The F Word

The first running group I ever joined met after work for distance between afternoon drive time and sunset. Later, I joined another group that met at the crack and finished runs just as the sun peeked over the horizon.

For a while now I’ve been mostly running solo sans wingmen and in the mornings before work. Several times this week though, I have run after work - in the dark - training has begun, so no matter what, I have to get the miles in.

Running a route I have run hundreds of times before is different in the dark than in the light. Like when you’re learning to drive and the cars behind you look one way from the rearview mirror and another way from the side view mirror.

The same only from a different perspective.

That got me to thinking about what a powerful healing force perspective can be. When we shift how we think about and respond to something, we can change the world.

Unfortunately, there is mostly judgement and less humility between people these days. And people are quick with answers and not so much interested in asking questions. This attitude takes everything way too seriously and way too personally and way too literally - the fundamentalist.

The fundamentalist believes you are with or against her. In the fundamentalist’s world, there is no compromise, no agreeing to disagree and definitely no exploring the possible. It’s every fundamentalists job to convince “the other” of his rightness.

“To be narrowing the discussion and instilling fear in people seems to be exactly the opposite of what’s called for these days,” says writer Kenneth Briggs.

And the distressing news is that each of us has our own share of the fundamentalist condition. The finger pointing and blame gaming and intolerance for other people’s differentness. Our fundamentalism may not be as dangerous as the Islamic fundamentalist or the Christian fundamentalist. Still, you and I are contaminated with it.

What are we going to do about it?

As a therapist, I can tell you families and couples find it difficult to talk about and live with their differences. History bears out that politicians and nations wage war over differences.

The fundamentalist acts as if everything in life is about winning or losing. I say we celebrate creativity and imagination and acknowledge we are humans who are gifted and conflicted.

Let go of the idea we are the center of the universe with all the answers. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and listen to the voice of the other. And, before you judge and condemn, find a way to respond to the situation from a different view.

I am striving to be more curious and less judgmental and to pause before reacting out of the familiar.

“Neither poverty nor wealth define us. It is our empathy that is our highest expression of shared nobility.” - Vaddy Ratner

“This is America. We don’t hunt heresies here. We welcome them.” - Maureen Dowd