One of my favorite stops while tromping around Greece this past summer was the amazing Acropolis Museum in Athens. This wonderful frieze from the Parthenon captures the battle between Poseidon and Athena to become the patron deity of the city. Hint: Athena won.
It also reminds me how ancient and entrenched is our view of how conflict is resolved – which is generally by marshaling our arguments (or our warriors) and fighting it out until the victor and the vanquished are clear.
Pick up today’s news and you will see that very little has changed in 2500 years.
And yet. Some of us continue to believe that humanity IS evolving, and that if we can manage to stick around long enough, systemic change in how we manage difficult situations, strong emotions and differing desires will take hold.
You can be a part of that psycho/spiritual/social evolution now.
In doing so you can not only greatly improve the quality of your own life, you can be a part of the movement towards that evolution. More than ever, we need people who are willing to stand on the cutting edge of “Becoming the change we want to see,” as Gandhi famously put it.
There is nothing better you can do for the world and to make your own life as healthy as possible.
Winning is losing, in the end, because it only sets up the next battle. If what we want is a human community that values and works for the good of all, we will need an approach to conflict resolution that values everyone’s needs. When tensions are building, we will need to genuinely seek as an act of enlightened self-interest the best possible resolution for all.
What makes that perspective possible is committing to not giving away our own interests either! We also are part of the human community (read: family, work group or congregation) where the conflict is happening. Our needs and feelings matter – and so do those of others. We know this theoretically, but living into it can be tricky. For the most part, we have simply never learned how.
Shifting to genuinely wanting the best resolution for all the stakeholders in a situation is black belt spiritual work. But possible! My work is a spiritual director to individuals and couples and my consulting work to congregations focuses on acquiring the concrete tools and the inner capacity to do this. In the moments when we get there, it’s unbelievably rewarding.
What are the questions and challenges that arise for you when you think about shifting into a mindset for problems solving in which everyone’s needs, feelings and perspectives matter? Send me your comments and questions, and I’ll address them in future posts.
With You on the Path,