Archive for the ‘cooperation’ Tag

SEMINAR CONTINUED: RECONCILIATION – WHY?   4 comments

Now that we’re thinking about it, what is reconciliation anyway? The answer to “why” depends first of all on knowing what reconciliation means in the particular case. My thesaurus has some interesting answers, the first of which is “Settlement.” Under that it lists the following as equivalents for “reconciliation:”

  • Understanding
  • Resolution
  • Compromise
  • Reunion
  • Ceasefire
  • Appeasement
  • Bringing together
  • The opposite of Conflict

I think this list is as good as any as a jumping off point to answer the question “Why?” Why strive for reconciliation?

I’d like first to focus on “settlement.” Yes, I know the definition refers originally to money settlement, the payment of debts. But I’m choosing to take the psychological/emotional route. Reconciliation doesn’t even become an issue until something unsettling, disturbing, stressful happens, or creeps into one’s awareness. It’s the feeling that someone else owes you something and refuses to pony up. How quickly do we get to “He owes me an apology, or a change of attitude, or cooperation, – or at least an explanation.” If such is not forthcoming, there’s a good chance anger will follow. How good it would feel to get even – to tell the offender off. How about a nice angry e-mail? “There. That’s settled.”

But is it really? What about the recipient who, chances are, will not be happy to receive that hurtful anger? Would it really be enough just to make the other guy unhappy? Nope. There’s no settlement there. Just an increase in the pain total. Settlement and stress reduction and pain relief won’t follow.

So, why reconciliation? One potential reason, because unilateral vengeance won’t make the pain go away – unless, of course, one enjoys another’s distress. They call that sadism.

And, of course, there’s no opportunity to receive the apology or explanation if other people have been turned off, or the reciprocal desire to hurt gets turned on.

Conclusion, reconciliation requires a genuine desire to reduce distress. Something more than one-sided spewing of anger is needed for settlement. It seems to me that’s where “understanding” comes in.

Oh, but now what does “understanding” mean?

Or maybe it’s not anger that erupts, but despair that depresses. “I give up. There’s nothing more I can do.” Maybe settlement can’t happen between living people. Maybe the other person isn’t willing, or isn’t even capable of responding, as in having an issue with someone who has completed the earthly journey. Maybe the settlement can only be internal.

“Understanding” can still help. The stress can still be reduced. Next time I’d like to introduce “Jennies rule.”

In the meantime, are some of you willing to give examples of what “settlement” would mean to you?

 

 

THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN GOODNESS   12 comments

Many years ago now, my friend and colleague Barbara McEwen, a physiological psychologist,  made me aware that I didn’t fully understand the meaning of “The Survival of the Fittest.” Like so many people, I thought it meant that the winners were the ones who managed to beat the competition and pass on their genetic material. Barb pointed out that cooperation is every bit as important as competition, evoking my reaction of “Of course, why didn’t I know that,”

Sadly, Barb is no longer with us to see the influence of people like her. But, fortunately, scientists are now exploring the implications of humanity’s cooperative side, with an emphasis on human goodness. Right now I’m reading a collection of articles by scientists who are exploring this side of humanity. They don’t deny what we can’t avoid seeing — the competitive side of our heritage. But it’s not the only side. (In fact, right now it seems to me that’s the major battle going on politically and throughout the world: selfish competition vs. compassionate cooperation.}

The book to which I am referring is edited by Dacher Keltner and Jason Marsh,”The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.”It’s a selection of articles from the magazine “The Greater Good.” It’s one of three magazine I need in my life to offer the positives over the noise and stress of today’s communications.

I’m not going to review the book here, or try to summarize the kinds of things that have been studied. I just want to mention two of them: gratitude and forgiveness.

As for gratitude, I’d like, ironically, to start a competition. Who can provide the longest list of things for which one is grateful.

As for forgiveness, I’m going to break down and summarize, bit by bit, the content of my own “Forgiving One Page at a Time.”

So be prepared, I’m about to start compiling my own gratitude list and share the numbers, not necessarily the content.

Forgiveness will be next.

Tell me, does that sound like a good plan?

 

GERUNDS, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, AND “YES.”   5 comments

Yesterday I called my sister to wish her a happy birthday. In the conversation I said something like,” I’d like to talk about gerunds.” Her response was immediate and enthusiastic, loosely quoted, “It makes me furious.” There was no need to explain my intention. So when did it become correct to say “”I appreciate you coming with me,” instead of “I appreciate your coming with me?” Obviously it’s now acceptable, but when did it happen? My sister, the former teacher and MFA, can explain in detail the new relationship. As she pointed out, we learned the gerund rule way back in grammar school but we have to accept that language usage changes, even though it causes ear pain. I for one, though, expect to continue saying, “I appreciate your coming.”

But then, what does it really matter when the cover of the “Intelligence Report” from the Southern Poverty Law Center says “The Year in Hate and Extremism: The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes” and spells out in the interior contents the details of growing racism, hate, and consequent violence.

In the same reading session, however, I found an article in “Yes” magazine where Frances Moore Lappe says “A new way of seeing that is opening up to us can form a more life-saving mental map. I call it ‘eco-mind’ — looking at the world through the lens of ecology. This worldview recognizes that we, no less than any other organism, live in relation to everything else.” Gong on, she elaborates six inherent traits we can foster, once we learn to navigate the world with the map of eco-mind.

1)    Cooperation

2)    Empathy

3)    Fairness

4)    Efficacy

5)    Meaning

6)    Imagination, Creativity, and attraction to change.

Pages 12-15, Yes” Spring 2012. www.yesmagazine.org

I want to believe those traits will overcome hate. But then, I didn’t say I expect they will.

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