Difficulties emanate from self.
February 19, 2007
Your life is characterized completely through your relationships—your relationships with others, your relationships with your environment, and most especially your relationship with yourself. All human beings find times when they are confronting demons of one kind or another. The greatest demon that impacts your lives is the demon of self-awareness, and with that, self-respect. If you are to engage constructively with relationships, you must also account for your relationship to yourself. This is easy to say, but it is also a lifelong ambition. It is an effort that is never fully concluded, for you and all human beings attempt to understand yourselves within a wider community. The community may be academic, may be family, may be a community of worship in absolute silence, but it is nevertheless a community. It is important for everyone to recognize that it is not just you as an individual who must come to terms with yourself, but it is for all individuals to establish their own firm footing.
Difficulties in relationships always emanate from self. If you have difficulty with the actions or beliefs of another, the difficulty is yours. It may not lie only on the shoulders of others. If one nation or one community is in conflict with another, the real difficulty stems from that community or nation experiencing the difficulty, for each nation, each community, each individual interacts with the environment from the only perspective they can have—that is, their own.
Place yourself in the position of another. Come to understand that the actions or beliefs of others are always based on the perspective of the other. If you disapprove of what a group espouses, you must always acknowledge that what they believe, they believe. Those beliefs are not formed to be in opposition to yours. They are formed because it is what they believe. Every nation, every group, every individual holds a certain set of beliefs, and it is those owned beliefs, those relationships with themselves, that motivate interaction. Conflict, as you understand it, is therefore a disagreement in perspective. The perspective is not set up in opposition to anything. The perspective is the perspective.
When you seek understanding in your relationships with others—family, associates, communities—you must always acknowledge that the actions you observe are based on firmly held beliefs and understandings. You may disagree with what someone does, but that action is based on conviction. You are never asked to agree with all points of view. You are never asked to be in agreement with all variety of actions. But you are asked to acknowledge the basis for those actions, the commonly held beliefs. In doing so, you affirm the value of that entity with which you are in conflict.