We have limited means to communicate connection between souls. We have words, body language and actions. And the parity between those three are how we are judged and integrity shown. The closer the three communications match in a way that we understand, the more we connect with the other. I strongly believe, therefore, that one of our greatest responsibilities to the people who are in our daily lives is to make it safe to speak. It’s become one of my deepest fascinations with people-watching, to see how many people crave honesty and respect and yet make it impossible for those very attributes to be voiced in their presence. It’s not enough to say that honesty and respect is what we want to hear. It has to be made possible and kept sacrosanct in every possible future from then on.
People always look at me sceptically when I say that I try not to say anything in anger or joy which I may regret later. I try, although I waiver as we all do at times, to hold to the truth of the issue. I try not to push buttons for the sake of hurting someone and I try not to over-promise in a moment of happy abandon. I try my hardest to not be led into a slanging match, no matter how much of what comes my way is designed to push me there. Sure, I can be clumsy and I can be hellishly wrong, but I genuinely aim to avoid inflicting pain with my responses, verbal or otherwise.
To me, an argument is pain enough as it is. To some, arguing is but another way to get a point across, any potential insult is just shrapnel – unintentional and therefore inconsequential collateral damage. To some, speaking with venom is just an extension of an emotion and therefore legitimated in the moment. To me, in an ideal world, arguments (as they will happen on occasion) should be utterly short and only superficial flare ups, never used as a vehicle to throw an important issue up for air nor a constant whipping post for old niggles. I understand that on any given day, there may well be two people who are inanely arguing over something. That’s life for some. But it’s hard to understand trying to resolve anything positive when you are speaking at bat or dog pitch. Some people seem fascinated by my logic.
In all spheres of relationships, we all ask for two things: respect and honesty. We don’t always need people to love or like us. We don’t always need people to agree with our perspective, after all, no-one else sees the world exactly as we do. But we do want people to be honest with us and to respect where we are coming from. And we do need to be able to be vulnerable somewhere, to exist without masks and armour and walls, naked in front of a few souls.
So if we open up and our heart-felt concerns and issues are dismissed, ridiculed or flung back at us with a new agenda, how are we supposed to stay honest? And if, when people compassionately show us an ugly truth or a beautiful lie, we respond from a point of defence, then how can we expect others to learn which you need to hear and when? The responsibility is two-fold: to gently hear what the other is trying to communicate and to speak from yourself with a softness that you expect in return. No
I’d never advocate tolerating that which is beyond tolerance. Nor does it mean sugar-coat everything to one inch of a lie. But we have to help each other. Help the truth to sit in safe hands. Avoid inflicting pain under the guise of any emotion. Warn people when they are close to thresholds instead of letting them march readily over and then gun them down mercilessly. Remember we are all innately fallible and fragile and, with those we trust, we should be able to remain that way somewhere, with those chosen someones.