In the weary journey that has been this life, I have come to accept that we cannot end sin by trying to destroy the impulses that trigger it. That simply justifies their behavior. So Jesus counsels us [NIV Matt. 5:9]:
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
So I have sought to join the vices to love. That strategy was held out in All the Vice of Jesus. I was pretty satisfied with my progress, and had turned my thoughts from the matter until I realized that Dissension was still at work in my life.
She kept me up all last night, from 12:30 until I rose at 6:45. Competition and fear at work, the cry of “Anti-Semitism” against the reasons for Jesus’s demotion of the Law of Moses, old family history and recent family struggle: they rolled through my mind, one after another, sometimes mixing into toxic stew, and I found myself simply reiterating: “I have so much else to be concerned with! What right do you have to burden me with these trivial complaints that are your responsibilities?”
So I lost that round. I allowed dissension to separate me from those that I seek to love and inspire.
I think of dissension as “she” because I have learned that Mystery, the woman on the red beast in Rev. 17:5, uses it as a favorite tool. Whether in debasing my relationships with younger women by imposing sex or in undermining collaboration with other men, Mystery (I could name the women, but that would be counter-productive) has inserted dissension again as an obstacle to my goals.
When things got really bad at work, I found this piece of wisdom about dealing with conflict, the goal of all dissension:
Find a mutually beneficial solution.
Adapt to surroundings.
Don’t share all your secrets.
Stand up for your dreams.
Sometimes you need to move on.
It’s that last that has come to disturb me: surrender. I have found it to be an effective solution, but a consequence has been that I haven’t been able to build upon the foundations I establish at work and home. Domineering people walk off with them.
There’s another method: dissension justifies the projection of our egos. If we don’t participate, and accept that projection without responding to its harmful intent, people become enmeshed in our love. Eventually they may realize that we can do more together than we can as individuals.
But then comes Mystery again: the quiet lurker in the backwaters of our minds who gains power by picking up the gold that dissension scatters. As we learn to work together, she’s frozen out, and the volume and intensity of her projections goes up.
Is that what I’m dealing with? The last hurrah of Mystery?
That doesn’t seem satisfying. I’d like to redeem her.
So let’s consider: if dissension motivates us to assert our egos in destructive competition, perhaps with love it becomes celebration of our differences? Maybe the answer to a charge of ill intent is to insert, at the top of the list:
Celebrate your opponent’s virtues.