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Pay Attention

pay attention

Great things happen when people pay attention. Communication becomes better. An understanding of what is going on is established. Everything that is said is said after some thought. No waste of time, no bull, just feedback you can rely on.

If only people did that, think before they speak or judge. Life would not only be easier but also more fulfilling.

But they don’t. They make up their minds before they listen. They know better than anyone, even when they are talking about someone else’s life.

Many a relationship go under like  this. Friendships wither away. Business partnerships flounder. Marriages explode, or implode, because the individuals involved become too heavy around one another, or too fresh, and begin to judge on the go, without stopping and thinking things out first. Either nobody compromises, butting heads at will, or they apply misguided notions of total compromise, trying to meet each other exactly down the middle, which of course satisfies no one.

Communication thus falters and the connection cracks. Everyone ends up unhappy, all because they refuse to read the situation, insisting on playing it in a way that attends to their emotional snags rather than to a resolution.

Pragmatism. Once again it has taken the back seat to ideology. The theorists and moralists are trying to solve the world’s lack of communication by telling everyone to strive for perfect equality, which of course doesn’t work. Add to that the tendency of people to not pay attention in the first place, and we end up with a broken society.

By Calvin and Hobbes

There are practical ways to bridge the gaps and get things functioning again. Sometimes both parties must adapt to get over a problem, any problem, finding middle ground. If it is necessary to entertain new ideas, then thinking differently and trying out new things is what must be done, in an arrangement of mutual give and take.

Other times one of the parties has to adjust around the other, depending on their relative strength, pull, or ability. This may involve one side giving way more ground than its counterpart, tending to the individual strengths at play. Recognizing each person’s attributes in relation to one another, and acting on them accordingly, is tantamount to efficient relationships. Not acknowledging one’s strengths and splitting everything down the middle just-because can be detrimental to a dynamic. There are occasions in which one has to take charge, while the other needs to assume a supporting role, because some situations work out better that way.

Equality, as they preach it, is a bunch of baloney. Splitting everything down the middle makes no sense in the long run.

The equality gurus scream bloody murder at the thought. It is sacrilege not to compromise in reciprocal ways, to have one person adjust to the other asymmetrically, they claim. But they are wrong. Equality, as they preach it, is a bunch of baloney. Splitting everything down the middle makes no sense in the long run.

The notion used to make sense, under different circumstances. Psychotherapy first came up with the idea of symmetrical rapprochement as it pushed back the dark veil of machismo and racism over the past decades, and it worked wonders. Insights on how we must all compromise came to light, and they were valid, useful and beneficial to society at the time.

But by now we are savvy enough to see the bigger picture. The rise against oppression has been successful. The world is not perfect, but headway has been made. We have established the need for everyone to start off on the same pedestal, with the same privileges as everyone else, giving progress the necessary momentum to maintain its push forward.

In the meantime, we have also realized that as time goes by, people exhibit different attributes, distinguishing themselves in a variety of fields. They begin to develop certain skills and preferences, separating themselves from one another. To each our own, and all together, we work in tandem, creating something bigger, fancier and more elaborate. Forcing everyone to split their capacities in half so that they may meet someone else down the middle in order to entertain a misunderstood version of equality does not do anyone any good. It holds the world back, giving fodder to those who don’t give a shit to go about their business without paying attention to anyone or anything.

In other words we have to allow people to excel. Any problems encountered along the way can be addressed through better communication as well as the willingness to play into each other’s strengths. We don’t need to recite the mantra ‘meet you down the middle’ anymore. Now we can afford to allow room for ability to exert itself, to take charge, to lead, while support is given where it is necessary, when it is required, with the aim to produce an outcome. Be we male or female, black or white, young or old, it is time we stopped compromising for the sake of compromising and let the situations play out according to people’s strengths, not weaknesses.

That means thinking before we make up our minds, assessing a situation based on what works, and making moves that lead to an outcome, all the while being driven by what one can achieve, not what one can’t. Psychotherapy may have served a noble cause over these past decades, helping the unable and oppressed to rise up and find their place in the world, but we cannot let this ideology forge the way ahead. Moving forward happens when we keep up with the front runners, not when we hover around the injured. Making the able feel less able so that the less able will not feel so bad about themselves is like amputating the runners so that the crippled will not feel out of place. Life doesn’t work that way.

If it did, we wouldn’t be here talking about it. We would still be amoeba, floating in the sea, bound the limitations of those who break down at the slightest change in circumstance. All equal, all stationary, and two billions years behind.

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