I’ve said in the past that abortion is not an issue in which I invest my precious time and energy. I mean, Roe was decided when I was in junior high school, its efficacy as the best way to secure the right to safe and legal reproductive health care for pregnant people has been questioned ever since, codifying it has not happened, it has otherwise been under political seige for 50 years, and the beat goes on. I’ve just been perpetually hard-pressed to believe the issue has ever truly been about abortion itself and I am confident saying that last week’s decision is not about abortion even a little bit.
Yet it makes sense that we would be where we are with it right now in terms of the decimation of women’s rights. It also makes sense that we are where we are with the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically with the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people, with the wild disparities in who gets high quality health care and who does not, with our broken immigration system, with racism — systemic and otherwise, and with the persecution of religious minorities in our country. It makes sense because we are living at the effect of the old consciousness, a consciousness steeped in judgment, steeped in conflict, steeped in force, steeped in separation, steeped in winners and losers, steeped in patriarchy. It’s a consciousness that says it is acceptable to act at the expense of other human beings; a consciousness that says it is acceptable to disregard their profound pain and suffering. I remind you it is also a consciousness that is in its death throes.
Overturning Roe comes at the expense of women, half our population, and their right to body autonomy and privacy. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation comes at the expense of people who are being told their very existence is wrong. Racism comes at the expense of Native, Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other non-White Americans who are told they’re not as good as. Homelessness comes at the expense of people who have no resources to advocate for themselves. For-profit health care comes at the expense of no- and low-income Americans, too many of whom are in medical debt. A broken immigration system comes at the expense of people and families who, in so many ways, are seeking refuge and the opportunity to live full and meaningful lives, otherwise unavailable to or taken from them. All of it comes at the expense of our country and all of it is at the hands of an aggressive minority of Americans who embody the old consciousness and who are overrepresented in government at the federal and state levels.
This debate is valid in its way but it’s also the same old thing. And with the urgency and opportunity of this year’s midterm elections upon us, it feels woefully anemic.
As conscious politics practitioners, we know that problems are created by deficits of consciousness and solved with infusions of consciousness. These issues exist because of a massive deficit — across the board — of compassion. It is the absence of compassion that has created man’s inhumanity to man, people dehumanizing other people, humans killing humans, citizens taking up arms against fellow citizens, men abusing women — for millennia. The dying consciousness that undergirds it all — right up to and including what we see happening on our political landscape today, these days — will not change. It wants nothing to do with making room at the table for everyone. It is not interested in multiculturalism or gender or racial equity — and it’s not going to be. Turns out, it’s not even interested in democracy as we have understood ours to be, the one we keep attempting to perfect by extending rights and freedoms to everyone, once and for all. It’s gobsmacking and eye-popping. It’s beyond the pale. It’s inhuman. And fighting it is futile.
Compassion is the name of the game in the new consciousness. It is the linchpin. Compassion means accommodating everyone. It’s the opposite of judgment. Chelsea Handler, in a brief clip I heard from, I believe, a new show she has on Netflix, said: “I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I am.” In my line of work, I hear a lot of that and she likely speaks for millions. I don’t have a show on Netflix, but I have repeatedly said: “To be conscious is to cultivate compassion and relinquish judgment again and again and again ad nauseam.” So until we place the judgments we make about others who wear the wrong clothes or eat the wrong foods or choose the wrong boyfriends on the exact same continuum as the judgments that Governor DeSantis of Florida makes about the LGBTQ+ community or the ones Justice Samuel Alito and his cohorts make about women or the ones Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell makes about what is and isn’t important to the American people, we are simply feeding the beast we abhor.
More broadly, I see that, in the wake of overturning Roe, Democrats and abortion rights activists are debating how best to talk about abortion. Insist on establishing the right to abortion as inviolable and absolute, delivering autonomy and equal rights to women and pregnant people once and for all? Work incrementally? Compromise? This debate is valid in its way but it’s also the same old thing. And with the urgency and opportunity of this year’s midterm elections upon us, it feels woefully anemic.
Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson, if we want something we’ve never had, we must do something we’ve never done. How about every single one of these constituencies and every single one of their allies — a majority of Americans — linking arms into a political coalition the likes of which we’ve never seen? How about creating a “compassion campaign” to permeate the midterms, prosecuting the overarching case for completing the project of creating a society that works for everyone — once and for all? How about “doing the hard work” of transforming our fighting ways into the work of releasing judgment every step of the way because that’s how we cultivate compassion? It’s certainly something we’ve never done, which might just deliver that thing we’ve never had.
NOTE: July’s Conscious Politics Free Monthly Training will take place on Tuesday, July 19 from 5:00-6:30pm Pacific / 8:00-9:30pm Eastern — and whatever that translates to where you are. It’s this newsletter come to life where we talk about what you want to talk about. I hope you’ll attend.