Hostage

Communication is at the heart of every good relationship.  Some sort of dishonesty is often at the core of the collapse of many relationships. Being able (and more importantly, willing) to share thoughts, emotions, motivations is crucial in fostering healthy and stable relationships.

Our ability to deal with disputes in any relationship is partially determined by how open and honest we are. If we have been dishonest, we assume dishonesty in others. If we have withheld, we assume others have as well. Simple disputes can become monumental, destructive.

Relationships work best when they are collaborative. I am leery of the word compromise as it entails giving something up to get something, leaving both parties unhappy. This is not to argue that sacrificing is necessarily bad, but when the  base motivation is forcing something you want from someone else, I question the sincerity of the bargain.

Something that has never worked well (in the history of all relationships) is hostage taking. By this, I mean holding something back in order to motivate others. Yet, as a parent, I have done this time and again. “I am taking away your-toys, computer, phone, etc- until you conform to my standards.”  What has almost always worked better-when a loss of privilege is associated with behavior. “You need to do these things. If you fail to do these things, this is the consequence.”  This functions well enough in a parent/child relationship, but not so much when dealing with other adults.

I would never, ever (I can’t  say ever and never enough here) try to get my way with my wife by threatening her, withholding from her, in any way. I would hope I would act the same in any adult relationship, whether it be work related or with friends and family.

Yet when we look at governments around the world, this is precisely the way they interact with each other and often, with their citizens. Honest, open, reasonable debate is rare, replaced by petty fighting, name calling, and most disgustingly, hostage taking. Persuading with reason has been replaced by name calling, vilification and cruelty. Too often, political leaders hold figurative swords over the heads of their opponents, demanding what they call compromise, but is actually surrender. Disagreements are not longer merely ideological. They are battles between imagined absolutes. Unfortunately, while the absolutes are illusory, the disputes often lead to very concrete consequences for people.

If instead of this ridiculousness, we treated each debate, each interaction as  between people who cared for each other, most of this could be avoided. We would share our ideas openly, listening to each other, finding common ground and focusing our attention there.

Again, it comes back to love.  If love is our motivation, our pettiness and cruelty vanish. When love guides our actions, we rarely make choices that hurt others.

And we never (again, ever, ever) hold things hostage from those we love.

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About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

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