It seems that all of mankind is in a state of constant perpetual conflict with people disagreeing on any and every thing. Get two people in a room, and sooner or later you will have an argument about which way to proceed.
The larger the group is, the greater the disagreement and the greater the conflict. Everyone thinks his or her way is the correct way, and the other person is out of his or her mind for conceiving a contradictory view.
I have sat in meetings when a supervisor (who you wonder how he ever got the job) says that he and upper management have decided this is the way they are going to market their products, then asks for the input of the twelve other people at the table, who never raise their gaze from studying their last manicure and wishing the meeting was over.
Of course, I found myself pointing out that we had tried that approach last year and it didn’t work. What makes them think it would work this time around?
The manager’s face got flush and he said that my response was inappropriate. The other eleven people, still looking at their hands, smiled in agreement with me but were too afraid to voice an affirming comment.
After the meeting, they privately congratulated me for speaking out and said they were in total agreement with the points that I made but they made sure that the boss could not hear their comments.
A few minutes later, the supervisor called me into his office, closed the door, and told me that I should not have embarrassed him in front of the other employees.
I told him that I had not intended to make him look bad. He should know me by now; and if he did not want my opinion, he should not have asked for input from those present.
After being self-employed for thirty years then going back into the hierarchy of the corporate business world, I found out that management was not interested in its employees’ input.
They just wanted us to follow orders and keep our mouths shut. If you could not go along with their program, then go find work someplace else because you are not a “team player.” I am sure that many of you find yourselves in the same position.
Society teaches that you are a worthwhile individual and that your ideas count until you enter the workplace or join the military, police or fire department, or any other bureaucracy where the only acceptable behavior is silent compliance.
Although the conflict with management is constant and laced with the fear of termination, the real war is between you and your peers. I was appalled at the stealing of business, lies, gossip, and self-promotion at the expense of others that goes on.
Cliques are everywhere, groups of people ban together for mutual preservation. The most common disclaimer is, “It is not my job. Give it to somebody else.” I am amazed that corporate America has survived this long.
But, if you know that in the eyes of management who consider you to be an expendable cog in their machine and that there are ten people just as qualified as you waiting outside the door to take your place, then what personal value do you have in the operation of the company? None! You know it and they know it. So daily, you find yourself working in an environment of fear and intimidation.
Government is permeated from top to bottom with politicians and bureaucrats who live to solely serve their own self-interest. Every politician is bought and paid for by some special interest group or individual.
In the words of the late billionaire recluse, Howard Hughes, “I never met a man that I could not buy.” And it is still true today. I have always maintained that the easiest word to say is no. If a government official says yes, then they might have to do some work! And we all know that is not what they are paid for.
All of you church-going readers know exactly what I’m talking about. Sister Reed is going with the married Brother Brown and has had two children by him; his poor wife does not have a clue.
Pastor Smith has had sexual relationships with half of the young women in the church; but he can still preach a dynamic sermon so he is forgiven, especially if he is good looking.
Deacon Jones has been stealing from the offering for the past five years; no one seems to care. The youth choir director is gay and has made offensive suggestions to some of the boys in the chorus.
And Brother Hardy (who only tithes ten dollars a week) has the audacity to try and run the church building fund, where most of the money collected goes, and constantly reminds the other board members that he has a right to be heard because he also tithes his money. Conflict and more conflict with no end in sight.
The ultimate conflict occurs within the human family. Two people get married, starry-eyed and in love, and swear their devotion to each other before the eyes of God or a public magistrate. They promise to love and honor each other until death parts them.
They commit to each other for the rest of their lives. At the end of the ceremony, they embrace and warmly kiss each other showing the world their affection. A month later, they wonder what is wrong with this fool that they married.
They find out immediately that they really did not know each other. Petty little things create huge arguments. Neither is willing to concede their position or compromise. Quiet rational communications are thrown out the window. Threats are made.
Sometimes violence occurs and law enforcement has to intercede. In spite of all of this, somehow the marriage holds together and slowly proceeds forward.
