Sunday, November 18, 2012

Peanut Butter by the Spoon and Synergy

Synergy, from

noun, plural syn·er·gies.
1   1.  the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism

I have been thinking lately on the word, synergy, and it's ramifications for us as a world cultural. The mind works in mysterious ways, and mine, I think is especially mysterious sometimes... :-) Read on, and you may agree with me on this.

Nothing can highlight a lack of synergy like a US Presidential Election. I find myself weary of these events, of listening to the back and forth banter than gets nastier and nastier all the time, of reading facebook posts on either side. I'm glad it's all past, this year, at least.

It's not that I don't have an opinion, or that I don't vote, I do, and always have. I'm just tired of hearing the increasing negativity on both sides of the argument. Of any argument, for that matter.

Here in New York State, there is a major battle over gas drilling and hydro-fracking, and it's a bitter one. Again, not that I don't have an opinion, even a strong one. But I'm weary of the bashing that goes on. Both sides are guilty of this. 

I see the same things between fighting couples...the need to make the other party wrong is so strong. I have been guilty of that myself, and I'm really taking a hard look at that kind of behavior these. Because it doesn't do any good.

I had an epiphany, of sorts, several weeks ago. I was at work, Lucy napping on the couch, everyone else out of the office at the moment. Hungry, I went to the kitchen, and finding nothing easy to eat, grabbed a spoon and the jar of peanut butter and began to eat a spoonful. At that moment, through the back door came the good friend of the man I work for. I know him only to say hello to, but I also know he's a vocal  opponent on the "other side," of the hydrofracking issue.

Mouthful of peanut butter, spoon in hand, jar right in front of me, my eyes sheepishly met his and I smiled around my mouthful. He smiled back and asked for his friend. Around the peanut butter I mumbled that he had stepped out and where he was likely to be found. He thanked me and left.

That was it. Locals would recognize his name if I mentioned it here, and, in fact, his name was mentioned in disparaging tones at an event I attended several weeks later. In the past I might have joined into this conversation, but this time I held my tongue. For in that moment, perhaps because I was wrapped in my own peanut butter induced vulnerability, perhaps because it was a quiet day and lately I have a quiet heart,  I looked into his eyes, and I saw him. Truly saw him. Not as an opponent, as someone who was wrong and misguided, but just as a human being who wants to thrive, just as I do. Who wants his family to thrive, just as I do. 

The only difference between us is the way we think we'll get there. And I think, perhaps, we've both been wrong.

I no longer believe that if my side "wins," then all will  be well. Because another battle is just around the corner. In the words of Albert Einstein

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them. 

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. "

At this point in my life, I firmly believe that until we soften ourselves enough to admit that the other side has a right to thrive too, the ugliness just continues on, and the battle isn't really won, even if our side is victorious this time around. 

It doesn't mean that we necessarily alter our beliefs, but we can refuse to participate in ugly actions and words that vilify others, even if they seem to deserve it. And we can, even it we don't see it now, be open to the possibility that a different solution altogether exists. And be more interested in finding it than in being right.