Monday, April 23, 2007


I challenged someone today. I told a teenage client that they would find more happiness from going out of their way to give back to a friend than they do manipulating them to get what they want all the time. In fact, I bet them it would be the highlight of their week.

This particular person looked at me like I was crazy.

Which, now that I think of it, is a perfectly reasonable response from their view of how the world works. When relationships are thought of as comptetitions for scant resources, when the world is one big zero sum game with clearly defined winners and losers, then manipulation begins to make sense as a strategy in life.

But, of course, the world is more complex than that. Attempts to manipulate others to get what we want end up distancing us from everyone who once supported us. Our very ability to get our needs met depends upon our ability to give, to maintain our friendships. Our happiness depends on the happiness of others. And theirs upon ours.

Which got me thinking about much that is wrong in our world and in our country. Like how we divide ourselves politically into camps and celebrate our "enemy's" defeats as much as the victories of our side. Like how so many people marginalize or demonize groups of people based on race or economic status or legal history or sexual orientation.

We forget, somehow, that our happiness depends on the happiness of others, even of others with whom we powerfully disagree.

I pray that we come to more fully realize the wisdom in Christ's teaching that we should love even our enemies.


more cows than people said...

mmm... lovely. i hope this teenager takes you up on your challenge.

Rachel Rev said...

For some reason, your post made me think of a passage in Ursula LeGuin's sci-fi novel The Left Hand of Darkness:

"How does one hat a country, or love one?... I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sn at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving boundaries to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of another one's country?... Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a bounday line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope." - Therem Harth rem ir Estraven