Children are conceived and born; the family of two is now five. Up until puberty, the children are quiet, respectful, obedient and loving. Most of the arguments between the parents have long ago been resolved.
The young couple spends most of their time loving, caring for, and planning the futures of their adorable offspring until the hormones start to flow and the group peer pressure starts. Arguments start anew between the parents on what should be done with these strange creatures that cohabit with them in their house.
The children artfully play one parent against the other adding to the confusion and turmoil. Husband and wife start to seriously drift apart and the children become more defiant. Study habits are discarded, curfew is ignored, driving privileges are abused, and sexual activity commences.
Both the male and female children are warned by their parents about the dangers of a pregnancy and the consequences for success in life. The children completely ignore their advice.
The daughter has a baby at sixteen, all but destroying her life, and the parents find that the burden of financially caring for the grandchild becomes their responsibility. When they ask their daughter about her plans for the future and what can they do to help, she doesn’t have a clue.
The parents cannot understand where they went wrong. They dutifully raised their children in the church, prayed regularly with them, and once a week took them to Bible study to learn God’s word in detail. What more could they have done?
The children soon are in their early twenties. One child saw the error of his ways, is determined to get his college degree, and is producing a B+ grade average. His future appears bright.
The other two figure they will stay at home and live off of Mom and Dad until they die and have staked out their claims for the long haul. Conflict abounds everywhere. The homebound children constantly remind their mother and father that they are adults and what they do with their lives is none of their parents’ business.
Yet they never admit that they are living off of their generosity. They are supposed to provide for them until death do they part; after all, they did not ask to be born.
The mother starts to contemplate suicide as a way out. Unbeknownst to her, her husband has taken up with another woman and is planning on leaving in a few months using his ungrateful children as an excuse.
The children are constantly asking for money, not ever considering, that for each dollar that a parent advances is one dollar less that they will have for their retirement. The children always insist that the money is a loan and they will pay it back; but they never do.
When asked for the return of the loan, the children get belligerent and sometimes cuss the parents out for asking or stop talking to them. The begged for loan has now become a gift. Sound familiar?
We all know how this story ends. The children mature to the age of thirty or so; their lives are in shambles; they humbly come back to their parents and tell them they were right and they should have listened to them.
Now they fully understand the guidance that Mom and Dad offered but which they ignored. It is basically too late for them to turn their lives around. They have acquired too many bad habits.
Why is it that in the fortress against the outside world, the home (where people of the same blood should work as one to keep the beasts of the world at bay), there is so much conflict?
Why will most children not learn until life has passed them by? Why do children have the propensity to make so many misguided bad decisions? The answer is simply: They heard; but they did not listen.
Some would say, “That is just the way it is.” Not so. We teach our children to behave in this manner through the mores of our society. Most of the world does not behave in this fashion. I will give you a classic example.
In the country of India, children are taught from birth to be obedient to their parents in everything. The thought of disobeying their father is almost unheard of. Marriages are arranged.
In most cases, the bride and groom do not meet until their wedding day. There is no initial love involved, just a scared commitment of the bridal couple’s part to honor their families and parents by keeping with this tradition.
They marry, have children, and over time learn to love each other. I have observed them to be a quiet people by living next door and across the street from four couples. I never hear them argue.
Their children are obedient (without spanking or whipping) from what I have seen. They appear to understand that karma has brought them together as husband and wife.
They seem fully committed to work together to make the best of it. And I have never heard of them getting divorced because it would bring too much shame and loss of honor to their families.
They have learned in five thousand years of their culture that family honor is more important than individual desires. They are not taught to stand alone as individuals but to work within the sacred traditions of the family unit.
Elderly family members are not consigned to nursing homes to die a lonely death. Loving family members care for them until their time comes. We all know that they have a rigid caste system that allows for very little upward mobility; yet these same traditions are kept no matter what a person’s status in the society.
As they become more and more westernized, will they set aside the culture and traditions that have seen them through for thousands of years and become just like us? It would be a terrible shame for them to emulate American values.
