As a rule, in dealings with Others, one sets out
on the wrong foot, partly from an inborn presumption
of infallibility, partly from fear of being
contradicted, partly from an illusion of superiority,
partly, perhaps, from an inferiority complex.
The fact remains that, in respect of others, either one isolates oneself, or dresses up glamorously, or puts on a suit of armour, or takes on an aggressive attitude, or its opposite.
All in all, we don't get on well with others, unless they accept us enthusiastically just as we are.
But they too have more or less the same problems.
And so let us begin by taking a look at our rights and duties ...
concerning each other.
After making it clear to ourselves that our rights end where the Other's begin, and having established that it is just at that moment our duty begins, we must realise that intolerance, pride, infallibility, aggression, on our part, are completely unjustified, by the simple principle of reciprocity.
But that is only a first, very short step.
The next is, I believe, an inclination towards tolerance of our neighbour. Whether it becomes mutual depends on us.
But, since tolerance can sometimes be just a concession, and therefore not altogether pleasant, it is better to be ready to go further.
"Good heavens!" someone will say, who is
already trying hard to be tolerant.
"What do you want from me?"
"We want you to be more human, closer to the rest of the World."
"And what is the next step?"
"Being on their side."
"However different the Other might be, in thought,
in action, in relationships, with different background,
culture, traditions, attitude towards life
(love, marriage, peace, war, immigrants, the Third World)
you must learn to support his or her struggles,
enterprises, dealings with other people, because
the Other is like you,
you could be in their place, and you would like someone
on your side to support you."
"Let's be clear about this, wouldn't you like someone on your side, particularly in times of difficulty, crisis or danger? Well then, right now, to begin with, freely, prove it!"
"Well, that's it then!"
"No, that's not it yet."
"That's not enough. Even if there were love between you and the Other, you might not be on the Other's side, and you might not even be showing tolerance."
"One must arrive at respect."
This sentiment - which is also a moral value and a way of approaching humans, animals, nature, Life - underlies the three previous qualities
|tolerance - support - love|
Davide Melodia, May 1998
Translated by Simon Grant
Some writings of Davide Melodia