Peter Hymans Guest Contributor
As a rather senior man, I have seen, done and experienced a lot of things in many different lands with many cultures. Much of this passage of time has been in and around our greater active and inactive circles, related to Sterling Communities and Mentor Discover Inspire (MDI).
What I know of myself is that I wish to be at peace with the world, now and for eternity. That requires one thing; to emote and to cause peace in my actions, deeds and thoughts.
Having been lectured about “men being solution-oriented,” I take that seriously and I know that requires one to look at the positive trajectory – from an undesirable place to one that is better, or even ideal.
Getting on well with everyone is a daunting goal. One can hardly expect to hold strong all of the time. However, I know I can be responsible and solid enough to modulate my emotions and my actions. This determined context helps me to minimize conflict and maximize collaboration or reconciliation.
We hear that “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies” (Nelson Mandela). I am fortunate that I have learned to “feel other people’s pain.” I refuse to engage in behavior where I cause, amplify or sustain discomfort in others.
Does that make me a totally pacifistic wimp? No! I If and when there is an unavoidable crisis, I have the ability and martial arts training to get jobs done, rehearsed and in muscle memory … just in case. Having solid knowledge and martial arts skills has grounded me in a deeper spirituality and with confidence that I can protect my physical self in an emergency. This competence makes it easy to walk away from conflict, when many others would be drawn in to violence, out of fear and impatience.
In today’s fragile, tinder-dry, highly polarized society, things stand tall as mile-posts on the pathway to forgiveness.
On my men’s teams, over the years one of the key things I heard on rare occasion was “I AM that man.” That ability to identify with the pain, anger, joy, aspirations etc. of other people made it clear to me that I was just another human bungling along, accumulating scars and wisdom as I engage with courage, recover from mistakes and often celebrate harmony.
When I see some aggravating trait or hear someone utter something totally fucked up, I first judge and then catch myself in noting times and places where others saw the same aggravations IN ME. “I am that man” and “I have been that man.”
In this nanosecond/digital/binary world where if someone farts in New Delhi we hear about it on Twitter or FaceBook or or or … even before the odor dissipates. We are conditioned to wanting (and having) answers NOW. This false sense of urgency brings on an impatience wrapped up in anxiety, cloaked in fear and manifested in anger, where we expect others to “get to the fucking point and now.” And the stress or aggressive feelings often do not dissipate even when the “point” is reached – unless it is perceived as being “my point” or “my victory.”
When we are impatient, our context is quite obvious in our voice tone, body posture and eye contact, and this stimulates fight or flight reactions in others. This back-to-the-cave knee-JERK mechanism often puts men in a place where they would rather proactively act out because the “danger” might attack him first. And with all of the treachery we are bombarded with on social media and all of those who talk tough from the anonymity of cyberspace, we have insults and challenges being made that do not bring us to a place of tolerance or peaceful coexistence.
When I feel another person’s anger, I choose to view it as pain being expressed out of impatience. When I see anger expressed in others in ways that lead to violence, it is clear to me that that enactment is an admission of a failure to solve a problem through negotiation or persuasion.
By keeping PATIENT with eyes on the prize – remaining conscious of my peaceful coexistence with others goal – I am able to ask myself: “What can I do here to minimize the strife while not giving away the store (compromising my terms)?” Often that can be the simple statement: “What do you need from me?” When said in the proper tone of voice, miracles in harmony can be created.
When I get over wanting the other person/persons to “be me” and I look for baby step cobble stone points of view to stand on, suddenly the warmth of humanity seeps back into the picture. And if the other party shares the desire to better the situation he may offer up flagstones that will support cooperation.
There was a book I read a long time ago; “I’m OK; You’re OK” and that context has risen above the clumsy, often misused “I’m just a fucking jerk” to the place where I take charge of situations and add substance of cooperation toward collaboration and resonance.
The illusion that the world has always been and always will be a place of mortal conflict will last exactly as long as there are people who lack patience and compassion and who deny themselves the rich, powerful joy of forgiving others for not being “ME.”
When our default context is one where we work to find pathways to commonality each step forward – in a common context, no matter how small – the bad will melt away into a joyous place of excited anticipation. And there will be a hunger to use our deepest creatively to achieve something lasting and good.