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7 The Right Thing and the Right Way

The Arbiner Institute Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“Okay, first of all,” Lou began, “I asked whether it makes a difference in a conflict if one side is in the right and the other in the wrong. So I ask you again: doesn’t that matter?”

“Yes,” Yusuf replied, “it does matter. But not the way you think it does.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Well, Lou,” Yusuf responded measuredly, “have you ever been in a conflict with someone who thought he was wrong?”

Lou thought of Cory and the boardroom meeting with his five mutinous executives.

“No,” he answered coolly. “But that doesn’t mean they’re not.”

“True,” Yusuf agreed. “But you see, no conflict can be solved so long as all parties are convinced they are right. Solution is possible only when at least one party begins to consider how he might be wrong.”

“But what if I’m not wrong!” Lou blurted.

“If you are not wrong, then you will be willing to consider how you might be mistaken.”

“What kind of twisted riddle is that?”

Yusuf smiled. “It only seems like a riddle, Lou, because we are so unaccustomed to considering the impact of what is below our words, our actions, and our thoughts. There are two ways to seize Jerusalem or to engage in almost any other strategy or behavior, as Avi discussed with you. Which means there is a way I can be wrong even if taking Jerusalem is the best—even the right—thing to do. If I don’t remain open to how I might be mistaken in this deeper way, I might live out my life convinced I was on the right side of a given conflict, but I won’t have found lasting solutions.

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6. CHILDREN

Kevin Holdsworth University Press of Colorado ePub

I study the nurses’ faces. They’re pure poker but worried. The ob-gyn, Dr. Peters, on his third delivery of the night, looks beat and concerned. He’s called in the pediatrician, Dr. Wengen, just in case. The baby’s lodged. For three months Jennifer has been complaining of intense pain down there and his kicking. (We learned that it was a he from the ultrasound.) He’s already two weeks overdue. He’s posterior, breech—they can tell that—and stuck. The suction device they attach to his head isn’t working. Little bone-colored forceps—jaws—are next, or a C-section.

Jennifer has been in induced labor for thirty hours now and is completely worn out. She’s deep inside herself—I can tell. I can tell none of this is really happening to her. It’s not that she’s watching, she’s just deep inside, far away. We withdraw in such times of great stress.

The two nurses tell her to try one more time, Honey, just one more time. We’re all in this together. Dr. Peter’s eyes look pale gray and reflect the overhead fluorescent light. He’s wearing a clear mask that looks like something a welder would use. The pediatrician, Dr. Wengen, one of just two in the county with hospital privileges, stands in the corner by the incubator tray, ready, watching, not in the way. He looks kindly, probably sixty-five. He’s been here before. It’s hard to keep good doctors in our community.

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Medium 9781574412444

5. First Steps

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe University of North Texas Press PDF

didn’t even realize that we’d both forgotten until after he went to bed. I felt guilty. But I didn’t want to wake him up. Midmorning the next day, I brought Sam to my bedroom to lie down next to me. He latched on, took a swallow, made a face.

He let go, rolled over and looked away.

I was bewildered. Was this how all babies stopped nursing?

Or did my milk go sour? I sensed that Sam would never ask for my breast again. I was right. At ten months old, he stopped nursing. I bound myself and took hot showers for the next few days as my right breast shrunk to meet my left.

Sam was now too old to be swaddled, too big for the windup swing. Mark and I had no more ideas to calm him when he was upset. Some nights, we gave up, buckled him in his car seat and drove for miles, hoping he would fall asleep to the gentle drone of our tires pacing the well-groomed California freeways.

First Steps

As Sam grew from a baby to a toddler, he met enough developmental milestones that he stayed off the pediatrician’s radar of concern. At six months, Sam sat up. At seven months, he crawled. At one year, he walked on his own. I marked these firsts by putting a sticker on his “Baby’s First Year” calendar or making short entries in his baby book. Sam preferred walking to crawling, so from about eight months on, Sam would whine and gesture to Mark or me to lend him our fingers to better balance himself. We bent over and walked with Sam until our backs ached.

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Medium 9781576751794

CHAPTER 1: THE LAW OF AGREEMENT

Stewart Levine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

—Thomas Paine

Although it was almost fifteen years ago, it seems that it was yesterday when I articulated the Law and Principles of Agreement for the first time. I was so excited, you would think I had discovered a new planet or hit a lottery jackpot. I was ecstatic because I realized how fundamental agreements were to all aspects of life and how much suffering good agreements could alleviate. I also knew I would spend a good portion of the rest of my life teaching, facilitating, and writing about agreement and resolution.

I think of laws and principles as universal truths that are very difficult to refute or disprove. The Law of Agreement and the Principles of Agreement are the foundational truths on which this book is based. Like gravity, they are simple and obvious truisms that, although usually unspoken, are always present. The challenge is to stay mindful of them and to live by them. It is very important to remember that although the Law and Principles are simple to understand, they are not always easy to live by.

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4. Theological images of marriage

Christopher Clulow Karnac Books ePub

Michael Sadgrove

It is perhaps not usual to find a theological paper in company such as this. But as the poet quoted at the outset of Maggie Scarfs book, Intimate Partners, puts it, “[in] every house of marriage there’s room for an interpreter” (Scarf, 1987, p. 7). A theologian is an interpreter of the stories people tell. He or she interprets those stories from the particular vantage point of belonging to a faith-community. Theologians can collaborate with interpreters from other disciplines in helping to draw the contemporary “map” of marriage. Perhaps it is the particular contribution of theology to draw attention to the “why” questions alongside the “how”: if marriages are to work, it is important to ask why marriage exists, what it is for. That is the aim of this chapter.

It is worth making three points at the outset. (1) A very significant number of marriage ceremonies in Britain still take place in church, over half of them in the Church of England. No doubt, there are many reasons for getting married in church, not all of them consciously religious. But many couples would seem, in some way, still to want to place their marriages in the religious sphere, where language about God will be used to give meaning to marriage in general, and to their own marriages in particular. And that is to find ourselves already in the arena of theology. (2) Whether we like it or not, our western understanding of marriage has been almost entirely shaped by Christian theology. That legacy is still with us, even if the evidence is that it is breaking down. Since many of the couples who come for marital counselling or therapy will, consciously or unconsciously, have inherited this cultural understanding of marriage, it is important for professionals in other disciplines to know what in fact it is, even if it is only to challenge or reject it. (3) I want to allay any fear that when a theologian starts talking about marriage, what he or she is really interested in is divorce. It is true that some kinds of theology seem obsessed with questions of marital discipline and what the Church should do about it. But that is not the primary concern of this chapter.

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