February 3, 2010

My three R’s of reconciliation…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , — sbj @ 7:24 am
8000 years or so ago, when I was 22 years old the movie Colors came out. It had the following scene in it, which, at the time, I thought was hilarious as well as insightful.
*audio is NSFW*
Today, at the ripe old age of 8022, I am finding new, and different, insight in it… if not as much hilarity.  In 1988, it was about women.  It was about taking my time, doing things right, and the results that can come from that.  In other words, it was a literal translation (somewhat ironic, because in the movie the translation was not direct, it was an analogy… go figure).
At any rate, tonight, as I sit here pondering any number of things, my mind brought me back to this scene and its lesson.  Specifically… don’t rush.  Make sure you know what you are doing. Make sure you are doing the right thing, for the right reasons, and make sure you are committed to your purpose.  Or, as I have said to my poor unfortunate son for years… “Think, then talk (or act).”
On my mind tonight, specifically, is reconciliation.  Jumping into a damaged, even destroyed, relationship and rooting around for answers, reasons, justifications, etc.
One of the things I have learned is that when a person enters the scene of a disaster, they will do one of three things: ravage, ransack or rebuild.  In general, rarely can anything good come of the first two and the third, typically, takes a lot of work.  Often, what begins as a rebuilding effort gradually regresses into one of the other two.
When I say ravage, I simply mean that by entering/re-entering the scene, more damage is done.  Emotionally, one or both parties are not yet ready to engage constructively.  They are hurt, angry and likely defensive; seeking an object for their frustration or scorn.  The carnage left over from a disaster (as defined by anything ranging from a short spat to the most bitter divorce) is always ripe with opportunities to fill this need.  Ravaging is by far the easiest and, of course, least constructive of ones options. And yet, how many times have i found myself in this mode, unleashing my personal angst upon the already ragged remains of the situation?
Ransacking, like looting, is a bit more opportunistic and at least has some (false) upside.  When you ransack, you feel like you are accomplishing something, you are taking something away from the situation.  You are finding the blame, the cause, or the reason for your troubles.  As you sift through the wreckage, you are able to cherry pick supporting evidence for why this mess is not your fault, or, more specifically, why it is the fault of someone else.  Ransacking makes you feel better.  However, in reality, it is nothing more than looting.  It is hollow and ultimately cannot maintain you.  Before long, you will be back, sifting through the remnants again, looking for another magic bullet or man on a grassy knoll. 
Rebuilding, however, can actually get you somewhere.  When you rebuild, you approach the situation with a problem solvers attitude.  As you make you way through the scene, you are not looking for reasons, but rather for opportunities.  Instead of a smoking gun, you seek a sturdy foundation on which to begin reconstruction.  In literal terms, you might begin building a case for why a person, legitimately and inadvertently, might have done you harm; and in doing so, you begin to create a path back to a healthy and stable environment.  As I have quoted (probably far too many times in this blog)… “Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes.  Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend.” You may not agree with what a person was thinking (by now, they may not either), but understanding it gives you the ability to understand how they might have done whatever it was that hurt you, without the requirement of them being a bad person.
After a disaster, people often talk in terms of picking up the pieces. The question is, once you start to do so, what are you doing to do with them?  Use them as weapons to create more destruction (ravage), cleave to them in an attempt to justify your discontent (ransack), or fashion them as the cornerstones of a new brighter future (rebuild).
This brings me back to the scene from above, because, it is also my belief that rebuilding takes effort, planning and discipline.  It is not a fools errand and cannot be rushed into.  You must be mentally ready to enter a rebuilding phase, and you must be committed to the job.  When things start to go wrong, and they will, you have to be able to take a step back and have a clear understanding of why you are doing this, and what you stand to gain.
If you can do that, you can forgo running down and ransacking the local store in favor of walking down, and rebuilding the entire town…

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