Mutual Respect and Care

Dr. Ken Larsen

In this goofy world of ours there are many conflicting ideologies, belief systems and opinions that get in the way of our mental health and happiness.

I find it helpful to remember from time to time that opinions are like belly buttons.  We all have one.

I also find it helpful to realize that I have inherited many of the belief systems that form my opinions.  I’m finding that I want to look at these inherited beliefs to see how they fit with life in today’s world before I blindly plant the flag.

The older I get the more I appreciate the wisdom of Socrates and his often quoted pronouncement that “the unexamined life in not worth living.”

In a world where conflict seems to be the order of the day, what can we do?  One thing I’m learning to do is to step back, follow Socrates’ wisdom, get some time and distance on the situation and then respond based on a choice rather than a conflict enhancing reaction. 

Throughout the ages human conflict has often brought us to a form of logjam where we get stuck.   Our reaction has usually been to plant some dynamite and blow it apart.  Going to war would be one example of dynamite in the logjam.

Is there another way?  Rather than dynamite, how about raising the level of the river so that the logs in the logjam can float free? 

We can do this by educating ourselves on the issues behind our conflicts.  As I’ve done this I have concluded that “education is our progress from cocksure ignorance to thoughtful uncertainty.”

In our educated uncertainty we can look to something we have in common with one another that will help us avoid the logjam.  That something is our humanity.

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JFK said it as well as anyone I know:  “So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

Finally, I believe that we can respect and care for one another even if we don’t agree.  What do you think?

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