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How to Deal With the Trauma of This Past Week

Riot at U.S. CapitolPHIL: So, it’s been quite a week. It’s Friday as we write, impeachment and the 25th Amendment are hanging in the air, and we have been unable to focus on writing this post. The shock is like an earthquake – sorry for the stale metaphor, but it is like having something that you always thought was solid move from under you. Maude has felt this even more than me. I feel as if I live in the mid-Atlantic, not quite British or American.

One of the things this has done is to make Maude and me feel very protective and supportive of each other. We are alike in our views. We can each calm the other, pull them back from obsessing about the situation to a more centered activity.

We don’t want to write about the politics of this because you’ve probably been exposed to too much of that by now, and that’s not what we do in this blog, yet of course we can’t ignore it, so I’d like to offer some views about how people are. People have split into two camps and it’s no longer a question of facts, it’s a question of rationality itself.

Here’s the challenge: Do you see other people in terms of their similarities or their differences? Because if you look at the differences, then multiple factions are inevitable. If you look at similarities, then detente is possible. I call this the one world position. But there is an exquisite paradox here. If you hold this one world position, you have to include people who don’t believe it, otherwise you’re back to different factions. This acceptance of diversity is precisely what saves a one world view from the fears of conformity.

This is not as easy as I make out. It avoids the question of the extent to which one person or group can make demands on others. Abortion? Environmental controls? Gun control?

Having to choose between similarity and difference is a mirage. They coexist, and the question must be which one is uppermost, or which one we choose to look at.

Maude and I have a very clear view of what makes up a successful relationship, and that is, in order: individuality, core values and acceptance. Applying these to the world at large, individuality means accepting that other people are different, both in how they behave and how they think society should be organized. You think you have the perfect answer and everybody else is wrong?

The idea behind core values is that behind individual desires, we have deeper ones, and below that, deeper needs still, and for a compatible couple, these meet at some point and a peaceful resolution can be found. For people as a whole, we all have needs for food, shelter and social contact, so surely, we can find somewhere to meet about thos.

In a relationship, once core values are aligned, you can then practice total acceptance; that whatever the other person does is not a cause for conflict because there is always some place where you can find agreement. And so that should be the case in general, that we can find common interests with other people if we look deep enough.

Now that may seem very idealistic in the face of what we are seeing today in politics, but the way to get there is to communicate without anger and to seek understanding. Yes, that’s a huge challenge in the face of separate realities and a history of wrongs, but if you want one world, that is what you have to do.

MAUDE: Amid the turmoil and trauma of this past week, it has been challenging to write a blog about relationships. And yet, in the end, that is what it is all about. How will we all decide to relate to each other?

Some of the thoughts that really struck me as I listened to broadcast after broadcast were that words count and the acts that we take matter. And so I call upon you, each in your own way, to participate with us in words and actions that further spread peace one relationship at a time. How, you may wonder? In this time where hatred and confusion are promoted, many others are asking the same question.

I would like to offer here some of the main points that Phil and I have shared on how to experience peace within relationships with the fervent hope that we can all continue to move forward into this way of being together.

The choice that faces us is whether we come from fear or love. In the end, it is that simple. Are we going to act as agencies for fear, or will we live and spread love as we pass by? We wish for the best possible outcome for all. And here lies another one of the issues at the crux of real change. Are we acting alone, only concerned for ourselves and our own little group, or do we believe and act upon the understanding that we are all connected, all part of one big global family. If the latter, then we must put that in the forefront of all our decisions and choices. Hope Can Dawn With The New Year

The cornerstone of peaceful conflict-free relating is the practice of mutuality: the certainty that it is possible to find mutual solutions and the act of creating them. This requires the ability to search beyond differences to find the matching values. It requires the desire to understand and honor the needs of the other…Just as it is necessary to believe in and desire mutuality, concomitant aspects are also required: not seeking out argument or division, not being driven by a need to be right, not looking for power dominance over others or always wanting your way (not seeing that the ‘other’ way might actually be the same only dressed up in different details.) Why is Mutuality Important in Your Relationships?

One of the deepest and, yes sacred, parts of any relationship is the total mutual respect for each other’s individuality. Your partner – and everyone else – is different from you. You may think that is too obvious to even be pointed out; you may think it’s bound to cause difficulties, but unless these differences are profound, they need not be a problem. When you understand that both of you are unique and that this is a gift to be savored and appreciated, you are on the road to creating a wonderful relationship. It’s Important to Honor Individuality in Your Relationships

I know that what we are all facing together is huge, as many have come to believe that the divide between people and belief systems is so great that we cannot breach it; that basic morality is at issue here – opposing core values that cannot be accepted. Yes, this is a great challenge. It is by growing through these challenges, and through finding our way to love and learning how to respond with love in these challenging situations, that we lay the groundwork for peace. What each of us does matters!

Photo credit: Tyler Merbler CC BY 2.0

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Books on shelfIn our latest blog, we wrote about the traumatic events of this week and how to respond to them by choosing love over fear. Here are several articles about that as well as links to several worthy organizations working toward peaceful resolution.

Healing the political divide "With votes now tallied, and in some cases, electoral outcomes having been determined by extremely narrow margins and marked by legal challenges, there is no doubt that the political divide in the United States is a central trait of the country. And as this divide seems likely to continue to grow, for many of us it feels uncrossable. Yet psychological science suggests that it is both possible and imperative for members of our society to find common ground."

Jack Kornfield on Sitting in Love Rather Than Fear "A dialogue on fear and love between Jack Kornfield and Catherine Ingram.
Jack Kornfield: …In the Buddhist teaching, one of the phrases for the sense of separateness, the illusion of separateness that we’re separate from the world is called “The body of fear” – the more separate we feel the more we fear the world because we feel that we’re somehow apart from it. And so to deal with fear is really deep and persistent – in some way love and fear are the opposite sides of the same coin. Love is that which expands beyond fear in some fashion."

Building a House United "do our politics have to be demonizing? Does it have to bring out the worst in us? Do our politics have to destroy the goodwill of our society?  Is the dehumanizing of our fellow Americans something we should accept? We do not accept this. At Braver Angels we do not accept this division. We reject the normalizing of this extreme polarization. We say no to the break down of political and social life that it brings. "

What could you do in a violence-free society? "My Peace, Our Future brings together people from across the world to share their personal visions of peace — and what they dream of doing in a more just and equitable world, free from violent conflict. Leaders can help set the tone for this world transformed. It’s a choice that they often need to be reminded of, and that’s what this campaign is all about."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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