A Response to Opposing Narratives

I originally saw this at Religious Dispatch.  People of faith should be praying, considering, working, and praying:

The current military operations in Israel and the Gaza strip should disturb all people of faith. The only moral path to a solution between Israelis and Palestinians (Israeli Jewish/Muslim/Christian and Palestinian Muslim/Christian) will be dialogue and negotiation. This is a long and arduous path, but the faith that grounds our traditions can sustain the slow evolution of history. The current conflict is an outgrowth of over a century of opposing narratives and ideological differences that no military operations can resolve.

Our traditions exist to uphold the moral foundations for civilizations and as such we urge an end to the current violence. While we acknowledge the need for self defense, when the can of violence opens, as it has now, worms of vengeance and blood-feud crawl out. Then people begin to abandon the principles of justice and mercy upon which civilizations are founded. Instead they turn to more tribal urges, seeking retribution for past wrongs.

We believe the current violence crosses that line. At some point people cease looking for solutions and instead succumb to base human urges for violence. They crave the blood of the enemy to compensate for the pain of loss. This is the way of our animal instincts, the ethos of ancient tribes and clans who exist only to protect all within, while opposing all others. The teachings of our ancestors rose above that thinking long ago to build great civilizations. We believe that when we look to our texts and traditions we can rise above the narrative of suffering and victimization to find roads to healing and wholeness.

The Torah this week teaches of the “Cities of Refuge” (Numbers 35: 6-28) places where a person can flee after an accidental death or manslaughter in order so that relatives of the deceased cannot exact revenge. The one who flees must face criminal justice, and the City of Refuge serves as both a haven and prison for the man slaughterer while restricting the blood thirst of the avenger. The people living in Israel and Gaza can look at the current situation and see only murder and intentional killing, or they can see how decades of hatred breed spontaneous violence. In these heated emotions, our traditions call for cooling off, seeking refuge, and then finding a path to justice. Only through such systems can order and peace be restored.

Several verses from the Quran also give us reminders to work for the protection of life and how to respond with good and forgiveness in times of major challenge and conflict.

Read the statement here.

Fighting Fair

I’ve written a few posts about marriage.  I believe in marriage, in supporting people who are married and who want to be married.  One abiding question is: How do you not ruin a marriage?  Here is some helpful material from Victoria Costello over at Psychology Today.  She offers ten rules for fair fighting:

If you wish to avoid conflicts in your life, you should stay single, or find a very submissive partner. To deal with disagreements in a constructive way, you need to establish rules for fair fighting. Any rules you decide on should be tailored to your unique relationship. Someone who can’t tolerate a voice raised in anger (many people) is going need a rule that both partners use a normal tone of voice when fighting. Once you’ve agreed upon your rules, it’s a good idea to write them down.  Then both sign and date this document as you would any binding agreement.

However, before you begin to review these rules, there’s one principle you should understand and think about how it applies to you and your marriage. That is, the difference between emotions and reason in marital disagreements. In most human beings, emotions affect decision-makingmore than logic does. When a woman says “You don’t love me anymore,” she is offering an extreme emotional reaction, also called a “You message,” when someone attempts to put total responsibility for a problem on her partner. Most likely, the woman’s response is provoked by something to which she incorrectly attaches an extreme reaction. For example, she may be bitterly disappointed on February 14th when her husband fails to come home with a Valentine gift. What else might she say that would be more appropriate to the situation? How about, “I’m hurt that you didn’t acknowledge Valentine’s Day by giving me a token of your love.” This “I message” would be both reasonable and appropriate. Especially if, by expressing this feeling, it opens up the subject of gift giving for this couple to discuss, including what holidays they jointly choose to celebrate, and what compromises they settle on if they don’t see eye to eye. Finding harmony within a relationship requires that each partner deal first with his emotions and then for both to explore reasonable accommodations or compromises in the marriage – without making either right or wrong, or making the relationship subject to the emotional swings of either partner.

The following ten rules for fair fighting are designed to help you create the boundaries needed to help you make room for openly acknowledging important emotions that may be lurking behind your behaviors (sometimes feelings you are unconscious of), but then invite in reason and compromise. Boundaries – another word for ground rules – are a safety net. If you cannot provide this safety net on your own, you will need an outside mediator to facilitate those disagreements that tend to generate deep emotional responses and destabilize your marriage.

Rule 1: Keep it private

Fighting by a married couple in front of other people is embarrassing to those around you and undermines your relationship. A sharp criticism or negative outburst made in front of other people is often a power play by the more verbally skilled spouse, or whichever one does not mind theembarrassment. By fighting in front of in-laws or friends, you risk giving them the impression that your relationship is in perpetual strife. This can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You also may get uninvited opinions on the issue under discussion. This will only roil the situation and make agreement more difficult. Resist the impulse to ask others’ opinions on your marital disagreements; certainly never call for a vote from whoever happens to be nearby. It may sound silly, but this is unfortunately not unusual in a dysfunctional relationship.

If a fight erupts in front of other adults and especially children make an immediate agreement to handle it privately at another time.

To finish reading click here.  I wonder if you’d add anything.

Question For The Week

Am I wrong for despising the pacifier?  I still remember that we had taken it from the boy, safely removed it from his mouth, back in January.

He got passed it.  He was beyond it.  He was fine.  Then he got sick.  And Dawn gave him the thing.  It was a moment of weakness probably.  I don’t think I was home.  I don’t think I found out until some time the next day.  I have a rule about not going into his room when he’s down for bed.  So I wouldn’t have found the thing stuck in his mouth until he popped his head up above the blanket flapping over his crib, his cheeks and lips folding up into a smile I couldn’t see because the white circle.

“Take that out,” I said, using my fathering voice.  He took it out.  And that started a ritual for us.  He’d wake up and call for us.  If I came in, I’d tell him to remove the pacifier.  He would.  One day it turned into the nonverbal gesture of my finger falling from my mouth.  And then, later, I wouldn’t even need to do that.  He’d see me turn the corner to his room that has no door, and he’d remove it when he saw me.  He still does it.  If he has it in his mouth and I’m around, the thing comes out without request.

I’m good at holding on to small memories like that—that being my wife returning the plug to the boy.  I’m a little too good at it actually.  I bring it up from time to time.

I say that it was a mistake to give it to him.  I say that I didn’t give it to him and that I’ve never actually given it to him since we took it from him, except for twice maybe, even though I don’t physically remove the thing from his crib.

I’m good at keeping a commitment.  And every time I see that pacifier, it’s a symbol of a commitment discarded.  He doesn’t need it.  I know he doesn’t because I’ve put him to bed without just to get proof for those women who I love and who love him.  If he drops it out of the bed, I pick him up and tell him to get it himself.  When he wakes up at night, crawling and scraping for the thing, I’ll put him on the floor and tell him to walk around the bed and get it.  “No light,” I say.  I have to include some punishment for him waking me up.  And he will get it.

Am I wrong?  It’s his pacifier.  I got rid of mine years ago.

Since January we’ve had these false attempts to take the thing.  But the grandmothers got in with Dawn to prevent success.  They did their own thing, when their own thing was secretly my wife’s thing.  They all colluded to keep my son’s mouth shut with a mini plastic nipple, making it a “necessity” for bedtime.  As I’ve said to them and to you in the paragraph above, it’s not a necessity.  He’s got them fooled.

At least they abide by the law I laid, I told myself.  “He only gets it when he’s in the bed.”  Success.  It’s interesting how I’ve started redefining my words since the boy came along.