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Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder currently works with POZitively Connected, a project of Vancouver Island Persons Living with HIV AIDS Society. Positively Connected provides social connection and support to gay/bi men living with HIV. He has previously sat on the board of directors of the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), and has been involved in the HIV/AIDS movement since 1987. He worked with CAS in development and writing of the One Foot Forward Series of self training modules for people living with HIV and other work. Michael is always available for writing work, workshop development/presentation as well as public speaking.

Michael's social media connections are @michaely1961 on twitter and on Facebook here.

Jul21

Us and them

Friday, 21 July 2017 Written by // Michael Yoder Categories // Social Media, Aging, Gay Men, Current Affairs, Mental Health, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Media, Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder: "Unfortunately, we're all too human and we're all too convinced that we are separate from each other and everything else in the Universe."

Us and them

"If you understand, things are just as they are... If you do not understand, things are just as they are..."  Anonymous

Something's been bothering me for a while now and I wanted to write about it, but couldn't put my finger on it until just the other day. What's been bothering me is how factions are appearing everywhere - Black Lives Matter, U=U, Politics and Pride parades, anger at just about everything and separation from each other.

My little "aha" moment was that all this is about duality - that we believe we are not connected to each other and everything else. That division allows for me to be separate from you, us from them and so on. In Zen, non-duality says that nothing is separate from anything; that the chair I'm sitting on is as much me as I am the chair, that the feelings and thoughts I have are only my construction of the Universe - they are not the Universe itself.

"Anger doesn't create anything; it's a secondary response to a primary emotion - fear, hurt or inadequacy."

This is not to say that people don't have experiences of the world and that these experiences are not pleasant ones. But the people having the experiences are constructing their own meaning of the experience - the experience itself is only an experience, neither good nor bad, until meaning is placed on it.

I think everyone wants to feel belonging and to be understood. And there's the rub...I can only understand you through my experience of the world. That's duality - separation and it's very human. And when someone is angry and starts beating me over the head with a stick, I'm not likely to hear the message: I'm only going to notice that my head hurts. Anger doesn't create anything; it's a secondary response to a primary emotion - fear, hurt or inadequacy. So, when I feel anger, I need to look at the basis for the anger and explore that feeling. It serves no purpose for me to be angry back - that's just gas on a fire.

I wonder if we stepped back and observed what was going on, from a place of mindfulness, that we might see issues from a different understanding. We might see that the experience is just the experience and our response would be different than simply reacting. Perhaps then we could start to really hear what someone has to say - that their suffering is authentic and that I am connected to it, or that my joy is authentic and the other person shares it equally.

Unfortunately, we're all too human and we're all too convinced that we are separate from each other and everything else in the Universe. We'll continue to be angry and to not listen or understand each other. We'll continue to war with each other and take what we want rather than giving what another needs.

And things are just as they are...

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