Like you, I’m disturbed and upset to see what is going on in the Middle East right now…
I had hoped that after the difficult last year, we might have realised we have more in common with each other, and more to gain through collaborative behaviour, than not.
I’ve been reflecting on the dynamics of conflict and realising that perhaps war out there will not stop until we, each of us, are able to create peacefulness and not argument and upset, in our local immediate lives; with our partner, children, parents, siblings, neighbours, colleagues, etc.
Obviously much easier said than done!
Hurt, Fear & Hate
Each of us has a story, a history of past hurts and wounds, fears of things happening again. Each of us, each in our own way, some more and some less, are traumatized by our past.
The thing is, that most usually, when we attack another, we are believing that we are doing the right thing, we are defending ourself, or our family or our national honour. We believe that we are innocent and the other party is the horrible, bad, terrible one! I’m good, you are bad.
As George Orwell satirised it in Animal Farm, the animals said “two legs good, four legs bad.”
Division & Judgment
Hatred is easy. Right now we are seeing this writ large, not just in the middle east situation, but in all of the conversations about peoples’ behaviour in response to Covid, Vaccine or No Vaccine. We are becoming polarized – even more than we already were – into opposing camps.
The truth is that we are all different. And we are meant to be different. Just look at the abundance of difference and variety nature produces – and that is part of her beauty and reproductive success. Us humans are very different from each other, yes, in the way that we look or sound, dress or eat, our styles and values and beliefs, and the gods we pray too…
We are not machines. And life is not about conformity and repetition. It is really about celebrating the abundant variety that exists. Delight lies is in the creative meeting of two different people or things…
Hurt & Attack
Often we attackingly criticise and put others down, and are then surprised, when they don’t say anything at first, but then suddenly explode with their hurt and anger. We may not realise that we were the ones, in our habituated aggression, who caused them hurt.
When we feel hurt, our primitive response is to lash out and attack others. “You are horrible” we might say or imply by our laden tone of voice. This behaviour is a clumsy attempt to reset a boundary that felt invaded and to correct a perceived wrong.
But this kind of behaviour tends to perpetuate more violence and more upset. Each, feeling hurt, attacks the other. It is a negative vortex of behaviour and feelings. It just gets worse.
There is another way. It is demanding, but it is worth it. It is a path of patience and kindness, of taking a lot of breaths, feeling, moving and waiting. A path of shaking it up rather than shutting down, self and or others.
It is the way of really daring, allowing ourselves, some time and space and support, to feel the hurt. That’s it, to just feel it. Because paradoxically, when we allow ourselves to really feel something rather than pushing it down and pressing on, it changes, we change and we can behave in a way that invites others to change positively too. We can speak about our own experience as, “I am feeling xxxx” rather than “You are making me feel xxx.”
It is the way of being brave enough to look our from our own castle, our own familiar sense of self, with curiosity and respect towards the other… To listen to them speak or cry or rage, to really look at them to see the authenticity of their feelings and behaviour, to really feel them as a fellow human-being. When we do that, when we witness them as a separate person, different and similar to us, something subtly and positively begins to change. We all need to be really seen.
Divorce settlements and peace deals can only be brokered when we really hear each other.
The act of love is not actually cooking a meal or bringing flowers, doing the dishes or mending a broken chair, it is allowing someone to be, exactly as they are. Imperfectly them.
So often in our intimate relationships we are busy trying to change someone to be who we think they ought to be. That is not really loving behaviour.
Love is accepting someone exactly as they are. Even if they are attacking you in this moment. It is allowing them to do what they need to do — without making them wrong.
Everyone – yes everyone – is acting in the best way they know how. We all see different practical solutions to creating safety. Different pathways to try to reach the best outcome.
We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. Hopefully we all learn. Most of us have more in common with each other than we usually realise. The same two eyes, two ears, mouth and a heart and genitals.
We can respond to someone else’s attack on us with a sweet, kind, gentle, unruffled sweetness. We can stay neutral. We don’t need to bat the ball of blame quicky back…
We can catch it and stop the game!
We can look at our own behaviour to see what distress we may be unwittingly causing others. We can speak up clearly and gently for what we need. In the face of attack, we can radiate a neutral solid love.
We can heal our past, if we are present in this moment. If we can acknowledge our humility and limitations, and calling on a greater power of love than us, ask for healing of old and ancient hurts, and resolution to this and all conflicts. May there be peace.