Words And Relationships

By Saul Levine, MD










Words And Relationships




A person known to be benevolent and loving can, in different circumstances, be an SOB.  Similarly, some might see an individual as abrasive and nasty while others see that person as warm and caring.


In history, some names pop up on both sides of the ledger, showing both the best aspects of humanity and shameful behavior.  Few people wish to accept that they have “dark sides”, and if they do commit an abhorrent act, they can justify it by saying they had no choice, so that the behavior becomes “acceptable”.


The fact is, we are all capable of both human and inhuman behavior.  Our capacity for benevolence, empathy and tolerance has evolved, and our philosophical and spiritual beliefs have provided us with aspirations for inner and outer peace.


The major religions of the world share central tenets like respect and compassion for our fellow beings and the goal of peace.  Even nonbelievers can appreciate the attempts made by religions to “deliver us from evil” and bring peace to our world.  It is not the belief in God, however, as much as the profound and very human messages of tolerance and caring which just might “save us from ourselves.”


Unfortunately, our history is woefully burdened with “Man’s inhumanity to man”.  In the last century more than 200 million people were killed in violent encounters and wars, and all were rationalized as “regrettable but necessary.”  On a lesser scale, but still very troublesome, are the incivility and aggression in our daily lives.  We are surrounded by anger and vitriol, which negatively affects all of us.


“When will they ever learn?”, the plaintive lyric from that popular sixties protest song “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”, was a clarion call for harmony among people.  The sad truth is that we don’t seem to “ever learn”.  George Santayana’s statement, “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it,” has been remarkably prophetic.


We have the power to do some good for our world and ourselves if we come to our senses.  We know there is no human purity, but if there were ever a mythic battle between those genetically disposed to be “purely evil” and those programmed to be “purely benevolent,” the outcome would favor the latter, because guns abruptly end conversations.


The enmity between ethnic, religious, racial or national groups can dissipate when they have opportunities to interact in business, science, sports and recreation. The power of words and relationships is what will save us from our tendencies towards animosity and aggression.  It is through our words, our respect and civility, and our relationships with each other that human beings will survive and thrive.






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