On a recent van camping trip where we racked up over 5000 miles seeing the beautiful west coast of the USA we passed several runaway truck ramps. Most of these were on steep downhill grades where heavy machinery could suffer from overheated brakes or loss of power. They are engineered to slow a fast moving heavy vehicle by diverting them onto an uphill grade with several inches of gravel and often a berm at the end. There was one however, that seemed to counter all laws of physics and safety in this arena. We were at first a little shocked and then helplessly laughing at the absurdity of this ramp’s design. Not only was it slanted downhill, but it had a mere 3 barrels at the end of it after which it dropped off over a precipitous cliff. Jim said it had to be a ramp designed by the roadrunner for Wiley Coyote!
In the cartoon world, this struck us as hilarious, but in reality we couldn’t help thinking of the tragedy that could follow. And then in my mind it became a metaphor of what could happen if we follow leaders that continually overheat and don’t know when to apply the brakes. Eventually we’ll run off the precipice.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
In the current political leadership model what seems to be missing to me is empathy for those who are not in positions of privilege and power or for those of differing view points. I’m not a politician and have no aspirations in that direction, but I can in my own way begin to build a new model. The tools of yoga have been invaluable to me in maintaining equanimity under conflict situations.
Recently a woman literally screamed in my ear when I (very respectfully) asked her if she would share why she held a certain belief. She was then joined by some of her cohorts and I found myself surrounded by 4 angry screaming people. I knew at that point that there would be no reasonable discussion and walked away, I was very pleasantly surprised that my own heart did not race, I did not lash out, nor did I feel much more than, if not compassion, sorrow for the hellish state of their minds in that moment.
Anita Moorjani, author of What if This is Heaven, and great philosophers from all religious backgrounds, proclaim that heaven and hell are states of mind and of being. When anger, rage, hatred take over one is in hell. Compassion, understanding, empathy and peace of mind are heavenly and the new model of reality that will make the other obsolete.