By Margaret Wachholz
It is not possible to eliminate every source of tension & disagreement in our lives. While in the US military my daughter adopted the attitude, Bring It On! when tasked to bark out orders as a new Squad Leader.
She took the stress response up as energizing vs. debilitating. The nerve-racking energy worked in her favor. When it failed, the triggers were opportunities from which to learn & grow.
Fear does not need to be our enemy. We’ve always had a competitive & adventurous spirit. We’ve always been lively, rebellious & culturally diverse.
The trouble is that many aspects of our life—the phone notifications, the cable news crawl are bruising, amplifying a lot of misinformation & fear mongering. We are failed by headlines on the media that just demonize the one or censor the other.
Isn’t it possible to participate in a fantastic argument & have a robust disagreement? The opposite of fear may be curiosity & wonder.
Agreement & lockstep has rarely been the qualifier for people to love each other. We are alive when we can discuss in a space where we are not destroying one another. I get passionate & raise my voice—that communication is just an Irish exchange over a Guinness! Politics & religion seem to parallel with salvation for many & it is hard to question/wonder if we could be wrong or if the other has something valid to say.
When we stop questioning & believe we alone see truth, our brains turn to mush.
Like some politicians last year, we can show a lack of impulse control & thoughtlessness. We want to be on the receiving end of kindness but have trouble dishing it out.
Missing was a quality of deep virtue of kindness, goodness, curiosity & the jostle, & enjoyment of saying, “Yeah, we disagree.” We were turned off, bored & anxious. I do not know what it is like to be ridiculed by the media & have my every move questioned. Perhaps I too would be a bitter, garrulous boor as well.
We evolved to be compassionate as far back as our hunter-gathering days. If one member of the tribe suffers, we were all at risk; so, taking care of one another is hard-wired into our species.
To be fruitful, to be able to have discourse about things with less fear & to be confident that clarity, does not mean agreeing. Language that is a soft, but robust needs the green light—we can have this with each other.
To live well together is a vision we have. That does not mean to agree, or to have things perfect. It means to say that in the context of imperfection and difficulty, we can find the capacity & the skill, as well as the generosity & courtesy, to live well together.
Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living.