Often the root of discourse in marriage and other relationships is selfishness. We seek
to please ourselves first, to try and get from the other as much as we can to feed
ourselves. This is, of course, a recipe for disaster.
Some would say that we are born this way, and maybe so, but regardless, it is possible
to seek another path - that of compassion. What makes that so hard, however, is that most
of the institutionalized systems, work environments, and cultural norms in our society
support the "me first" mentality.
We are ranked, graded, promoted, recognized, blasted with media promoting satisfaction
through the acquisition of stuff. What rank were you in
your graduating high school class? Were you a star athlete growing up in your small
town? Did you have a date for the school prom? Is your chosen profession going to
give you the opportunity to purchase all the stuff that will make YOU feel good?
What happens when you don't get the grades, the "good" job, the attractive spouse?
Often anger, repressed or otherwise results, or perhaps seeking pleasure in harmful ways
to self such as alcohol or drugs, or maybe even resorting to porn to satisfy some sort of "I deserve this pleasure and can dominate" feeling.
The competitive nature of our capitalistic economy encourages us to put ourselves first.
This then leads to greed, envy and ambition. Wherever there are winners there are always many
more losers. So often this fulfillment of self first carries into our other important relationships -
partner, spouse, sibling, parent.
The opposite of selfishness is compassion which is something so alien in our country.
It is interesting to note that compassion is the foundation of most religions and spiritual traditions - treat others the way you wish to be treated.
This is certainly no easy task and all the harder when we have been brought up in a culture that sends the opposite message.
I think it is possible to work toward being more compassionate - through growing one's faith, ignoring many of society's messages, being more aware of every word that you speak, strengthening families, and creating a society that encourages the creative genius in each of us.
While I certainly can't change the world, I can change myself. For today I will strive to
stop and think before I speak. Am I loving, blessing and encouraging with my words and actions?