There is a mystery which has perplexed mankind since the mythical Adam and Eve. Why are men and women so different? All my life, I have asked associates, friends, and acquaintances, “Do you understand women?”
And I get the same response that they do not have a clue. I must confess I am also at a loss to explain their behavior and motivation. I am not sure whether they even understand each other. I know with certainty they are taught by their mothers and other females from birth about what to expect from the ideal man.
That perfect man will exist to satisfy their every desire and need. They will live as the fairy tales say, happily ever after. But they have a serious problem; the ideal man does not exist.
There is no knight in shining armor who will passionately sweep them off of their feet and carry them away on horseback to live in the highest rampart of the castle, where they will be loved and made love to for all of eternity.
Ladies, most of you have already found out that knight does not and never has existed. We are just men, some good and some bad. Each of us is burdened with the flawed nature of what we have been taught by our fathers and older males.
We have a few rules that we are all taught to live by. A good man provides for his family. As in school, we are all taught the three Rs. In a man’s life, he is also taught to provide three things: food, a roof over his family’s heads, and clothes for their backs.
In the minds of most men if he is providing the needs of his family, his job is complete. He does not need to do anything else. We are not taught to be doting husbands and caring dutiful fathers to our children.
It appears our married life starts and ends with our ability to provide financially for every member of our immediate family. In most of the world, a fourth tradition is added: a man must control his wife or lose face. His society expects him to keep her submissive by any means necessary, including murder if it is required.
As a result of this fourth edict, the majority of the women of the world live in a state of slavery, owned as if they were property by their husbands. As women, they cannot own land, vote, hold political office, or possess any of the rights freely given to men.
In Africa, certain countries still practice the barbaric tradition of female circumcision to prevent the woman from having pleasure during intercourse. The reasoning is if a woman receives pleasure during the sexual act, she might be tempted to have relationships outside of her marriage.
Setting a woman on fire, stoning, blinding, cutting off body parts, imprisonment, execution, and public raping are all deemed appropriate punishments by the offender’s family and the public at large, without any regard for due process or appearance of justice.
I ask myself, “Why do men do these things to women?’ I have come to the conclusion that men just don’t like women.
The now deceased anthropologist, Joseph Campbell, wrote in his four-book series, The Masks of God, the reason men hate women is because men are jealous of the women’s ability to give birth to children.
I must disagree with his conclusion because I have never met a man that desires to be female under any circumstances unless he was of a homosexual persuasion.
I know that men don’t like females. To prove my point, just look at how men treat women everywhere in the world. It is a sordid, despicable state of affairs and we should be ashamed of ourselves.
We are taught that at the root of all evil in the world is the sin of a woman called Eve. Poor Adam was just a victim of circumstances; and if the Bible says it is so, then it has to be true. Men use this as a justification for their treatment of women.
But men do realize that there are some peculiarities involving women that are hard to explain. How many male readers have heard their wives in the heat of an argument say, “You know what you said! You know, but you just don’t want to remember!”
After some serious coaxing on your part, you find out that your wife is referencing something that happened twenty-two years ago on August 14th at 5:32 pm. She has been holding on to this pent-up situation all of these years and has chosen to voice her frustration at this moment. Women don’t forgive and they don’t forget.
In the course of my insurance business, I dealt with many elderly couples who were married fifty years or more. I would sit at their kitchen table with both of them present and repeat the story about the woman bringing up an incident that happened twenty-two years ago. The men would immediately start chuckling, affirming the truth of my statement, and the women would just get mad.
I had always thought that these marriages stayed together because the women were long suffering and put up with the short-comings of their husbands by looking the other way. However, I soon found out that just the opposite was true.
The men held the marriages together by quietly and patiently ignoring all of their wives’ faults. The man would make a personal commitment to stay with his wife until the end. He refused to be combative with her when an argument arose without exchanging too many words.
He would retreat to his favorite chair to read the newspaper or turn on the television and ignore her. Under the worst of conditions, he would get into his car for a peaceful drive or go for a long walk to give her time to cool down.
