Ubuntu….has to do with what it means to be truly human,
to know that you are bound up with others in this bundle of life
– Desmond Tutu –
…knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished
when others are humiliated or diminished
– Desmond Tutu –
I have been thinking about how one can disagree productively. Or at the very least how one can disagree without being destructive. It’s such a difficult thing to do because one disagrees with another person because one knows one is right and the other person is wrong. That is the way of it, isn’t it?
When I was young (and sadly it still happens occasionally now) it felt like I was doing people a favour by pointing out how wrong they were. I kept an eagle eye out so as to catch them in every mistake, point it out and all for their greater good. I think back and I cringe and sometimes I so wish I could go back or have those people back so that I can say how sorry I am. Sorry that I repaid intended kindness by noticing the small error, the mistake in presentation.
Thankfully I now mostly know that I don’t know. That I can only see my bit of it, that I often don’t know what is right for me let alone for other people whose hearts are closed books to me. Oh how do we know where life is taking us or them.
This issue is often on my mind because I have struggled with a black or white approach to many issues. I used to want to agree with those around me and on occasion did so because I felt that to disagree is necessarily adversarial. So I then suppress my true opinions. Or I decided that the person I disagree with is necessarily bad in some way. Nowadays I often say I am not sure. I work towards what I feel is right for me and try hard to notice when it is not.
We live in a time when what I think and what you think and what we say about it and to whom and where is fraught with danger and pitfalls. I have thought and thought about why this is so. And it seems to me it is because (in part) the thing we say or the thing they say is code for something else or it has become an identifier of our beliefs. Or our politics. So, if we think it, it seems to mean we also think all these other things that place us in an identifiable camp.
But that is of course not necessarily so. Or is it? Are we now so easy to sort into sheep and goats? I really don’t think so. I know people who are so kind and understanding on one issue but become rabid when confronted with another. I am like that! But less often now than before. So we go towards the light!
Our life is love and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another…
and helping one another up with a tender hand
– Isaac Penington –