In establishing positive and constructive relationships with other people, a person with a healthy ego is beginning to stretch his self-concept and open himself up to becoming a channel of unconditional love. When a group of people with healthy egos gets together, unconditional love is present and palpable. Love is the basis of equality. When unconditional love is present, everyone in the group feels both unique and equal. When unconditional love is absent, people struggle against each other to stand out and be unique. What is natural and obvious when our eyes are open with love is no longer accessible or apparent once love’s clarity is lost. When love dissolves, group consciousness no longer exists.
A Multi-Generational Problem
To illustrate these ideas, lets imagine a large, multi-generational family. The parents have several children. These children are now all grown up, married with teenage children of their own. One young teenager dislikes one of his cousins and has for a long time but keeps his animosity hidden. The only hint of his disdain is that he is cool to his cousin. One Sunday, there is a family gathering at the grandparents’ home. Some of the boys decide to play touch football in the backyard. The boy who is secretly disliked by his cousin lines up as a receiver on offense and goes out for a pass. The cousin who detests him is the defensive back on the other team. The play develops. The receiver runs his route. He breaks open for a moment. The ball is thrown, a perfect strike. He turns to make the catch. Instead of trying to break up the play, the defender goes for his cousin, hitting him with a vicious shot in the back of his thighs. The boy flies up in the air then falls on the base of his spine in pain and shock. After all, this is touch football, not tackle, and tackling is not allowed. The receiver gets slowly to his feet and confronts his cousin. This, of course, is just what the resentful cousin hoped would happen. He wants his unsuspecting cousin to start something so he will have the excuse he needs to hit him with the full fury of his resentment. Words are spoken in anger. Insults are hurled back and forth. Pushing ensues. The receiver takes a wild swing at his cousin and misses.
The cousin who has set up the entire situation is a stone cipher. No emotion breaks through the cold mask of his face, his hard eyes the only hint of the hatred that lies beneath. In his head, where no one can see his thoughts, he secretly exults. You’ve just made your fatal mistake cousin, he says silently to himself. You did just what I wanted you to do. You’ve given me the green light to destroy you. A hint of a smile plays at the ends of his lips. His right arm moves forward suddenly in a quick, compact motion. He hits his cousin as hard as he can in the face. The boy collapses, his lip split, his face bloodied. Pandemonium breaks out. The other boys go running into the house. The adults quickly come running out.
A Toxic Situation
The father of the boy who has been hit confronts his nephew. His younger brother, the father of the resentful cousin comes to his son’s defense. Pretty soon the two brothers are pushing each other, giving new life to old grudges from their own teenage years. The other brothers and sisters try to break up the widening dispute to no avail. Instead of ending the conflict, they are drawn into it. The conflict has now escalated to a new level, moving through the generations and splitting the family into factions. The long-term cohesiveness of the family has been ruined. The entire family is now highly reactive and out of control. Each faction is self-righteous, certain the other side is wrong. Each faction wants to dominate and punish the other one. Even the grandparents are on different sides of the family conflict. In the blink of an eye the family has shifted from group consciousness to zero sum warfare. Instead of allowing love and respect to hold the family together, they are now all fighting for domination and control. Everybody wants to be right. The situation has become highly polarizing. The negative energy they have foolishly and unconsciously created together now has a life of its own and will draw them further apart. In the end, the conflict will wound and diminish everybody. There will be no winners.
Was any of this really necessary? One person, infected with a smoldering resentment, contaminated the entire family, reawakened
forgotten tensions, and created group conflict. A once loving family with a long history of cohesion reacted to conflict with more conflict and lost its cohesive center in the blink of an eye.
As our example suggests, it is easy to lose love, easy to react, and easy to create conflict with little provocation. While the above example is imaginary, it is not far-fetched. Things like this happen all the time and are but a reminder of the covert and insidious nature of evil. If we are easily provoked and allow ourselves to react inappropriately, we open the door to evil and thoughtlessly invite it into our lives.
If the cousin who had been tackled had recognized the resentment in his cousin’s actions and been able to maintain his self-control, he might have gotten up, walked away, and said nothing. Instead, he reacted and helped his cousin hurt him. Instead of walking away from trouble, he walked into trouble, and the rest of the family followed suit. This is one of those times when it would have been far better to turn the other cheek than to let one’s ego get in the way. It takes a clear and mature person to have the wisdom and self-control to recognize when it is time to walk away from trouble. While it is no easy task, neither is it an impossible one.