How much time and in
how many ways do we devote our time and energy into showing that we have more of what matters than someone else does. For the last week or so in particular I have been really trying to pay attention to the ways that people have conflict with each other…. Particularly the way I have conflict with each other.
We point fingers at each other for being too rich, too poor, too female, too male, too white, too non-white, too much status, not enough status, being too smart, or not smart enough, too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny…. The list goes on and is really endless.
We are creatures who identify with others and as much as we want to stack up we really want our groups, whatever they might be, to be higher on the pecking order than other groups. Sometimes it seems like the most important thing in our lives is what circle we stand in and trying to make sure that others realize we have the best circle.
Our lives are about what one author called “power over.” Our measure of the quality of life is a vertical one. How high we are depends on “how right” we are on some criteria that defines our group or groups.
The same author also talks about what he calls “power under.” In this scheme the measure of life is horizontal. It is not based on fingers pointed, but hands reached out. Do you live horizontally or vertically?
Most of us are all too vertical. There is a prayer I quoted in another post that is perhaps a good way to end.
A father listens to his 6 year old daughter: “God please help the bad people to be better…. And if you can God while you are at it please help the good people to be nicer.” Words to think about.