Saturday, August 21, 2010

E Pluribus Unum & an Argument with My Dad

Tonight I tried to tell a friend I was "over" a past event. This idea was freeing: instead of tremendous pain, I told my friend, I remembered this past event with nostalgia, confusion, and anger. I actually used the word "anger." Quickly, I tried to change it to "frustration," but the stronger word stuck in my mind.

Later I recalled an argument I had with my dad when I was a teenager. I don't remember what the argument was concerning. We were both upset with each other and I remember my dad walking into the room where I was brooding. He said something to the following effect: "If you're going to be a pastor someday, you need to realize people get angry when they're hurt."

My father's statement didn't help the situation me, although I do not recall reacting verbally or visually to his statement. He implied he was angry because he was hurt by me. I became more upset when he didn't realize I was angry because I, too, was hurt.

My mind now drifts to polemics--when one person or group appears to be so opposite from another person or group that they appear to be like different poles on the same magnet. They are as opposite as perceivably possible, but they cannot stop from interacting with each other vehemently.

I suppose many people hurt when they understand their God being demeaned by a certain person's beliefs. From experience, I know those certain people can hurt in reaction to the other person's hurt. When you think my beliefs demean God, I hear you calling my concept of God just as impotent as you think I'm calling your concept of God. Perhaps both think the other's god is impotent. Perhaps neither do. (In the previous sentences, "god" connotes "concept/perception of that which is God, but cannot be contained by the word 'God.'" That is, we believe in god, but we worship God. Our theologies construct god, but all truth is God's truth.)

I have no analysis beyond the above observation from my father: "people get angry when they're hurt." Perhaps people get angry for other reasons, too. I'm sure you could trace all anger to a source other than hurt or you could trace all sources of anger to hurt. We can play semantics until we're blue in the face and worked our typing fingers to the bones.

People get angry. People get hurt. So many get angry and hurt about the same things about which we get angry and hurt. As with the poles of a magnet, those involved in polemics are much closer to their opponent than they realize. If only we can accept that bond instead of fighting against it. Poles belong with their opposite--they reach their potential in community with the Other, not in community with the same.

Community cannot be constructed out of the same. Community exists only in diversity. There is no unum without e pluribus.

I don't know how the argument with my dad resolved. I do know we are still different and still in a great relationship. Some things just need to be put in the past for good.

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