April 27    

Today's quotation:

In any conflict, we can defend ourselves or we can learn.  Defense has made the world unlivable.  What would happen if we chose to learn instead?  Instead of saying, "You frighten me," what if we said, "You interest me"?

Leslie Black

Today's Meditation:

In most cultures, much more value is placed upon the person or group that comes out "victorious" whenever conflict arises.  We tend to see the victors as stronger and more capable, and we tend to trust them more.  But with any victory comes a loser, and a lost opportunity to learn more about other ways of looking at the world.

If we don't feel defensive all the time, there's no need to defend ourselves constantly.  If someone insults me and I see the insult as a reflection of that person rather than something I have to defend myself against, I'll have the chance to learn just what about the person has led him or her to insult me.  And as I learn more about such causes in people's lives, I can learn better how to help such people get past stages in their lives in which they feel they need to insult others in order to "build up" their own self-esteem.

Defense is a reaction to which we don't tend to put much thought.  Defense is the easiest way to respond to conflict, and the easiest way of anything rarely is the best way.  If we choose to learn about whatever it is that's threatening us, be it disease, other people, the unknown, change, or anything else, we can help ourselves to grow in ways that we couldn't imagine otherwise.

And as we learn more, we also may become better teachers.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things do you find threatening?  Why do they frighten you?

How do you tend to react when you feel threatened?  Where do those reactions originate?

Why do our societies value victories against threats rather than taking non-defensive approaches to solving conflict?

For further thought:

One aspect of this process which I am naming “the good life” appears to be a movement away from the pole of defensiveness toward the pole of openness to experience.  The individual is becoming more able to listen to him or herself, to experience what is going on within him or herself.  One is more open to feelings of fear and discouragement and pain, and is also more open to feelings of courage, and tenderness, and awe.

Carl R. Rogers



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