How is your heart?
That's what we need to be asking each other. This simple act -- performed with genuine interest and willingness to mindfully listen -- has the power to change everything.
This one simple question can break the invisible walls between us. It opens a lens into our shared human narrative. It reveals a clear view of our common ground, and dissolves the artificial separation we've created by upholding an "us and them" society.
Husband. Wife. Parent. Child. Teacher. Student. Democrat. Republican. Christian. Muslim. Arab. Jew. Black. White.
We too easily polarize. Square off. Assume our defense postures.
There is no "them."
We are all us.
Each of us is rich with experience and vast in complexity. At the most essential level, we all yearn for similar things: safety, acceptance, love, fulfillment. But we are too easily intoxicated by the shiny objects that so effectively distract us from ourselves: the rat race, the trivial moments of fleeting entertainment, the promise of immediate gratification. We too often hide from each other in our little bubbles of distraction, then suffer the pain of isolation in private. As a result, so many among us struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction, rejection, self-hatred.
More often than not, these aren't pathological in and of themselves, but symptoms of a wider-spread pandemic: intimacy deficiency.
This is the pathology of our time.
This affliction plagues us in body and mind. It ripples though all Nine Petals of our lives; our homes, our communities, our countries. The implications are global.
The suffering of separation is not curable with pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.
The medicine we need is connection.
It doesn't have to be sticky or complicated or expensive. Anyone can administer the medicine of connection. It just takes a dose of mindful courage and the willingness to ask an honest question: How is your heart? If we can listen without judgement or expectation, a space of trust and vulnerability is created. The speaker feels safe and seen. The listener realizes they are not alone in harboring an ocean of feelings about life's joys and pains. We begin to see ourselves in each other.
Through presence and connection, the human heart can release its burdens. A sense of community emerges; one that is free of the us-and-them of culture, religion, race, sexual preference, etc. As separation breaks down, our basic sanity is restored -- the heart lightens -- and we begin to live together with a greater sense of awareness, cooperation and compassion.