How To Create Relationships Where Peace Reigns
PHIL: Maude forwards me a daily newsletter from Jessica Craven, and this week, Jessica started with an excerpt of a poem by Aurora Levins Morales:
Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up,
when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning
and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts,
embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders,
teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies,
recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire:
Another world is possible.
I read the entire poem and was blown away by it, especially this line:
Imagine war is a scarcely credible rumor
Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience.
We realized that this vision of peace is similar to what we describe when we talk about peace within a relationship. Not everybody can accept the possibility of world peace. For instance, John Blaney, the author of Lennon and McCartney: Together Alone, describes Lennon’s lyrics as hypothetical possibilities that offer no practical solutions and are at times nebulous and contradictory, asking the listener to abandon political systems while encouraging one similar to communism.
Similarly, many people are unable to accept the idea of a completely peaceful relationship. The model of struggle and conflict is so embedded in the culture that it is deemed to be endemic in relationships too. Even though they may go well most of the time, the same energy that drives international conflicts – struggles for power and resources – underlies the entire attitude within the relationship, and can break out whenever there is any disagreement.
And yet this is completely inappropriate because relationships are not about limited resources at all; they supply love, affection, caring, conversation, touch, sex, companionship. These are not supplies that run out; there is always more the next day.
To take this attitude requires the same mindset that understands world peace. It requires accepting other people as your equals. It requires a renunciation of violence save in self-defense. It requires a belief in the goodness of others.
So peace in relationships is an inside job. The work is internal.
In Western societies, especially in America, the individual is taken as paramount. The country was created by the Declaration of Independence, and I think the idea of independence has been so absorbed by its citizens that the sense of being separate overwhelms the sense of connection, and that sense of connection is not recognized at all.
And yet the starting point has to be connection. You have to find the us in relationships, the place of interaction. It has to start there; it can’t be separateness. The work is getting in touch with the experience of connection; allowing that into your reality.
Language gets in the way here because it is inherently a divisive tool, and the idea that you are both an individual and connected at the same time is hard to comprehend. But it is true; you are a part of larger things like a relationship, a family and society. The truth of this is not found in language; it lives within you, and that is the work.If you want peace in the world, create peace in your relationships #quote #peace #relationships Click To Tweet
MAUDE: As Phil mentioned, we were discussing this line from a wonderful poem called V’ahavta by Aurora Levins Morales: “Imagine war is a scarcely credible rumor”. The poem describes a way of being together that resonates with us on many levels, reminding us of both John Lennon’s Imagine and our writings on relationships. Phil, when he was first talking about this line, paraphrased it by saying, “Imagine when people will think “What was that thing called war?!”
This made me remember something else I had seen posted on social media by someone celebrating a 20-year anniversary. This person was so happy that they were still together and still in love. He described their journey as years of fighting, couples therapy, courses, and slugging their way through the arguments to this place where they were still together and still happy.
I thought of this poem and Phil’s paraphrase and how they could be applied to relationships, particularly the deep and intimate ones.
It is widely assumed that when two unique and therefore distinctly different persons interact closely, there will naturally be discord, fighting, separation, anger, judgment, and all manner of war between the parties.
Phil and I challenge this assumption at its root. It is based on the idea that difference is a cause for discord, and again we are taught that this is the usual case. This falsely assumes that there are two individuals present in a relationship, two entities, and only two entities. This is where the idea of inherent opposition derives from, and it is particularly fostered in societies where individualism is highly valued.
In a relationship, there is a third entity, often referred to as the ‘we’. The tricky thing to understand and to openly experience is that all three exist at the same time: the two distinct individuals and the we.
In this reality, unity flourishes and we can find a different way to relate to each other; a way where difference, diversity of feelings and styles of expressing ourselves are experienced positively. There does not need to be clashing, gnashing, fighting, or the ensuing distance. For that to change, there has to be a choice; a choice for true connection, for hope, trust, and love.
When this happens, we say with wonder, “What was that thing called war?!”
Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: January lights, Cambria Pines Lodge
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