Welcome to the dysfunctional world of Washington

As I write this post, the US Government is still shut down and it’s not at all clear that come another day or two, the US Government will be able to borrow the money to pay its bills. From all of the news reports and all of the polls, I’m pretty clear that none of us are happy about this situation and, in fact, most of us are pretty disgusted and angry.

I think I understand the issues and I can understand, at some level, why this situation has occurred in the first place because the desires and positions of our two major political parties are diametrically opposed and seem unresolvable. So while I have no idea how this gets resolved, and I surely hope it does, I don’t want us to miss the opportunity for all of us to learn a profound lesson from this situation.

If you study the human condition, as I have for many years, you must start with the fundamental problem at the heart of all conflicts like these. That problem is the belief that we are separate from each other. While at first you might say “of course we’re separate from each other,” that’s not really true. The truth is that we are all fundamentally spiritual beings emanating from the same creative force. We are like the rays of the sun to the sun or a wave in the ocean to the ocean. Where does one sunbeam end and another start? Where does one wave end and another start?

Excuse me for being so philosophical but that is the reality. And the belief that we are separate from each other causes all of the mischief we see. Why? Because as soon as we believe, as we mostly all do, that we’re all separate beings, the world of the ego takes over. In fact, that is the world of the ego and the ego really takes this to extremes. In the world of the ego, and we all have one, not only are you separate from me, but you are the enemy!

If you don’t yet believe what I’m saying, just step back and look at what’s going on in Washington from this perspective. It’s really outright warfare. Each side is taking the position that the other is in the way of them getting what they want. What do you call that when another is in your way? Clearly they are the enemy.

And here’s the biggest consequence of all: from your perspective, you are right and the other person is wrong. Again, take a look at what’s going on. If people were being rational, they would say something like: I have my point of view, it’s not right or wrong, just my point of view, and you have your point of view, again it’s not right or wrong, it’s just your point of view, so let’s sit down and see what we can come up with that works for both of us.

But the problem is nobody seems to want to do that. Without getting into any taking of sides, both the President and the Democrats are firmly committed to the rightness of their point of view and the conservative wing of the Republican party is firmly committed to the rightness of their point of view and there we sit. And who suffers whenever something like this happens? Everyone!

But does the ego care about that? Absolutely not. In fact, the ego loves this kind of stuff and the power of the ego and its view of the world is beautifully on display for all to see. As you’ve heard me say before, you can either be right or you can be happy. The ego is always committed to being right, even though there is no possibility of happiness. And so we all sit here and suffer while this truly bizarre situation plays out in Washington. It’s an embarrassment that will take time for any of us to get over.

But if we are to learn from this, here’s the question I want to leave you with. Where are you doing this in your own life? Where are you doing this in your personal life, with your friends and family, and in your business life, with your employer, employees, co-workers, vendors, suppliers and customers. There’s probably not much that you and I can do to resolve the situation in Washington but there’s a ton of things you and I can do to resolve situations like this in our own lives.

Look at every aspect of your life and ask: am I choosing to be right or am I choosing to be happy? Am I trying to play win/win or am I choosing to play win/lose? Am I allowing the fear based voice of the ego to dominate my thinking or am I choosing to come from love? These are profound questions that I hope you ask yourself every day. I know that I do.