“It is very rare or almost impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view.” -The Dalai Lama
I’ve been reading The Anatomy of Peace: resolving the heart of conflict by The Arbinger Institute. The basic premise is we have the opportunity to create more peace. We can achieve this by seeing others as people rather than objects. Seems obvious right?
Except that is much harder than it seems. I woke up wondering if I could achieve more peace in my life. At a 4th of July BBQ, I entered into a political debate with a couple. I am of the opinion our government is not morally correct on many fronts and I’m saddened by those actions. The couple I spoke with does not condone the actions but are supportive of the current policies. Though both sides were friendly, we certainly did not agree. To be clear, I’m friendly but also very blunt and do not shy away from conflict. I’m also very sensitive. Super bad combo in a debate. I tend to take the whole thing personally when someone doesn’t agree.
And therein lies the problem. I participate in political discussions as win or lose situations. Caught up in the idea that my ‘opponent’ is either with me or against me, I lose sight with the fact we are all entitled to an opinion. Now some of my hard-core liberal friends are shaking their heads and saying, ‘nope, no way can I understand supporters of the current administration. They’re racists, uncaring, uninformed or just plain oblivious’. My conservative friends might say, ‘bleeding heart liberals, voice concerns about the cost of illegal immigrants, liberals are ninformed or just plain oblivious’. Can you hear the ‘us/people’ and ‘them/objects’ in those statements?
Last evening I was holding onto an opinion that ‘they’ were my opponents and ‘they’ were wrong. I had lumped them into a group of people unlike myself. Instead of seeing them as people, I made them objects. I wasn’t open to their opinion or them and they knew it. Have you ever watched someone just stop listening? Slight turn away with a glazed look? That was how our discussion ended. I see now I brought that end upon myself.
The Anatomy of Peace talks about conflict as something we bring upon ourselves and define it as collusion. According to the dictionary collusion is secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others. Collusion is applied in a different way in The Anatomy of Peace. The authors define collusion as “a conflict where the parties are inviting the very things they’re fighting against”.
As I convinced myself of my right opinion and tried to sway my fellow partygoers, I invited them to disagree and spoon feed what I expected. I got exactly what I asked for and guarantee I didn’t change any opinions.
True influencers see everyone as people. I can think of leaders who have swayed the world: Pope Francis, Martin Luther King, The Dalai Lama, Barrack Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, John F Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
One more thought…..you don’t have to be a world leader to change the world. As the Dalai Lama points out, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
- Remember we all have an opinion.
- Don’t assume bad intent.
- Start first with an open heart, you’ll get much further.
The Arbinger Institute https://arbingerinstitute.com
The Dalai Lama https://www.dalailama.com
The Malala Fund https://www.malala.org