The world seems riddled with dissenting opinions. Should you have an opinion, there is always someone right there to tell you that you are wrong. More often than not now, they add some name calling with it. It feels like we live in a world that prefers dissenting opinions to collective solutions.
I recently watched a TV show where a young woman, wanting the boss to be a mentor and help her with her career, ends up alone with him at his hotel room. He encourages, seduces her. Her face shows her desire to not have sex, but she allows it. She doesn’t leave or say no, or stop the action. Perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of confusion. I am sure there are some who read this and interpret this to mean the ‘boss’ used the power of his position to have sex with the woman and she is a victim of sexual harassment. Others may believe the boss was just a guy wanting to get lucky with someone who came to his hotel room. She could have left or stopped any advances.
For each of us our interpretation will be based on our interpretation of the laws regarding sexual harassment, the values we have and our personal experience. How we relate to the information influences, and informs our decision on how we interpret if there is fault and who has fault.
There is a wonderful story of the Sufi Hafiz being approached to resolve a disagreement between the people of the village. When the position of one person is explained and Hafiz says, “He is right.” The other side argues the point for the opposite side. Hafiz says, “He is right.” The gentleman who looked for Hafiz to resolve the problem says, “But Hafiz, both cannot be right.” Hafiz replies, “We are all right from our own perspective.”
This makes sense. Language is, after all, merely a tool we use to communicate with each other. There is no way to actually know if what I see as blue is the same as what someone else sees as blue. But I have been given this word, ‘blue’ to describe a colour. As have each of you. Then I apply that word over and over in different situations, even situations where what I call blue may be a little more purple to someone else and they may use the word purple. Through our own lens, we are both right.
But the world is not just full of dissenting opinions, it is full of black and white opinions. I am right, you are wrong. You are right, they are wrong. We are great at applying this to ourselves and our own beliefs. I may believe ‘sugar is bad for me.’ I eat sugar and then believe, ‘I know not to eat sugar and I ate it anyway. I am bad.’ Replace sugar with whatever vice works for you. In any case, this leaves very little room for creative solutions, or good feelings.
Reconciliation is defined as, “the restoration of friendly relations.” This term is also used to describe the action of making one view compatible with another. Thirdly, reconciliation is defined by Google dictionary as “the act of making financial accounts consistent; harmonization.” However, when we are busy being right, with no room for others opinions, we make others feel unsafe with us.
What if we reconciled with ourselves and each other?
What if the primary motive was to be in healthy, happy connections even with people we disagree with?
Healthy and happy connection with ourselves?
What if rather than ‘I am right,’ we said, ‘tell me more.’
What if the goal was to be safe with each other? It seems to me the only way to run a country during a pandemic, to stay safe during a pandemic, to start to heal our environment, to heal racism and the impact of years of colonialism, is to listen to each other and to remain friendly toward each other. Listening and being curious seem to me to be the only way to move forward.