July 27, 2003

On with the Fun

OK. Today we went to Mike's birthday party. We were with a lot of people way younger than us. At some point, Pete and I got into a 'discussion' with a young man we both know and love. As usual, we disagreed on just about everything. Neither Pete nor I are very good at keeping out of a debate when one presents itself. I came into the exchange once it was underway, so I don't know how it came about. It got very heated.

This kind of thing doesn't usually bother me. I grew up in a family where this was the norm. Family, friends, and nearly all social acquaintances actually saw these exchanges as a source of entertainment. A sport! On later reflection, someone else's argument and ideas were often assimilated and incorporated into our own thinking. It wasn't unusual that at the next get-together we would include those arguments into our own offering. We expected a level of passion.

Of course, sometimes it was hard not to take what someone else said personally. Most of us want others to agree with us. It can be frustrating when we are not able to sway another to our way of thinking. Sometimes, no matter how well we think we are presenting a reasonable idea, it seems as though we are not getting through. There are times when we take another�s word, tone or manner as an insult. Many of us are just waiting until it is our turn to speak. I have found this true of myself more times than I would like to admit.

It is a rare person who can move the discussion to one that truly becomes an 'exchange of ideas' rather than a 'quarrel'. Once in a while, we run into someone who can present their ideas in such a fashion that we can actually hear them. Their words seem to spring from a place of peace rather than the ego-mind. This kind of person has the ability to gather hearts and minds together and bring about harmony. This is the kind of person who can change the world!

As much as I have always wanted to become such a person, to moderate my tone and present my ideas and beliefs in a way that is respectful to others, I usually fall far short of this goal. For many years, I have tried to tone down the contentious side of me. Not because I don't enjoy the debate. It is because as I moved into the greater world, I found that this wasn't how many families and social groups interacted. I came to realize that lots of people actually avoided these kinds of discussions altogether. And found them disagreeable. Or maybe they actually were able to achieve serious dialog in a more harmonious fashion. Some people like to keep their conversation to informal chit-chat in order to prevent discord.

It depends on a person's comfort level. And, no one's way is really more 'right' than another's. When you consider that everyone's reality is different from that of everyone else, this is not surprising. Cultural and social norms differ throughout our human family. The fact is, that we need each other's differences as much as we need to recognize what we share. Without the counterpoint, the true melody of our song would be missing. It is the uniqueness of each individual that makes our human experience meaningful. Thank God for the differences!

So, on with the fun. Have a good Day!

Posted by Judi at July 27, 2003 11:28 PM | TrackBack
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