A pastor-friend of mine — Dr. Louis H. Evans — wrote a book on marriage called Duel or Duet? Last year I picked up a copy and reread it. The insight I gained was not about marriage but more about the society in which we live in 2021. Have you asked yourself, is your life like a duel or a duet?
I will acknowledge immediately that a duet with everyone in your life is not possible. Unless you are an extreme placater (one who agrees with everyone you encounter), you will have conflict with someone. Social media, opinions from other’s emails and even difficult acquaintances create opportunities for conflict. You cannot escape conflict, but you can choose how you manage it!
In a lecture I gave for my graduate students, I shared ways to manage conflicts. By simply “agreeing” with everyone, you can avoid confronting different opinions when they are expressed. That is what Thomas Harris called in his book, the “You’re okay but I’m not okay” life position. Have you had a friend you would describe as being “walked on” by everyone? You know a placater!
There are those who choose the opposite approach — the “I’m okay but you’re NOT okay” lifestyle. These are the blamers in our lives. I know you have met someone who knows only two ways to live: his way or the wrong way. This personality type is rarely able to accept responsibility for himself or to acknowledge his mistakes. It is too easy to shift the blame toward someone else. Finding fault can be a full-time occupation!
To create harmony in a musical setting, we discover that singing the same note often fails. To balance the music, a contrasting or complementary note brings out the beauty of the score. Musicians may follow the notes of an anthem or the core of a symphony to bring us enjoyment, but much of the time we fail to hear all the different notes that create the beauty of the arrangement.
In a good marriage a couple will develop the necessary balance to enjoy life. Discovering the complementarity of lifestyles creates success — the “duet” that each of us longs for in our relationships.
As I look at the political world in which we live, I see a lot more “duels” than duets! Choosing to blame those who hold different opinions only results in more hostility. Placating and giving up our ideas or rights will only create a sense of victimization and defeat.
Like a couple in a fulfilling marriage, we need to work together to achieve the balance our communities need. We can choose to create that kind of balance in our county, our city, our state! Can we do that in our nation?
This year, 2021, will be a new opportunity to affirm the spirit of our founding fathers. Although they debated, like duels of ideas, they created a duet of imagination and freedom so that the citizens of today can sing an inspiring anthem.
May we rediscover our national “duet” and become again ONE nation under GOD!