AND Find Alternative Solutions

November 10th, 2013

 In honor of Veterans Day, I find myself reflecting on what we celebrate when we honor veterans. Without any reference to violence, war, or the loss of human life, I am struck by our orientation towards fighting for freedom, what we say we stand for in our constitution, and values we claim to hold in our country. Historically, we have been quick to take up arms, define others whom we perceive to threaten our liberty and way of life as enemies and congratulate our selves as heroes. I wonder what would happen if we shifted from labeling complex situations simplistically and stopped focusing on opposing sides of issues.

In many ways we fight life itself, make it more complicated than it needs to be and then feel overwhelmed. Many people I meet today act like embattled warriors in the fight for emotional health, rejuvenation of energy, reconnection with whatever is important to them, or the fulfillment of expectations they hold of others. AND I wonder what could change if we stopped to ask ourselves why we are fighting what our hearts tell us AND why we are so impassioned about “being right” that we battle others who disagree with us? Are we so unconscious that we forget that life flows, that there are many ways to arrive at solutions that are beneficial for all involved, and that if we removed our egos from our fight-response, we might see clearly an alternative use of our creativity and energy to arrive at a desired end rather than fighting??

As we celebrate those who have sacrificed a great deal to preserve liberty and free the oppressed, perhaps we could also consider what other means we might employ to stand for our truths, appreciate others’ truths, and create a more compassionate world where fighting and war give way to less violent solutions to perceived wrongs. We need the capacity to live in ambiguity until the full picture becomes clearer. That clarity is not served by labeling black and white positions, such as ally and enemy. Rather, we are invited to see the full picture and in the context of multiple perspectives, remind ourselves who we choose to be and what desired outcome we seek in order to allow space for more creative solutions than fighting to preserve desired ends.

Now is a good time to remember the value of using and to connect different perspectives, instead of but. The conscious use of and allows us to stop creating opposition by labeling responses as either good-bad, ally-enemy, just-unjust, and the like in order to separate one side from the other, and to thereby create the conditions for a fight. We have fought many wars as a country, smaller entities, and some as individuals. We can acknowledge the bravery and historical context that made such responses critical to liberties achieved AND still choose to find alternatives to fights and war as we move forward together.

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