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Relationships only work if…

The fill-in-the-blank on that one seems obvious. In reality, it is subject to many deviations from reality. Children come home from school professing to hate a former best friend because they didn’t agree on something. Group mentality prevents one faction from embracing another because of loyalties to the club, gang, team, religion or whatever chasm divides them into rivals or enemies. A spouse has expectations that aren’t met and withdraws rather than entering conversation toward understanding. Relationships…

We rant about those who think, look, speak, worship or love differently than we do, all the while circling ourselves with those who reflect our views and attitudes in a disturbing attempt to be on the right side…as if that alone gives us worth as a person. Indeed, that thought process simply causes us to diminish the perceived worth of those who do not meet our beliefs and expectations. Relationships…

We have come to a place in our society where groups pride themselves on polarization and vilifying those who don’t share their mandated common cause. I read a news article today that gave permission to hate someone who voted for a candidate the reader didn’t like. Seriously!!! Our freedom to vote for the candidate of our choice was leveled to a school yard fight. It’s the old “my way or the highway” concept of how to get along in life – a philosophy that has never worked to promote a healthy relationship.

What ever happened to listening? You know, two ears and one mouth…use them proportionately? What about listening to another’s views, beliefs and attitudes openly and honestly to understand what they think, feel and love? What about finding common ground and growing out of that commonality? What about recognizing that life experiences lead all of us in different directions and to different understandings? And, what about sharing our collective wisdoms to find solutions that are cooperative and greater than any one perspective could ever produce? Relationships!!!

Instead, we tend to dig in our heels and deny that any mindset other than the one we share with our cronies has validity. We jump into conflict and believe resolution will come only when we get our way. And, we believe this at all cost. Friends, it is where we are at in our country, our neighborhoods, our families, our churches, our offices, our schools… We have become the Polarized States of America. Unity is gone and we believe it won’t return until  everyone else buys into our narrow-minded rhetoric. Be very clear, it is all narrow minded rhetoric when it becomes a rabidly held belief, no matter how liberal or conservative the motives are.

Our demise will come from our inability to listen…to understand…to believe in the good of someone who disagrees with us…to respect differing opinions. All we really need to do is listen and understand that our own hot air professions aren’t the only game in town. Finally, the goal shouldn’t be about who wins and who loses…the goal should be about how we nurture relationships.

And, relationships only work if…

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   – Maya Angelou

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