Post-Election Advice: Love your enemy as your enemy

Over the past year my Facebook feed has been loaded with lots of partisan posts, and, because I disgaree with the political views of most of my Facebook friends, this generally irritated me.

Now that the election is over, I’m hoping we can move past this animosity and get back to normal.

But, I expect this is unrealistic and most people’s political views are too ingrained into their identities, so these animosities will never completely go away.

What I think is a more realistic solution is to become detached in the way Hinduism teaches you to be detached.

Hinduism teaches that the ego, (what we think of when we think of ourselves) hides from us a deeper reality, or brahman to which we all are a part of.

While you may identify as a Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or [insert political party here], this is just one aspect of an identity that is dependent on the existence of enemies.

Liberal parties cannot exist without conservative parties.

Labor unions can’t exist without a corporate management to fight.

Rebels can’t exist without conformists.

There are infinite examples in which an aspect of your identity is dependent on someone else’s opposing identity.

Once you realize this, you can learn to be grateful that you have enemies. While you will never stop fighting them, you will love them because you acknowledge you would be nothing without them.

Does it really take any considerable time or effort just to understand that you depend on enemies and outsiders to define yourself, and that without some opposition you would be lost? To see this is to acquire, almost instantly, the virtue of humor, and humor and self-righteousness are mutually exclusive.

Allan Watts

Indeed, self-righteousnes is perhaps one of the  most destructive spiritual sins that can inflict us. And in this post-election national mood in which you can be tempted to gloat to the losing party or write off the winning party as ignorant bigots, it is critical that we cultivate enough self-awareness to catch ourselves when we are becoming too attached to our ego and identity.

You do not have to admit the other side is right. You do not have to give up your fight against them. Just realize that you couldn’t exist without them.

They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart. Neither agitated by grief nor hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger. Established in meditation, they are truly wise. Fettered no more by selfish attachments, they are neither elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad. Such are the seers…

They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of “I,”“me,” and “mine” to be united with the Lord. This is the supreme state. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality.

-Bhagavad Gita