Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Can You Relate?

Nearly seven billion people reside on this planet, and we cannot get along. Seven billion separate minds rely on faulty verbal and visual cues to communicate the invisible inside. So many personalities, agendas, opinions, passions, habits, rivalries, prejudices and desires fail easily. We clash with such frequency that I wonder how we have survived on the same rock for so long. We take offense at the slightest gaffe; we rise up in umbrage at each misstatement, and never more so than with the ones we love. We wage war in response to provocations both bold and mild. And, when faced with an offense – whether murder or misstep – we react with such equality of passion that I wonder if it is the war or the provocation that matters most.

Relationships are both microcosmic and macrocosmic. Although we like to think that our interactions become more sophisticated as we enter into more complex relationships, we play no better at the international level than we do at the national, city, club, family or sand-box levels. Act in a way that we dislike, or worse still, do not understand, and questions become arguments, become public statements, become name-calling. Then, we drag in our friends, build factions, and draw the lines of war.

“I want that!”
“You can’t do that!”
“Your mama wears army boots!”
“My dad can beat your dad!”
“Your president is the devil!”
“Let’s invade!”

If only we would talk to rather than at, and then listen and respond, and then repeat until we truly see that there is common ground. Certainly, there are the crazy people, the greedy and the power-hungry. They don’t care about your perspective. They don’t care about your feelings. It’s their world, we are captive, and anything that goes against their person- or world-view is a cause to saddle up for battle. And, when they run into someone else who is crazy, greedy and power-hungry, well then maybe it’s Armageddon, and maybe cooler heads prevail until the next antagonistic word or gesture.

Yet, there are always voices (on the playground, in the boardroom, at the summit, at the podium), saying:

“Hey! Stop! Can I help? Let’s just talk. Let’s just think. What is really bothering you? Did you listen to what she said? Well, what do you have to say? What if we tried this? Would that work for you? Did you really listen to what he said? Maybe we can do both. Let’s try. OK?”

We need more of those voices. With more of those voices, we may all be heard. With more of those voices, we meet across the breach. With more of those voices we approach as true an understanding that separate, invisible minds can find.

Unless it’s that crazy nitwit downstairs who hogs all the parking spaces with his precious Mercedes and motorcycles.

1 comment:

Lori Skoog said...

Well put Fe. I forgot to tell you that my friend Tina (with the photographs) is now enjoying your writing along with me.

How is your son doing?

Hope all is well.