Earlier this year, a man who played professional football with the NFL for a few years came to sit with us at InsightLA. As we talked, he described how he gave his all to the game. Like some other players, he chose to use the power of his visibility as a pro athlete to call attention to racial injustice. But then, he and the other teammates who had been ‘taking a knee’ during the national anthem were required to stay in the locker room while it played. As a meditator, he chose to follow his values and his heart. He retired.
However we may feel about a controversial issue, can we practice being present and listen to someone who completely disagrees? Can we hang in there with each other, and learn what goes into our conflicts? Studies have shown that mindfulness and compassion practices can reduce implicit bias which increasingly divides and polarizes us. Too often these days, I hear “I can’t stand to talk with my sister/brother/parents/relatives/co-workers about anything to do with politics!” How can we solve the many challenges facing us without listening to each other, without civil political dialogue and respectful conversation?
Recently, a Texan candidate named Beto O’Rourke was asked by a veteran if he thought players’ taking a knee was disrespectful. Beto welcomed the question. He saw it as a chance to discuss a contentious subject in a direct, empathic way, informed by his willingness to understand some historical reasons and precedents for the silent, non-violent, passionate protests. You can watch the video HERE. See what you think – and feel free to let us know.