted sources of information. Supposing our mind cries fake while our soul cries fact, or vice versa.   Then our minds may experience a kind of helpless division struggling to test and then adapt to reality. This internal struggle becomes externalized and projected outward to our society. But this war of unresolved division first breaks in before it breaks out.

At times our minds seem broken between right and left brain thinking. Abstract vs. concrete, spacial vs. temporal, and such. Plenty has been researched or at least speculated and written about that. A few decades ago, learning to think with both sides of our brain was in vogue.  Building these neural pathways left and right may have been a great idea, but I don’t in my own right brain see it solving the mental problem I’m referencing here.

The divisive war within which seems to threatens our society the most today is the unresolved conflict between fear and love. Again, this war seems to start inside ourselves and then project outward from our own minds through the choices we made that lead to broader consequences for others as well as self.

It’s as though the mind hears about fear from the world through our bodily sensations and emotions located toward the bottom of our brain even as it hears about love from heaven through our soul or spiritual receptor located (I’m only speculating) toward the top of our brain. (Full disclaimer: I’m no neuro-scientist, but if I’m using my own right brain in partnership with left, I can at least hypothesize as well as the next person.)

Without an open neuro-pathway between bottom and top of our brains, I’m still speculating, I see the likelihood that we can become stuck or incapacitated in our decision-making, helplessly divided between the forces of fear and the forces of love, or what I’m also calling the division between earth (which some people experience as hell when under extreme stress) and heaven. Caught in the middle. Our minds between body and soul.   Or when in extreme conflict upon occasion, between hell and heaven.

I wonder if we’re not privately, and therefore publicly, conflicted between the world that drives us to fear and heaven that draws us to love. On the one hand, fear informs our decision by desiring control over others, proving “us” right and “them” wrong, and so we react in this way. Some neuro-experts would probably call this the stress-reaction of fight or flight. Control is the objective in reaction against an out-of-control world driving us to fear.    Stress cries out for us to take control or else!!!

That’s the world’s side of this equation as expressed through our bodies into the minds that then must direct our bodily or behavioral response.   Our mind’s decision , on that hand, may be some fight or flight in order to achieve control over the feared “other” in our lives.

But on the other hand.

Heaven’s voice is never silent.

God has many different ways of getting our attention as expressed through our souls into our minds that then may redirect our bodily or behavioral response to actually solve our problems. However, God’s solution is never about fearful control. Rather, it’s about loving influence. Notice I say “may redirect our bodily or behavioral response” to solve problems. Love influences, offers options, better options. Love doesn’t control. Hence, we are free in our minds (what some label “free will”) to act out our fear or our love.   

Here’s a point to consider within the mix. The world’s voice is not always driving us to fear. Nor always in conflict with God’s heavenly voice, whether that comes to us through the Christ of history or the Holy Spirit now within our souls. When there seems in our bodies to be little to fear in the world, we’re not so divided or conflicted within ourselves. So there’s much less of an internal war to project onto our society. But these days our fear and stress level is up pretty high. Our bodily nervous system and emotional alarm is amped way up there. Hence, there is a circular system at work where the outer war of divisions in the world create this inner war within our minds, which then projects outward to create a still greater war of division outside ourselves.

But what if?

What if instead of feeling helpless as individuals to create any peace in the world of warring divisions between people, we could find hope first within ourselves?  What if there were actually a way for our minds to open an up and down neuro-pathway and to facilitate a dialogue between love and fear, soul and body, heaven and earth within ourselves?  Such that we could bring about a meaningful conversation to resolve the conflicts within ourselves, those that occur between our own body and soul?

Would you be willing to try it out?   

To first heal the division between ourselves as a means toward then healing the divisions in society, I would suggest the following exercise. Write a letter, or send a message in whatever form you’re most comfortable communicating, from your body to your soul.  May be an email, or even a Facebook post to only yourself.   Something larger than a text or even private message.     Imagine giving voice to your body in this post or letter, directing it to your soul.  Vent every fear and frustration your body can possibly identify that is now coming out of your world.

With me so far?

If you’ve gotten that down, then your mind can take the next step of allowing your soul to write a reply, in whatever form your body is again most accustomed to.       Only this reply is to voice only the words for love that might influence the world around you rather than controlling it.   Write to your body as if you were speaking for the God of your understanding.   Use whatever love language your soul might have available to share with your body, but this must be only about love in response to your body’s fear.

That will probably not be enough.

Your body will probably need to post another comment or set of comments as if to control even the soul and voice its fear of love, its every doubt. And, in response, your soul will probably want to post another set of comments as if to influence the body and voice its own faith in love, its faith that loving influence really will outlast fearful control and win out in the end.

Mentally, we are tasked with managing this internal divide that conflicts us. Our bodies will always seek to control our minds even as our souls seek to influence them in return. Some of us will resolve this inner tension by siding only with our bodies and against our souls. Others will listen obediently to our souls as if to deny our bodies any right to even feel afraid.  When we do the latter, we become so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly good to anyone. By shutting off our own human emotions, we lose the capacity for empathy with others here on earth. So how we manage this private divide within ourselves will impact our choices in ways that then cause often unintended consequences for others. We end up loving our neighbor only as well as we are able to love ourselves.

So maybe consider this question today, in private if not publicly. Am I divided in ways that cause my decisions to be more difficult than necessary and more mistaken than desired? Am I willing to get a conversation going between my own conflicted voices of information, my own sources of love and fear, and work toward some better consensus before making my own private decisions wherever I sense inner tension or conflict?

Perhaps when we resolve our own private division in mind between our conflicted body and soul, bringing them into common agreement somehow, then we’ll be ready to move toward healing the divisions within our general society and world around us today.





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