Back when I taught Yoga to university students I would use examples of ordinary everyday topics to illustrate how the Yamas and Niyamas (the first two limbs of Patanjali's 8 Limbed Path). With this post I hope to use the analogy of cultivating balance in our bodies to the topic of striving for a balanced and equitable democratic society.
There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding White Privilege, systemic racism, and other barriers to full participation in what is purported to be a democratic republic. The ideals of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution have not always been upheld for all citizens (to put it mildly) and in many cases ignored or subverted in ways that White people may not notice (as we have often grown up in rather insulated fashion) but which are all too apparent to Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous people.
If we think of our nation as a body, we must consider the health of the entire body as being supported by the health and maintenance of each individual component of it. If we only care about our outward appearance but neglect our digestive health we may find that over time our outward appearance begins to show that neglect. For example, if we only eat toxic food our tissues will eventually break down as they don't have the nutrients needed for repair. Once we begin eating healthful nutritious foods again we can notice ourselves looking and feeling better.
If we consider our nation as being represented by our legs, with one leg being much stronger than the other we may not notice for a while how we favor using that dominant leg until we injure the weaker leg or the muscular imbalance causes an injury elsewhere in the body because of the unequal stresses placed on it. Only by strengthening the weaker leg until both legs are equally strong can we reduce the potential for an injury due to an imbalance between the two.
A couple hundred years ago the leader of the Bahai'i Faith used the analogy of the wings of a bird, one wing representing men and the other women: "The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment.".
Extending this analogy to encompass the human body as a metaphor for the various communities in the US, only when we strive to support the health of all of our various people (Black, White, Indigenous, poor, middle class etc) can we as a nation become a truly strong and healthy democratic republic that truly lives up to its promise.
The unrest and division our nation is experiencing is our "body" experiencing symptoms of an illness or disease that must be addressed if we want to survive as a nation. First we must attune ourselves to the messages our struggling body is sending us, then we must strive to act on those messages in order to create and maintain a balance of power and avoid allowing one group to abuse their imbalance of power.