I visit the neighborhood playground at least twice a week to do pullups and on my daily walks. What I often find is trash strewn about the playground. Empty bottles, tops removed. Styrofoam with half eaten chicken. Junk food wrappers. Plastic bags wind wrapped around metal playground poles. A mess!

At first, my reaction each time has been somewhere in the vicinity of, “these trashy people”, “these people have no respect”, “didn’t their mother teach them better”, “this is why we cant have nice things”, etc…JUDGEMENT!

Here I am on my high horse, picking up the playground and patting myself on the back for being so pious. As I pick up the trash I devote the action to Gaia and feel the satisfaction of my actions affirming life. A difference is apparent. Between my righteous actions and the actions of these disrespectful people.

Questions emerge. Do these humans really know better? If they didn’t, then how can they be blamed? If they did, and littered anyway, isn’t there some other distortion guiding their action? What if this is just the level if consciousness that they’re at?

What if there’s no action or person to judge? Can I see in their actions myself? Yes. I’m no saint. I’ve littered. Been careless. Know what it’s like to assume in youthful arrogance that my mess is someone else’s problem.

Then an evolution in perception occurs. The difference between us shrinks. All of the sudden, there is no “they”. I see me, what I’m capable of. What I have the choice to do or not do. I see that a person’s actions are the outward manifestation of their level of consciousness. There can be no other way.

All the grotesque and vile behavior, from my judgement, just is. It’s where the person is at. If these people felt connection with Gaia, symbiosis with the ecosystem, understood the complexity of our systems and the small role their actions, perhaps they would make a different choice. But they don’t. Clearly.

The evolution of consciousness happens in it’s own time and space. Conscientiousness blooms differently for us all, or never. And that’s okay. I see my option is to either accept you as you are. Or judge you from my high horse named Hubris’ Folly.

Compassion forms. I remember when I operated from that level. “It’s someone else’s problem.” I remember not being accountable for my actions. Even if you cant, can you relate to the possibility of that being true within yourself?

A line from the bible that has resonated recently is Luke 23:24 “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There’s no way you can really know what you’re doing that is against another (which is ultimately against the self), and still do it. When you get it, *feel it*, in your heart, and emanate this level of understanding, your action changes. Being preceded doing.

Smiles. I smile much more often now. I see things that stick out to me. Conspicuous consumption. Behaviors meant to convey an image. Many more cigarette smokers in Lansing. I judge not.

One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And I’ve always taken it to mean, don’t compare myself with those who I perceive to be more successful, attractive, wealthy, blah, blah, blah than me. It works the other way too. Comparison requires a difference. When I look and judge myself to be at a higher level of consciousness because I pick up the trash that others leave, I am affirming theres a difference between us. It is not so.

On one level, of course there is a difference. Our physical actions, presumably our attitudes and beliefs. Yet I see in others myself, my human possibility to have been or be, now or in the future, existing at their level of consciousness from which flows actions that I now choose not to judge.

Joy comes from seeing others as they are, how they show up and through their actions, and accepting them wherever they’re at. Full acceptance of self cannot occur without the acceptance of the other. This includes racists and corrupt politicians.

I’ve watched with great interest over the last weeks the polarity between the BLM movement and those opposed to its ideals. It’s a wide chasm between the two with many different viewpoints on all sides. I recently watched the video of the “attempted lyching” in which white people are restricting a sovereign being’s free will and using disgusting language against another. Its abhorrent to life, and thus ourselves, to treat another like this.

Do I blame these perpetrators? No. Do I see them as victims themselves? Maybe (though victimhood is a whole separate conversation in itself). Are they the product of cultural or familial programming installed and imprinted during childhood? Maybe. Do I see that their actions emerge from the level of their consciousness? Yes. Can I see that in the range of all possibilities, every human is capable of those despicable actions (even Mother Theresa a woman universally regarded as a recent living saint)? Yes. It is possible. Can I see how those that occupy the patterns of fear, Xenophobia, or racism “know not what they do”? Yes.

This doesn’t mean I condone any of this. Just that when I look, I accept that this is where they’re at. They can be in no other state of being, until they are. It’s where we’re at. It’s where I’m at, seeing myself as part of the collective, which highlights the necessity for us all to do the personal and inner work, first and foremost.

The more we resist each other, the greater the energy we feed into the conflict. The more we affirm difference. THOSE people…are me. Human beings traversing a calamitous and confusing world offering our souls the opportunity to learn important lessons. These lessons are the evolution of self-awareness itself moving towards high complexity.

As we evolve, we begin to both individuate at the same time we realize the lack of fundamental distinction between “out there” and “in here”. Those whose awareness has not expanded beyond their service to themselves are easily capable of trashing a playground or hating another for their skin pigmentation. Those whose awareness includes empathy and service to others are capable of picking up the trash or rooting out racism. Neither is “better”. That’s the value judgement.

We are all somewhere on the spectrum of awareness, and our personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions reflect our current stage of development.

This understanding is crucial to our healing right now. The rift between US vs THEM continues to grow and its fueled by judgement about the other. As long as we see them, we are incapable of transcending our own limitations. For those who prescribe to either political ideology, we must look upon the other not as the opposing force who trashes the playground but/and as humans who embody 1the possibility inherent within ourselves.

Those on the left must look within themselves to understand their own desires for individual freedom. Those on the right must look within themselves to understand their own desires to serve the common good and all in society. I see in me, you! I see in you, me! The Hermetic philosophy calls this the Law of Correspondence. As within, so without. As without, so within.

The ability to hold differing and conflicting perspectives in mind, to embody opposite polarities, is a specific practice that yields acceptance and an understanding of the other as self. On any issue that you believe (or even any idea, emotion, etc…), hold it in mind at the same time as honestly exploring the merits of the “opposing” viewpoint. Neither is right. Merely different. And in that difference, we can come to know ourselves.

Perhaps most importantly, I fear not. While it is very easy to look at our world right now, from any ideological perch, and see plenty of reasons for despair in our division, fragmentation, hatred, etc…what I know is that evolution is occurring. We are at a point in which the separation from ourselves, through extreme separation from others, is climaxing. This too is our lesson. Difference is at its max; its lesson being that any perceived difference is really separation from self.

To be clear, I am not a black man. Nor a white supremacist. Both of these people are of course physically different in the third dimension of length, width, height, and solid matter. Yet in their essence, I see the black struggle as my struggle. I see the white supremacist as coming from a level of consciousness that I’ve never been at AND whose evolution is my story, and all of our story.

Just as I once carelessly littered as a teenager and have evolved to a deeper level of understanding, so too can we all heal and evolve. There isn’t any other way.

So keep doing you. I accept you.

If you litter, I will not judge you. I’ll hold open the possibility of you evolving. I pick up the trash, and look within myself to better know the litterer.

If you are racist, I will not judge you. I’ll hold open the possibility of you evolving. I’ll stand in solidarity with my black brothers and sisters, and look within myself to better know the racist.

Healing — and unification — is an inside job.