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Hey watch this!

For your viewing pleasure:

Us Against Them?

I’ve been solicited for my opinion on a video that has recently gone viral. Here it is:


I liked it, and I agree with its sentiments. I like the emphasis of spirituality over systemic rules. I also think the video was well done and I appreciate the artistic presentation. I very much enjoyed this video.

I do, however, hold against it that it’s tearing down a straw man. I’ve noticed this a lot lately: a lot of people attacking religion…but nothing from religion in return. I’ve never known someone to argue the other side of this argument! Where are all of the “pro-religiosity” folks that we are rallying against? I appreciate and support people wanting to revive and contribute to the systems they live in. I suppose, if we must, we can create a straw man to rally against, but I think this is just setting people up for disappointment: we’ll never triumph over our imaginary foe. In my experience, it is better to simply affirm what is good. It’s usually not necessary to point out what is wrong in order to point out what is right.

This brings up another issue: if creating an enemy is usually not helpful for the development for one’s argument, then what is it helpful for? I propose that any action, including manufacturing an enemy, is an attempt to meet a personal need. I wonder where these videographers would claim their affirmation or self-worth normally comes from?

Conflict

The relationship between conflict and friendship can be a difficult one to tackle. As I’m sure many of you have heard, friends can “agree to disagree.” This is not helpful.

The implication, and it’s an easy one to believe, is that true connection with those we love and care for requires agreement. The phrase, “agree to disagree,” suggests that, even when conflict is irresolvable, we can still agree on some higher lever and therefore be friends. Wrong.

“Let’s agree to disagree.” 
These guys are just burying things that 
need to be expressed (but in a helpful way).

Let’s just be straight here: conflict is uncomfortable. Furthermore, it strains relationships and oftentimes plants a seed that can grow into atrocious violence (e.g. The Holocaust, ethnic cleansing in Sudan, the US Civil War, and other crimes not sanctioned by governments). When I disagree with my wife, for example, the tension in the room is almost tangible (ask her if you don’t believe me)!

No, neither ignoring or glossing over the tension is ever a good idea. It won’t go away, and it usually blows up in your face later. It is better to ensure that, when conflict arrises, I can respond well. Some would call this, “keeping my side of the street clean.” If I am centered, then someone can lean on me without compromising my position. If someone is upset with me, I can take it, even give way to them – apologize, concede, bow out, etc….

Now I’m not saying that strained or broken relationships simply shouldn’t hurt. On the contrary, acknlowledging the pain, I can recieve it as such without allowing it to become a threat.

Conflict will continue to escalate if
I allow myself to feel threatened.

When I know that everything I need comes from God, then I can be selective about what I allow in. When a friend expresses gratitude, I am grateful and accept that with grace, but I’m also ok without it! When a friend criticizes or flings hateful words at me, I can allow those words to pass right through me without letting go of a genuine concern for her or him.

In a nutshell: Because I get what I need from God, I’m ok. If I’m ok, then I can then be available to others no matter their condition. Anger, happiness, despair, contempt, etc. None of it enters me unless I allow it. And I need none of it.

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