Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Us & Them

Do you ever feel like you're fighting against the world?  Like the world is sitting at your doorstep waiting for you to walk outside with non-matching socks or hoping you'll spill coffee on yourself as you rush out the door?  Some days just start that way, don't they? You oversleep, an appliance breaks, you forgot to study for a test, forgot to get gas, the list just goes on and on.  Nobody is alone in this. Everyone has moments like this.  The difference is what happens next.

Where does all of that frustration go? Is it repurposed for accepting the imperfect past with a 'we'll get 'em next time' attitude? Or does it flow into a holding tank.  To be honest, I have a pretty large tank.  All the little things that don't go my way or that cause me to feel picked on, all that frustration often pours straight into the tank where I hold on to it tightly.  I hold and hold until its full and then it blows into a war against the world.  Since the 'world' made me this way, then I'm out to get the world.  That usually involves a short temper, bad attitude, critical eye about anyone and everyone just because I'm not happy and very little resilience when it comes to difficulty.

Here's a big problem with that: My large tank exploding has nothing, I mean NOTHING to do with the rest of the world.  I am the one causing the explosion, creating the fire and storing up the fuel for it.  The world around me just happens to be there, taking the punishment and blame for my bad attitude.  Not really ok.

I'm getting on my soapbox for just a second here, but this has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. Why does there always have be an US - THEM mentality?  It's common to find yourself joining with those you agree with and criminalizing the 'OTHERS' that don't see things like you do.  But what good does that do?  I've said it before but I'm saying it again: No matter the topic - politics, religion, family feuds, sports, whatever - there is almost always value in sliding closer to the middle than polarized opposites.  Take our government's budget situation right now.  What's the problem - red and blue believe in different things, but they are tasked with coming to a compromised decision.  Instead of crossing their arms saying "I want my way or nothing at all!", they are going to have to focus on the things they do agree on and go from there.  Look at what happens when they don't - the government almost shuts down.  When families fight it can be no different at all, perhaps even uglier. "They are awful because they hurt me! I want my way and if I can't have it then I don't care what happens to anyone else!" Family fights are often the hardest because of all the people that are innocently involved and hurt because a couple of people can't act like grown-ups and at least agree to disagree.

Whatever the arena, if you (we) are doing the hurting or the hurting one, lashing out and demonizing or polarizing another side only leads to more fighting and discontent.  No sane person can expect to agree with everyone they meet.  But being at peace with someone does not mean that you agree with them or that you live the same way.  Somewhere we got this idea that I can't be polite, encouraging or love someone that does not agree with every single thing (big and small) that I do.  What sense does that make?  And if I am right about something, doesn't it add credibility when I am peaceable and loving, rather than reactive, hateful and explosive?

Sorry for the heaviness, but my heart has been rather heavy.  Here's to peace! "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men -Hebrews 12:18 

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