Question and Answer

You can't have a question without an answer, nor an answer without a question. Their lives depend on one another. That's how it works in relativity. Does down mean anything without up?

If you think your question is so extremely hard, it just might be. But that doesn't mean the answer is inescapable.

Think of your most urgent, anxiety-producing question—the one you think is so important and so necessary to answer.

What is it like to at least entertain the possibility that the presence of it means the answer is on the way? How can it be otherwise? If it were, you wouldn't be asking this question, at this particular time. What would be the point? One is calling out to the other.

Notice the word "quest" in the word question. That's a clue.

Questions motivate us by frustrating us. They get us going. They are like wind in the sails. And they ultimately lead us on journeys.

Questions are not meant, by in large, to be answered immediately—though our egos greatly desire this.

They are meant to be held, so they can carry you, and so that you can be prepared, step-by-step, for the answer.

The noblest answers require the noblest patience, and the noblest questioning.


Blame, on the ground level, stems from ignorance—lack of insight to understand that physical occurrences, of any sort, trace to a million and one causes, ranging from the gross to the subtle with varying degrees of relevance.

To "blame" the car's ability to drive on gasoline alone, misses all the other parts of the car, the builders of the car, oil harvesting, and on and on.

To blame all your problems on your mother does not take in to account her childhood, the childhood of her parents, nor the potentially debatable narrative you are harboring about her, etc.

Blame is easy and provides quick relief. That's why we like it so much.

As we get to the basement level, we see that blame stems from a very specific kind of fear—the fear of connection.

In an enlightened tribe, if one neighbor perpetrates some wrong against another, the leader would not otherize the perpetrator, blame him, and punish as a principle tactic to achieve justice.

Why? The leader understands causality and that the picture is not as black and white as it seems. There are deeper reasons the perpetrator did what he did and there are deeper reasons the victim was on the receiving end of the behavior. To reflexively blame and punish the perpetrator is like opening a window to let smoke out without investigating where the fire is. Satisfying, but a guarantee you are setting yourself up for harm in the future.

This does not mean the leader condones whatever the behavior was. She may be sincerely outraged by it and inclined to use a punishment method. It means she is more interested in getting to the root cause and healing on that level for the sake of sanity, both parties, and the tribe.

Take a good look at this photo.

  Photo by Pieter Hugo, from   Portraits of Reconciliation  .

Photo by Pieter Hugo, from Portraits of Reconciliation.

On the left is Jean Pierre Karenzi and on the right, Viviane Niyramana. In the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Jean Pierre killed Viviane's father and three brothers.

Imagine if somebody did something like that to your family. Would you be able to occupy the same space as him or put your hand on his shoulder?

After going through a reconciliation process (a strategy the Rwandan government has used to heal from the genocide) with expert facilitators, Viviane is now able to do so and says, "I was afraid of him — now I have granted him pardon, things have become normal, and in my mind I feel clear." Emphasis added.

That's the odd thing about victims and perpetrators or any two seemingly opposed sides. They get entwined with one another. As righteous as it may feel to blame and punish your opposite, this is not the way to truly heal your differences.

True healing comes when the opposed sides have the courage to drop their hateful and spiteful feelings and take a deep look at one another with eyes that seek to understand and be free. In so doing, shared humanity is recognized and harmony can begin to flow again.

This does not mean we make excuses for ills and evils. It means the path of peace and compassion is a difficult but necessary one to walk.

Making the Other Wrong

If we can make the other wrong, then we make ourselves right.

If we make ourselves right, then we achieve a sense of superiority.

Behind the sought after sense of superiority, is a more human need—the need to be recognized/seen/appreciated/validated.

The more a culture is fractured along ethnic, political, religious, and ideological lines, the more making the other wrong you will find since nobody feels any of these things in sufficient quantity.

It is a self-defeating coping strategy, like violence, to bring harmony to an out-of-balance situation.

Very few among us have the rare ability to meet it with a dose of presence.

That means taking more than a few moments before offering a response, attempting to see things from the other's perspective, and then offering a response that serves to heal vs. otherize, even if it is at the expense of a cheap ego defense.

A fight to make yourself right and the other wrong, like a fight with a lion, leaves only one party standing in the end.