Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Us AND Them


Truth. Justice. Mercy. Peace.

John Paul Lederach, a peace and conflict transformation professor from Notre Dame states, "The rub is that these four elements often contradict each other. For example, justice often involves punishment and violence, which is the opposite of mercy. Or, speaking the truth creates more conflict, which is the opposite of peace." Hmm. The key is balance, flexibility, patience and forgiveness. But the fact is, those four nouns take so much, well, balanceflexibilitypatienceforgiveness and TIME in order for people to start seeing results. I think that's the problem with what's going on; there's a quick fix for everything, which pacifies, but then the problem gets loose again and we end up losing our surface protection of ignorance. It's like a break up, a particularly drawn-out one. The initial problem is always around, though it may get glossed over from time to time. As my program always puts it, we’re only treating the symptoms, not curing the disease. We've all been there; don't even try to deny it.

I think it's really interesting how the causes of large-scale issues can be similar to smaller scale ones. The other day, I met up with someone who graduated from Earlham a few years ago (in Jordan... of all places), and, of course, we talked about the omnipresent conflict in the Middle East. We boiled the root down to a huge communication problem. Disclaimer: THE ROOT of the problem. The miscommunication or the denial of communication is just a propeller or stimulant, especially when communication is needed in the most desperate situation!

Horrible communication is often at the root of the conflict that can only involve two people. Actually, this past semester, I had a few situations like this, which was why it was so exhausting. Communication was waaaaay off, and we tried in vain to fix the overall relationship, but it just didn’t work because we weren’t addressing the underlying issue of our poor communication. Alas, after a whole lot of grief and stress, the dwindling relationship crashed down. Now I’m in an angsty and prolonged argument. However, this is better than no communication. We don’t want to be Palestine and Israel and completely avoid each other, do we? That’s just about as harmful as staying in the relationship and pretending there aren’t any problems.

Anyway, I'm looking for different outlets of communication. It's easy to say that we all need to communicate better, but when there's a communication breakdown in my own life, I turn into a hypocrite. I'm not actually emulating the world I want to see based on my actions. Gotta start now. Gotta go tell my boss that I'm heading out. Gotta take care of a different situation. Gotta get back in touch with those I've had trouble with. I'm searching for the real, long-term solution. It's a big deal. That's why I gotta go, and in two days I'll take a break from my hard work because it'll be my birthdayyyyy!!!!

Picture: a UFO in Wadi Rum.

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