I’ve been thinking a lot about civility and getting along lately. As long as I have had this blog I have had Stanley Fish’s “Why We Can’t All Just Get Along” listed on my “Essential Reading” page.
I know better than to think we can all just get along. We can, however, do better than we are doing right now.
On one of my favorites podcasts, Mars Hill’s, Rob Bell mentioned, about a year ago, that there are cultures in the world where the older one is, the more flexible one becomes.
My body, especially my right hamstring right now, would like to consider applying to join one of those cultures.
To keep up my running, which I do for sanity, stress relief, and fitness, I have come to terms with the truth that I must stretch; I have to work on my flexibility.
I am increasingly feeling like I ought to do this with spiritual and political matters as well. (Not that I accept that there is a hard and fast distinction between “spiritual” and “political,” but that is for another post) I want to learn to listen to what people are saying more in their terms than in my own. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that attributing motive to people I am in relationship with is unfair and too easily does harm. I can see from news shows and newspapers that the same is true in that realm.
Learning to be flexible does not mean becoming a doormat. It means learning to listen to what the other is actually saying, and intending to say.
Sound bites and talking points are popular, but it is too obvious that those “conversations never actually accomplish anything. Well, nothing other than ratings, and thus income, which may be the real point anyway.
As one increases physical flexibility, one actually gets stronger, not weaker. One also becomes more familiar with what one’s body can actually do, and what it can’t.
I contend that mental, attitudinal flexibility is just as healthy.
Who’s with me?