The Perfect Metaphor for PeaceThere's a question that arises in nearly all marriages or long-term relationships. The answer to that question has caused divorces, violence - and occasionally - murder. Clearly, it's a subject that arouses passionate responses.
On the surface, it's a simple question. A cursory look suggests the answer lies in an either/or response - either voluntarily perform one action or its opposite. The response is so simple it can be accomplished in less than a second. It's a trifling question that, absent the emotion it carries, shouldn't rise any higher than the most minor of annoyances in the pecking order of mundane travail.
However, the question often marks the boundaries of a relationship and since it does, takes on an importance far beyond it's simple exterior. It's a magnet that attracts all manner of slights - real and imagined. It touches on issues of respect, fairness, and sacrifice. It not only defines who you are, but also how you demand that others be.
A Trait to Which Humans are Ill-Adapted
Unfortunately, a successful resolution requires the ability to view the same situation from both sides - a trait humans are ill-adapted to. It requires you let go of a trivial argument for the sake of peace and harmony. To answer the question you must resist the impulse to pump it up beyond recognition by making it about far more than the simple, original issue. It requires the ability to see your own actions as critically as the person you oppose in order to stop internecine warfare before it begins. It requires one of the combatants to offer the tiniest olive branch for the sake of something far larger than the question.
The question is all of these things - simple, amazingly complex, easy, and difficult - all at the same time. But it also represents one more thing that carries civilization-altering importance - it is a perfect metaphor for why the world is the way it is. One simple act. One simple demonstration of respect. One tiny inch of ground given. One easy resolution offered. Any of these address the root cause of so much of the tumult in our relationships and our world - and yet mankind invariably overlooks the solution exactly because of its simplicity. It's an attitude that prizes the complex over the simplistic and becomes much the worse for all of us.
Plumbing for Peace
What is this question that is so simple and universal all at once?
If the prevailing view is that a man should lower the toilet seat, why is there no room for the premise that a woman should leave it up?
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, March 20, 2007