The path to victory over villains

In these particularly polarizing times, we can at least all agree on one thing: we are stronger—as a nation and as people—if we stand united.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Many of us adamantly insist on our view being the “right” one, mindlessly trampling over opposing views and contributing to emotional “carnage”—widening the divisive gap that already threatens us.

In Marvel Comic’s most recent Avengers film, “Captain America: Civil War,” the superheroes become divided and fight amongst each other. Toward the end of the film (spoiler alert!), the divisiveness becomes so corrosive that some of them fight to their potential death. It’s revealed that this was villain Helmut Zemo’s true intention all along. He confesses that he knew he couldn’t beat the Avengers, but if he could get them to destroy each other, then they would defeat themselves.

“An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again,” Zemo explains. “But one that crumbles from within is dead forever.”

Villain Zemo’s comment seems eerily prescient with all that has transpired since the US election. We don’t know who our “villains” are because there are so many combative opinions. The deadliest villains aren’t the Russians. They aren’t the Chinese. It isn’t President Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, either. The true villain is within us.

If we give in to fear in any form, then we have lost. Our universal triumph comes only through our commitment to stay aligned with Love and Oneness. If we don’t, we would lose more than an election. We lose grace, clarity and integrity—threads that weave the fabric of our compassion—as human beings. For this is what makes us more evolved mammals. This is both our challenge and our opportunity in times of political upheaval. To remain strong and vigilant about our values, but doing so with benevolence.

Now, more than ever, it’s critical to take our mindfulness practice out of our yoga and meditation rooms and into our daily lives—toward all fellow Americans and people everywhere. It’s imperative that we counteract anxiety with calmness, confusion with clarity, anger with compassion, dread with hope and, ultimately, fear with love. This is what liberates us from the chains of chaos. This is how we achieve victory as a united nation. And this is how we remain empowered as individuals.

So, rather than focusing on how we “Beat the change,” perhaps we can aspire to “Be the change,” as Gandhi so wisely advised. For this is an act more courageous than that of any superhero.

This article was originally published on HuffPost on January 31, 2017.