War and worry: Is there a solution?

Bad news seems to rain upon the world these past few weeks. A plane shot down is frightening. Israel and Palestine in the midst of war unsettles us. The Islamic Caiphate telling Christians they must pay a tax or be killed doesn't warm our hearts. Republicans and Democrats condemning each other over almost every issue create feelings of distrust in our government. The sense of cooperation, dialogue and harmony in our world seems to be an elusive goal. Then we have the strong viewpoints over what to do with children crossing our borders to seek asylum as they flee from their own countries to find safety and a better way of living in the United States. Everything seems fearful and confusing these days. Is there a solution for all of these conflicts? Yes, of course there is a solution but none of us knows what the solution will be in the political arena. Usually those solutions bring out future disasters. When one country is disciplined in such a manner as to feel humiliated, persecuted or bullied, it creates a tension that becomes a starting point for the next war. When one person becomes humiliated, bullied and controlled, the beginning of hidden resentments creates a tension that will lead to a future conflict. First it will be an emotional war and then later an all-out physical war. If anyone studies history this principle will always be right in front of our face. War starts from hurt feelings. The more weapons each country has the more physical power is used to alleviate hurt feelings. This happens in our own personal lives. Whenever we feel emotionally hurt by another person our first reaction is to retaliate with hurtful words. Hurtful words and actions set off more hurtful words and actions. When we look at the conflicts we have had in our own personal lives, we will realize that it first began with feeling hurt and then a response that hurt the other person. This is one of the weaknesses of being human. We don't want to embrace our pain. We want to react to our pain. We don't want to understand the pain of others but we want others to understand our pain. The power of war arises from an unwillingness to embrace pain and dialogue with someone else. We want to first blame rather than explain. We want to condemn rather than understand. Life itself seems to be like a courtroom, deciding by a vote who is right and who is wrong. It has become a way of life to look at life in terms solely of right and wrong; that is, the right and wrong according to the way we see things. You and I may not solve the war in the Middle East. We may not bring peace to Ukraine. We may not get Muslims and Christians to live in harmony in the same country. But we can create harmony and peace in our personal lives. Our compassion and willingness to express our pain to others instead of condemning others can create a dialog and harmony. This becomes a basis for peace in our personal relationships. The basis for peace starts from my willingness to get my "Big Ego" out of the way. Our "Egos" can become so immersed in being right that we hinder ourselves from another way of seeing things. My ego can block me from admitting when I am wrong. I can be afraid to let others see my brokenness and my mistakes. The denial of my own mistakes and limitations cloud my perception of reality. This misperception can cause me to ignore the natural and human feelings of empathy and compassion. I can then build a huge edifice of rules and regulations that will justify insensitivity toward the poor, hungry and broken people of the world, especially in my own surroundings. Whenever my own welfare becomes more important than sharing what I have with the rest of the world, I separate myself from my brothers and sisters of this planet. I can become xenophobic in my attitudes toward other people, cultures, nationalities and nations. I can become an isolationist, personally and politically. It becomes a convenient road to follow but it becomes a road of tension and fear. There is an appropriate saying... "perfect love casts out all fear." When my ego justifies self-protection over compassion for the world, I become so worried about myself that I simply forget about you. This happens in all relationships within families, among friends and among groups and countries. It is the part of being human that we must consistently challenge within ourselves. The fear of insecurity can overcome the natural human feelings of compassion and care. Any person and any country who can appreciate who God is should always be filled with compassion and love for everyone. In my theological, psychological and spiritual training, I have always been inspired that genuine love is unconditional, patient and persistent. When love is willing to suffer pain and return criticism and hate and war with kindness, compassion and love, it becomes the most powerful ingredient of peace and harmony. This challenges the false viewpoint in a world that seems to make God an avenger and a punishing power. For many it is easier to see God as a person who returns evil with punishment and condemnation than a God who overcomes evil by love and compassion. Criticism is weakened by compassionate understanding. Persecution is disarmed by persistent caring and warmth. All of this can happen so positively in our own personal lives if we stay the course. If we stay the course of love, compassion and understanding in our personal lives, we can forge a peaceful path for the world to follow and understand. But it first starts right now, at this moment with the next person we see and experience. But of course the biggest rationalization we will tell ourselves and others will tell us is that this is too Utopian or too Idealistic, or just unrealistic. And then the tension begins again. So, I think I will take the "less traveled" road of love and compassion and consistent love. It may shorten my life. I may suffer for it. I may be criticized and condemned for it. That will be fine because I will experience peace within myself and leave behind me a peaceful presence that will be remembered. I think I would like to be remembered as a peaceful and loving person toward everyone. This I believe will make my part of the world more loving and peaceful. Whatever happens, I will feel a sense of love and peace. It can be a glorious way to live and give hope to others. Let's go on this journey together. Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com. Published: Mon, Jul 28, 2014