It seems impossible to go anywhere these days without running into a debate: debates about immigration, debates about police brutality, debates about what is causing the next natural disaster, debates about kneeling or not kneeling during the national anthem. The list goes on and on.
It seems like everybody is trying to be right, or is trying to convince others that they are wrong. It also appears that both sides think they are right. This is very important because their reasons for their supposed rightness can be very interesting. On the political spectrum, I see both sides boasting that they are more compassionate or more kind than the other. To find the difference between the two sides we must ask, “to whom are they compassionate?” We can get into trouble here. Starting to separate who we love, who we choose to protect and care for, and whose rights we choose to fight for from whose we don’t, can be a slippery slope.
My simple answer to “who is right?” is this: Whoever has the widest circle of love is right. This has to be in both intention and in action.
What is right, is right for the largest number of people. If your intention is to do what is right for the largest number of people and beings, then you are right. If your intention is to do what is right for a select number of beings, then you are not as right. And if your intention is to do what it is right for a very small portion of people, then you are even less right.
The keys are threefold: first is intention. The second key is to understand what love is. The last piece is ACTION. Not only are love and intention not enough; if someone is not acting in ways that are promoting altruism, they are just blowing smoke.
The definition that I use for love in this case is simply “to wish self and others to be happy”. We can add in compassion, which is “the wish for self and others not to suffer”. If we can authentically feel within ourselves that our intention is for the greater benefit of all beings, and we allow that to influence our thoughts, words and actions, then we know what we are doing is right. If, on the other hand, we are only looking out for ourselves or for a select portion of people, then we need to reevaluate our intention.
Sometimes, when I see a battle on social media, I wonder if anyone even cares for the greater good or if they just want to be right. Being right does not mean anything if it is not joined with the intention for others to be happy and free from suffering. Being right, in and of itself, does not get us anywhere. Only with the sincere desire to care for others do we actually act accordingly. We must also be wary of others who say they are for the well-being of others yet act contrarily.
In every civilization, in every country, and in every person there are tough decisions to be made. Decisions that will exclude others. Decisions that will force us into division. It is when making those decisions that we need to be fearlessly honest with ourselves: What is our true intention? Does that intention include all beings? If not, where does our circle of love end? Who, exactly, is on the outside of that circle? What separates them? What makes them unworthy? What makes others worthy and included in our circle?
It takes courage to honestly answer these questions. To be right we must first be willing to be wrong. If we lack the courage to be wrong, then we can never be honest with ourselves. Without being honest with ourselves we will have a very hard time aligning with an authentic intention.
The ultimate debate lives within each and every one of us: Did we live with love today or not? That’s it. The greater that love is—the more people that it includes—the greater the contentment and happiness that we can feel as human beings. If more and more of us live in that truth—of a wide and all-encompassing heart—then our world can heal and grow together instead of apart.