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The State of Polarization – Is Humanity Screwed Beyond Hope?



"Why is there so much divisiveness and disunity between people and countries? What's going to happen?"


The person asked these questions while watching the news to catch up on current events. She saw the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, the sharpening of political divides, and the demonizing and “otherizing” of entire groups of people because they are from another country or culture.


Of course, such polarization is not everywhere and does not include everyone. However, due to the internet, information travels faster than ever, so divisions are more noticeable. Since we're predisposed to evolving individually and collectively, we want to recognize what happens in our world. Moreover, we are inherently interrelated and affected indirectly, if not directly.


While there is no immediate solution to our challenges, we must live from spiritual values to continue evolving. Presently, I am writing a book on why we're polarized and how only a revolution of values can fix our cultural, economic, and racial divides.


During my research, I came across an interview with a man whose experience reflects one value that can help us move toward a solution for division and the “us vs. them” mentality. That solution is the spiritual value of giving.


The man won $900,000 in Las Vegas. Afterward, he went to a diner to eat a late breakfast. The diner was casual and frequented by many locals looking for an inexpensive meal.


The man who had won the windfall of money overheard one of the servers talking to a colleague about the hard times she was going through. The waitress shared with her co-worker that her husband had suddenly left her, taken all the money out of their joint bank account, and left her to take care of her three kids alone.


The waitress ended up tending the man's table. After placing his order and receiving his meal, the man asked the waitress to sit at the table. The gentleman told the waitress he overheard her predicament and said, "I can help you. I have a lot of money and have won a lot here in Las Vegas. I want to offer you some money."


The waitress was suspicious of the man. She was in Las Vegas and familiar with scam artists who preyed on innocent souls. But with nothing to lose, the waitress asked, "Okay, what must I do?" The man responded that she didn't have to do anything terrible. She only had to answer a few questions, like a trivia game, and she would get the money like she was on a game show. That way, he said, the waitress could see she was earning the money, and it wasn’t mere charity. The waitress agreed.


The gentleman asked the waitress a series of straightforward questions for her to answer. The questions were like: What is the color of the sky? What was the city they were in? What is the state they were in? What is five plus 5? And so forth. Each time the waitress answered a question, the man gave her a crisp $100 bill.


At first, the waitress was reluctant to take the money. But the man explained that he already had a lot of money and had won over $900,000 the night before. He and his wife were generous, compassionate people who liked to help people.


At the end of their encounter, the waitress received $10,000. The man finished his meal and went on his merry way, expecting nothing in return.


But the man did get something - the good feeling of having helped a stranger, a waitress going through a rough patch, in a way she never imagined as she started her day.


Most people will agree that giving helps those who receive it. But what people often overlook is how giving improves the giver's well-being and is a reward in and of itself.


Scientific studies have shown that the act of giving and receiving activates the part of the brain related to pleasure and reward. The research shows that the mere act of giving makes us feel better. In one study summarized by Associate Professor Jessica Andrews-Hanna from the College of Science, brain imaging results confirm that both the giver and receiver of gifts activate that part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure, which is advantageous for both parties.


This event is just one story, one incident, and one interaction, but the benefits of giving are not limited to exciting anecdotes; they also extend to our greater society. If we all came to accept the value of giving and the realization of how it uplifts everyone, it would go a long way to help humanity rise above the belief in separateness and help us realize our Oneness.


Peace and Blessings,

James

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