What if we extend these “Season’s Greetings” into how we resolve disputes?

Michael Zeytoonian Perspectives

Joy to the World.  Good tidings and light.  Shalom. The wonder and awe of a special birth of a child.  Peace on earth; good will toward men.  Heavenly peace.  Holy night.  Gloria, in excelsis Deo.  Star of Wonder; star of Light. A new year, a new beginning.  A throne of justice and righteousness.  Good cheer.  Rejoice.  Allah be praised.  Wisdom from on High.  Happy New Year.  Prince of Peace.  Wonderful Counselor.  (That’s my personal favorite as a lawyer.)

The holiday season is wonderful.  It brings out our best, our kindness, generosity of heart and spirit, our sense of wonder and amazement, our feeling of hopefulness and joy.  Lots of lights, singing, parties, celebrations and gift giving.  Troubles are laid to rest, if only for a while.  We stop arguing, stop stressing and stop trying to one up someone else.  We make resolutions to try to change for the better.

What if we didn’t slide back into business as usual? What if we just maintain the feeling of joy and the sense of wonder, and apply them to our day to day lives? … if we remind ourselves that each of us is sacred and every other person we interact with is also sacred, even when we disagree?

I read an article recently about some studies done that showed that people who experience the sense of awe frequently tend to be more generous and exhibit more ethical behavior.  I wonder about the connections between the sense of awe and wonder of this season and our feeling of being renewed and recharged, and at the same time rested, at peace and suddenly comfortable with quiet.  All is calm, all is bright…

And then it’s all gone.  The lights and gifts get packed up and the singing and merriment wind down.  Here in the northeast, the bleakness of another hard, cold winter begins to dominate the scene.  And it’s back to the grind, dreary cold days and long nights.

I’m going to wonder as I wander for a bit longer here… 

What if we didn’t slide back into business as usual?  What if we just maintain the feeling of joy and the sense of wonder, and apply them to our day to day lives?  What if we keep the sparkle in our eyes, and kept recognizing it in others?  If the warm and kind greetings continue to be exchanged, even between strangers?  What if we keep celebrating and keep looking at each other as brothers, sisters and neighbors, and exchanging warm smiles?  What if we roll down the car window and give a dollar to the street beggar that we are skeptical about the rest of the time?

What if we remember and remind ourselves that each of us is sacred and every other person we interact with is also sacred, every day?  If we looked at and treated each other with respect, all the time, even when we disagree?  One thing I’ve often appreciated among some of my legal colleagues is the practice of respectfully disagreeing.  How about if we take the time to silently acknowledge the divinity in the person that we were interfacing with, at every kind of exchange with each other?

How would that change the way we did business with each other?  How would that impact how we resolve our disputes with each other?  

How about if we all try it for a day or a week, follow up on this post and share with each other how we do with it?  You stop and look at the person who cut you off or is in your way in traffic as sacred.  The parents who are allowing their children to be noisier than we would like when we are out to dinner at a nice restaurant are sacred, as are their children.  The co-worker who disappointed you this week? Sacred.  Let’s take note of how it changes our response.  It won’t be easy, but it may just make a difference.