There’s a lot of anger in society these days. It’s not new. It’s been gaining steam for decades.
Some are mad at white people, who demand white privilege. Some are mad at black people, who play the victim card. Everyone is mad at politicians who won’t focus on solutions.. Even police, our keepers of the peace, are attacking and being attacked.
When I was a kid, my dad had a simple philosophy. “If you focus on the problem, the problem will increase. If you focus on the solution, the solution will increase.”
Dad made us put those words into practice. Whenever my brother and I got into a fight, Dad took us by the shirt collar, marched us into his den, and told us we couldn’t come out until we resolved our argument.
Even though we didn’t like it when Dad ushered us into those time-out sessions, eventually my brother and I resolved our conflict, and we’d be back playing baseball in the backyard like best buddies.
What if we did the same thing with society’s conflicts? Whenever an argument arises, we march those involved into a conference room, lock the door, and tell them, “You can’t come out until you solve the problem.”
Take, for example, immigration. What if we put the open-borders people and the build-the-wall people into the same room and made them come up with a compromise? We might start their conversation with a simple focus question, “How do we welcome immigrants into our land, but establish a fair and orderly process for doing so?”
Another conflict might be the media. We’d lock Fox News and CNN representatives in time-out and tell them, “You can’t come out of the room until you agree to report only straight facts with no spin, and if you want to give your opinion when reporting, you have to clearly mark it as an editorial, like old-school journalism used to require.”
Even the tough issue of abortion might get resolved by focusing on the solution, not just the problem. Let’s put pro-lifers and pro-abortion opponents in a time-out room and ask them to figure out when human life begins and how we care for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy.
In political philosophy class, we called it “focusing on the common good.” It might sound simplistic, but if it worked for me and my brother, it might work for society too.
Spiritual Mentor James Finley says, “Underneath anger is usually fear, and underneath fear is usually a sense of powerlessness.”
If both sides had to discuss and come up with a mutual resolution, then anger might be channeled into positive energy—and we could focus on fixing things.
Maybe a concrete way to focus on solutions instead of problems is to start with ourselves. What if we placed ourselves in time-out each day and listened quietly to the voice of love invite us to self-acceptance, to God-acceptance? If we let ourselves be embraced with Divine Love, we might accept ourselves as we are. Maybe in the Silence we’d hear the voice of love say to our hearts, “This is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
From that stance, we might then take that loving acceptance into daily conflicts with others and focus on how the Divine Heart invites us to resolve our differences. We might put into practice my wife’s philosophy, who, when a conflict arises, often asks, “How can we make this work for everyone?”
There’s a solution for every problem, Dad said. If we can move beyond anger and focus with love on the solution, we become the change we seek in the world.
Move beyond the anger. Focus on the solution and see the solution increase.
—brian j plachta