Sometimes it is really difficult to make sense of the kinds of carnage we orchestrate for ourselves under the concept of getting even. How strong and compelling is the quest for revenge? Obviously, Friday’s news of a medical doctor toting an assault rifle hidden under his lab coat into a New York City hospital and opening fire on seven people defies explanation. Even more difficult to understand is the belief that the doctor perpetrating the crime didn’t know any of his victims. The former colleague that he was gunning for reportedly was not at the hospital.
Of course, the eleven-second melee at a Little Rock nightclub yesterday morning that injured 28 people (2 critically) is now thought to be gang related. Initial reports of the mass shooting suggested it was not a premeditated run of the mill dispute. Maybe it was simply the power of suggestion. The promotional video of the rapper showed a man pointing a gun at a camera. So who pulled the trigger? No one knows, but it is thought there were multiple people because the volley of gunfire came so fast. Reportedly, city officials are moving quickly to shut the club down. Will they be successful is quelling the violence? The shooting capped a violent week in Little Rock. In the previous nine days, Little Rock police responded to a dozen drive-by shootings.
On a far less dramatic scale, the people that I know who live with a short fuse on relational conflict aren’t likely to go packing heat to resolve the problem. They simply eliminate the source of contention from their lives by choosing to cut familial ties and eliminate friendships altogether. At face value, some would argue that they are right? Give it some thought before you agree.
Nothing is sadder to me than tossing the people who have been important in your life aside because of unresolved conflict or a perceived glitch in the relationship. I see it all the time. We have become a society of throwaway people. That is how we most often deal with conflict.
Family members and friends you should most love get eliminated because relationship building and maintenance is hard work. They get tossed out of your life simply because of a disagreement or dispute. It happens in families all of the time. For that matter, even long term friendships can be dislodged by a failure to not always march to the beat of the same drum or a perceived glitch that someone has been slighted or treated unfairly. Somehow when it comes to conflict resolution most folks come up shy on social skills training, conflict resolution, Christian values and understanding the importance of relationships for the long haul.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I threw in the concept of Christian values. Maybe I’m wrong, but even folks who should know better don’t. Most of us intuitively think we are exempt from the Scriptural mandate: “Love your enemies…do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” [Matthew 5:44].
Reportedly, a soldier was astonished when he heard General Robert E. Lee speaking favorably of a fellow officer. The soldier remarked: “General, the man you speak so highly of is one of your worst enemies. He never misses an opportunity to slander you.” General Lee replied: “Yes, I know, but I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me.”
President Abraham Lincoln is often identified as a role model in leadership. After being elected President, he chose his three most prominent rivals to serve in his cabinet. Choosing to set aside differences and build on strengths always supports the greater good.
Perhaps there was a method to his madness. I’ve heard it said: “Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.” In the process of doing so, fences get mended and enemies become friends.
We were created for connection. Yet, as a society we justify our disconnections by saying it is in our best interests. We don’t always get it right. Consequently, “we” and “they” lose out.
We’ve probably all heard the adage: “Let sleeping dogs lie”. Perhaps, that’s as good a place as any to start. Believe it or not, the concept is Biblical. “He that passes by, and meddles with strife belonging not to him, is like one that takes a dog by the ears” [Proverbs 26:17].
You know, when you hit the reset button on your computer, it provides an opportunity for a fresh start without going back through the quagmire of sorting out what went wrong that caused the computer glitch. Certainly open and honest communication is important in the context of relationships, but we often make hitting the reset button impossible because we want to rehash old hash and that seldom has a favorable outcome.
Why not embrace the concept of building on strengths? Let sleeping dogs lie. Move forward with embracing the best someone has to offer while providing the best you can offer.
All My Best!