There are many ways to think about a thing. We each have our ‘go to’ style and it is such an ingrained pattern within us that at some level we believe most ‘intelligent’ people’s brains work at least similarly, if not exactly the same, as our own. We expect that other people should ‘know’ our perspective and demand a baseline of tolerable behavior that sits just above our own personal triggers. Anyone who crosses those lines, accidentally or on purpose, will have touched our vulnerability in some way. It is how we react in that moment that reveals our own truth, but we rarely see things from that perspective. By that point, we have begun to feel ‘unsafe’ and a conflict has started stirring from within us, whether we realize it or not. The roots of this conflict generally trace back much farther than the current moment, but our egos, (simply doing their job) become solely concerned with protecting us from feeling pain in any form (rejection, jealousy, not good enough, unheard, unfair, etc.). This is the stuff that generates conflict, and it will spread like wildfire if it isn’t allowed the opportunity to connect at the soul level so that it can unearth a sense of balance and purpose in place of the energetic debris that can and will build up as dis-ease in our minds and bodies.
Much of our conflict stems from the expectations that we place on others. There are certain thoughts and behaviours that we deem unacceptable, based much more on our own concept and experience, than the actual law of the land. This is one of the places that we could easily shore up our collective thinking, given the opportunity for a balanced soul/ego perspective. In the early days of America, ‘everyone’ studied the law to the best of their abilities. The laws told us what we could and couldn’t do, and at 12 years old, several ‘men’ were already hard at the legal work of building up and/or tearing down what ‘we’ consider to be the minimum line of acceptability: publicly, privately, and socially. Their/Our ego energies were ramping up in a way that hadn’t been available to recent ancestors or anyone in modern times. They were facing the opportunity to create a country from the ground up. Every ‘man’ had an opinion that was rooted in his own perspective and experience.
An avalanche of ego fell upon us as we literally separated ourselves as being ‘better’ than what we had come from, while we were excluding the input of our vast ‘not men' population. Our ‘leaders’ were willing to risk everything to get on a boat and cross the Atlantic, and/or traverse the plains and the mountains, into barely charted territories. Since they were in natural competition for resources, they compromised themselves and the people around them, forsaking the soul energies and responsibilities they ideally sought. Sometimes I like to stop to consider the type of person who was willing to risk everything for passage, for various and often nefarious reasons. How did they compare (publically, privately and socially) to the contemporaries they left behind? Their character and intentions helped sow the seeds of our physical roots and set up our laws. At the same time, they turned a deaf ear to inner soul development. Their best efforts went toward remaining in the ‘circle of ego powers’ that has only recently (pandemic-era) begun to show signs of structural breakdown.
The ego/soul divide had expanded to the point where our definition of ‘everyone’ had become perceptually challenged, and until this very moment in time, that divide has only grown. These same types of ego conditions have occurred throughout history as we have built societies, but for this example, I’ll stick with discussing how the United States has become the literal personification of Ego Energies. The conflicted conversation about lawyers continues to this day, as many of us struggle to gain access to decent and affordable representation, even though we have 1.3 million lawyers in our country. Our laws have become so complicated (and in some cases outdated) that even the lawyers cannot agree on how to best interpret our laws. The kicker? They get paid to slant the law to the favor and interest of whomever is paying them to do so. We clearly have enough lawyers to review and revamp our outdated laws. The soul conflict resides in our collective responsibility to make the laws work for us, not against us, so we can share basic understanding. The ego conflict finds its roots in who foots the bill for the much-needed effort...
I love the United States and its inhabitants, despite our many ignorances. I love the intentions that I was taught to believe were at the foundation of our country when I was a child. I truly viewed us as the ‘helpers’ that we claimed to be, and I believed most of the words that were spoken by my teachers at school. For as much as society demanded ‘truth’ from me as a child, they weren’t offering it in my education, and we were not especially encouraged to see beyond the truth that was offered. Note to reader: Our truth was ‘proven’ by what showed up in the Encyclopedia; the internet was barely an ideal at that time. My own childhood, while fraught with lack and loss, was shielded from those conditions by the many joys that were brought by the people around me. My positive experiences shined brightly in front of the hard truths. No matter how challenging my life’s twists and turns were, I didn’t recognize them as difficulties until much later, and I am deeply grateful for the universal protection I was given. It allowed me the opportunity to know I was okay before having to evaluate whether or not I would be okay. Essentially, this taught me to trust that if I remove my own ego limitations, the necessary resources will show up to carry out my considered intentions. It is at the heart and root of everything I believe today.
I didn’t regularly attend church until I was 10, but from ages 10-20, we were active members at All Saints Episcopal Church. Currently, I pass by the empty property often. Watching the building and the grounds deteriorate with each season stirs up a few of my own internal conflicts, many of which date back to the time when that overgrown property was alive with energy. During those 10 years, I found myself both embracing and rejecting my religion at the same time. Personally, this was a big lesson in ignorance. It taught me a lot about how differently we each process information and experience the world. It was also one of my first encounters with accepting a thing as true until the natural course of my life showed me something different than what I was being taught to believe. This caring community embraced me in a way that I had never felt accepted, and I loved everything about it. The religious teachings that didn’t resonate for me? I created a metaphor to ‘explain’ them for myself. If these guys in the bible lived to be several hundred years old, surely we have missed a few facts in our interprepretations, right? By the time I was 20, I loved (and needed) my church community, but I was already looking for ways to make evolution and creation the same thing--just told from different perspectives. I would outgrow the framework of thinking that told me I needed Jesus to be connected to God as soon as I made the soul/ego connection that we are all part of the exact same energy, whatever you choose to call it.
My life has provided many opportunities to explore conflict, and I’m sure the same is true for each of us. We find ourselves navigating these waters with regularity, even though we spend a great deal of time ‘ignoring' in order to avoid’ tackling our conflicts head on. For me, I have a natural inclination to look at both sides of an issue, so it can be easy to accept my own limited scope as truth and reality. It is also easy to take a long look at someone else’s perspective to see how they got there, not necessarily to agree with them. My curiosity has led me to study other people with an objective eye and to apply wonder where I can’t find agreement. This allows acceptance, which is the first step to conflict resolution; allowing another point of view to be valid in its owner’s wholeness, even without common belief. Our own values inform our next moves by keeping us focused (or not) and determining how far into the conflict we are willing to put ourselves. Conflict is everywhere from our society, to our community, to our brains and our bodies. It helps us move stuck energies from the places we ‘hide’ them into the openness of wholeness where they can be absorbed and repurposed as we learn and grow. As we shift our ego energies to be more soulful in their expressions, we open up the space to let conflict do its intended purpose… keep our people and our laws moving freely without all the weight of the energetic debris that we leave when we abandon our opportunities to resolve conflict and expand our experiences.