Now that spring is here the end of the long winter of our discontent, that is the NBA season, is almost in sight. Maybe by the time Cubs fans finally shut up about their once in two life-times miracle, football will return. Anyway, with spring comes hope. Maybe life really will be renewed as promised by the fragrant blossoms from the locust trees, or not.
What does reappear as certainly as television programs filled with mindless sex and violence, I mean the news of course, are the miscommunications between men and women, religions and cultures and countries. We are left to wonder, what does it all mean; actually, what does any of it mean?
The reality of the danger inherent in one person or one group of persons misinterpreting the signs and signals from others has been brought home to me recently. I will cite three examples. You, Gentle Reader, will surely have your own.
WOMEN VERSES MEN
It is not called the Battle of the Sexes for nothing. We have about three million years of experience involving this war. Let’s face it. We are different. No matter how Madison Avenue tries to androgenize us, we just ain’t the same, especially when it comes to communication. I give you last weekend as an example.
“I am so ready for this weekend. Let’s have breakfast on the back porch and enjoy some coffee.”
“We need to get those plants moved while the ground is moist. And you need to get my garden tilled today.”
“I think the Cardinals play at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN.”
“The cardinals need sunflower seeds. Can’t you see how sad and confused they are by that empty bird feeder? You need to run into Rural King right now.”
I suppose those of you who are sure which one of the above speakers was right do not need the actors identified. Suffice it to say what women consider a weekend is for is not what men believe. You are correct. However, the cardinals that received the attention were not the Cardinals.
RELIGIONS AND CULTURES
If President Trump, as Candidate Trump, can claim he knows more about war in the Middle East than the generals, I may boldly assert I know something about religion. To that end I avow that there are legitimate reasons why different religious sects differ. It was probably the same even when Constantine decreed the threat of death as the best conversion sermon. People still believed as they thought proper.
In much of the world today Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists, not to mention the many other faiths, are struggling over how many angels can dance on the barrel of a gun. And within each religion there are differing opinions as to what is the proper way to worship. Most significantly, some of the religious world is busy killing some of those of other religions in the name of bringing peace. In other words, the same words are interpreted differently.
Of course, all of us believe our culture is superior to all others. History, including contemporary events, is replete with death, destruction and denial of civil rights dealt out by one klavern against another. To do unto others before they do to us appears ever ascendant. Most of this is due to our inability to see situations from anther’s viewpoint.
While personal and cultural misapprehensions often result in cruelty and destruction, the greatest potential evil is caused by the leaders of countries sending out and receiving confusing signals. We could go back thousands of years for examples of wars begun over ignorance. Or we could just look to our own times: Viet Nam, The Gulf War, The Iraq War, Afghanistan and maybe soon Iran and North Korea.
I will admit that because our son fought on the frontlines of two of those wars my feelings are personal and certainly not unbiased. However, my opinion does not alter the facts: our country (and other countries) got into these conflicts after numerous miscommunications and misunderstandings. Weapons of mass destruction comes to mind.
What I suggest as a possible way to avoid our next shooting war, say with Iran or North Korea, is a careful and thoughtful effort to not vilify others we may not understand while we try hard to see matters from their position. This is the simple maxim that has been universally applied with success since we came down from the trees: Treat others as we wish to be treated.