All of us have habits. We can’t help it. With them we need not engage awareness. Nor consult thought or experience or others. In short we need not choose. So we don’t. We continue sleeping away our lives deploying our legal opiate, our defense to the fierceness of daily life. Habits are perilous.
When I provided conflict resolution services to individuals and organizations there were always specific questions asked: Are you biased? Are you impartial? will you remain impartial? neutral?
I responded: I am never neutral! I am always biased. I stand on the side of human dignity. The side of decency. I respect everyone who is a party to these issues, these conflicts and honor your dignity. I do so with my states, my presence, my thinking, my speech and actions, and the models and processes I use.
There were also clusters of unarticulated questions: most unconscious. Some not. Always communicated though not in words. They included: • Am I safe with you? (Will you protect me from those on the other side? from myself?) • Am I safe from you? (Will you protect me from you?) • Will you see me? (Can you see who I am? the one behind my fears and these circumstances?) • Are you honestly sensitive to my own, and our collective plight? my and our needs? (Do you respect life? Do you love humanity? Me?) • Can, and will you help the others see me? (Can you help me see myself?) • Can, and will you help the others remember that I have place? that I belong? • Can, and will you help me remember that I have place? belonging? • If these processes capsize, do you have the will and capacity to save me? the others? • Can we go beyond we/they? us and them? (Can you help us with this?) • Can I stop fearing difference? (Though I like what is like me, am I safe with and from difference?) • Can you further the mending of my heart?
This is asking so very little of ourselves – in any of our moments. Really, it is! Though we are loath to admit it, choice is ours in each moment. We can do things differently moment to moment.
There are impediments of course to such kindnesses. To being gracious.
We can however develop the capacities to override the momentum of our obstructive bents. For starters we can: • respect and love Life. • define ourselves by our grandeur rather than our foibles. • know the value – in our raw experience – of being compassionate. Gracious. Kind. • practice self-disciplined and relaxed awareness – presence. • override the embodiment of another’s habits, those we have mistaken for our own. • act graciously, unfolding the compassionate intelligence extant in the center of our genuine natures. • Be just. Decent. Powerful. Stand strongly. Give the moment what it asks,without flinching. Never injuring intentionally.
Am I naive? Perhaps! This however does not invalidate this proposal. There are other ways of being and doing. Life affirming ones.
Remember the line from the American poet Mary Oliver? “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”