Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted August 25, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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What Can We Learn From the Mosque vs Ground Zero Debacle?

Read More: anger, Ground Zero, hate, intolerance, mosque, relationships, right, tolerance

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A majority of those who are against the building of the mosque near Ground Zero have moved from reasonable and appropriate dissent and disagreement to bigotry, racism, stereotyping, hatred, and violence in speech if not in action, all of which are forms of terrorism, in a sense, which is remarkably ironic in that it's these sorts of behaviors that will contribute to further emotional and physical terroristic malignancy and aggression in the future, which those against the building of the mosque are in fear of.

Those who are insistent upon building the mosque at the currently proposed site near Ground Zero because they have the right to do so and who are unwilling to compromise and negotiate an alternative site are being equally shortsighted in the sense that by being insensitive to the point of being unwilling to adjust the site location, they are setting themselves up for more dissent, divisiveness, racial profiling and stereotyping, and potential violence against them in the future, which is counterproductive to their long-range goals.

What can these extreme positions teach us about our relationships?

They bring to mind the expression, "Would you rather be right or happy?"

In our personal relationships, when we are in conflict with our partner and in disagreement as to what should be done in a particular circumstance, when we don't get our way it behooves us not to vilify our partner. It behooves us not to take an extreme position of anger, aggression, verbal or physical attack. It behooves us not to call our partner names and paint them as evil and malignant people.

This may be very satisfying to our ego to lash out because they have hurt us.  Equally so, we may perceive this tactic as a  way to  manipulate them to change their mind. Regardless of our motives, the end result is going to be bad feelings, more resentments and grievances, more aggression and passive-aggression, all of which bode poorly for a long-term, sustainable, and successful relationship.

On the other hand, if we are the partner who has gotten the final say, who has taken the position that we are in the right and we will not compromise or negotiate, again we are just laying the groundwork for more grievance and aggression which foretells a relationship that will ultimately fail.

Just because we may be in the right doesn't mean we should muscle our partner into submission. If instead, we are sensitive to their needs and feelings and try to find a way to compromise for the greatest good of all concerned, we are taking the high ground, we are role modeling healthy, loving behavior, and we are making the statement that we would rather be happy than insist on being right.

Make love, not war

The world is too complex and complicated for any one group to think that they can have their way to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. Equally so, relationships are too complex these days to allow for any partner to have an extreme, radical position that doesn't tolerate sensitivity and compromise.

If the world is to be healthy and to thrive, we must all find a way to cooperate, to compromise, to negotiate, and to communicate effectively and fairly. And if our relationships are to be healthy and to thrive, the same principles must prevail.