Facebook reminded me that eight years today, I had the opportunity to experience something truly profound. His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama visited San Diego and did three public talks. I got to see the one at University of San Diego and the theme was something even more pertinent now than that day: “World peace must develop from inner peace.” That’s a concept I truly believe and one of many motivating factors in developing my own mindfulness and meditation practices.

During a Q&A at the end, someone asked His Holiness what his greatest challenge was. His response: he was afraid of losing compassion for the Chinese Communists that had driven him into exile, persecuted his people, and continue to deny his legitimacy. Stop and think about that for a second… Could you do that?

I bring that up because concepts like forgiveness, letting go, and compassion are states of consciousness that I aspire to and work on in my own spiritual practice. CAN I maintain compassion for those whose beliefs and actions are not only philosophically opposed to me, but who might be taking actions (or inaction) that contribute to things that I think are important to the future of our country, our society, or the entire planet? That can apply to many issues at hand right now.

And the opportunity to practice will only grow. Given the gravity of our current situation dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, I see an even larger battle brewing in our county in the weeks and months ahead. It will be a debate — and then actions taken arising from that debate, between those those who believe the greater good is best served by Way #1 vs. those who believe that future is better served by Way #2 (insert your own description for #1 and #2). We got a preview the other day in Michigan of what might happen.

To bring it all home, I had a conversation today with a close family member who fervently disagrees with my own conclusions about the path ahead and where I land on the spectrum of 1 vs. 2. And I know that’s the sort of challenging conversations (and decisions/actions that come from those conclusions) that lie ahead for all of us.

Given those philosophical divides and with large numbers of lives and livelihoods at stake, CAN I actually develop an understanding of and maintain compassion for those who see it all differently than me??? That’s why it’s called practice…