I accept the fact that women will not agree with this assessment of themselves. Therefore, I will now continue with the women’s perspective and I tell you men readers to follow what is about to be said closely.
On the other hand, women are equally at a loss in understanding men. In preparation for writing this text, I asked all of the women that I knew: If they could find the ideal man, what traits would he possess?
The one trait that was repeated first and often was sensitivity. A good man has to be sensitive in every aspect of the meaning of the word. He must be sensitive to her needs and desires. He needs to demonstrate from time to time his love for her with a caress or a gentle affirming pat on her back.
A special surprise of flowers, when least expected, is more than appreciated. He must know how to listen to her when she is speaking. He must be a warm and an affectionate person.
He must be attentive to her needs. He must also be sensitive to the needs and desires of his children. He must be strong and willing to face life’s battles in order to protect her and her children.
Throughout life’s struggles, he must always have her back. And for doing all this for her, she will give him the only gift that she has, which is her eternal enduring love.
Women feel that they give their bodies to their husbands to pleasure them, and they give their love to comfort and honor them throughout their lives’ journeys. They know, although they wish that it was not true, that there are no perfect men especially knights in shining armor.
So they live lives of perpetual compromise. For the sake of her children, a woman allows her husband to not be as sensitive as she would like. She foregoes the whispered words that she so desperately needs from him, “I love you,” for a roof over her head, food, and clothes on her children’s backs.
She starts to settle for second best, all the while knowing that she indeed deserves the best; and she is right. She sees herself becoming just like her mother, who taught her to find the good man, and having to settle for a man like her father, who successfully provided the materialistic needs of his family but fell short in providing the emotional infrastructure that she required.
When she was younger, she saw her father in a fit of rage strike her mother and swore that if any man ever hit her, she would leave or kill him. She considered her mother weak for staying with him.
Then one fateful day, her spouse strikes her in anger, and like her mother, she stays and does not leave. For the first time, she understands her mother’s pain and shame for not being strong enough to go.
She takes a job to help with the family bills, performs the same work as her male cohorts, and receives less pay. When she gets home, she is still required to cook, clean, and wash just as if she had never been to work. She seldom, if ever, gets a word of encouragement from her husband for a job well done.
When she cries, she cries alone in her frustrations with nobody but the wind to hear the heart wrenching sobs of her agony. She learns to live in quiet desperation of failed hopes and ambitions. She finds herself no longer young and pretty and the admiring glances from other men have turned to looks of almost scorn.
As she looks into the mirror applying her makeup, she tries to ignore the lines and wrinkles in her face which was once as smooth as fine silk and hopes that the latest skin cream will offer her some relief. She thinks that it is just not fair that men are allowed to grow old gracefully and women are not.
Her husband, who used to tell her how beautiful she was, hardly gives her a second glance. She finds herself in bed ritualistically making love where there is no love. She wonders why he cannot see that she is still the same person who he said he loved those many years ago; only her outward appearance has changed.
Within her bosom, still burns an ember of love for this man who she calls her husband. She is still there for him even though his belly hangs over his belt and his manhood does not perform like when he was younger.
He does not know that the act of just holding her and being with her, which for her, is just as important as the sex act itself.
It shows her that she is still loved and appreciated. She has given so much of herself to him and her family.
She is on the verge of giving the last vestige of herself away and disappearing into that dark night. She is drowning; and there is no one who realizes what is happening, let alone to throw her a desperately needed lifeline.
Time continues to pass; they both sleep in the same bed, side by side, but yet a million miles apart. One day, she gets out of bed; he does not rise. She places a hand on his now ice-cold forehead, and knows instantly that he has passed.
Shortly after his funeral, she enters that strange twilight world of the widows, knowing that it will be hers to dwell in for at least ten years, alone and nearly forgotten.
She walks the rooms of her house, passing the time, thinking about the good times that they had, and ignoring the painful bad. She smiles and thinks to herself that maybe her time will come soon. Just maybe it will come soon and she will not have to suffer the loneliness.
An amazing thing happened as I was writing these last pages. I, who professed to have never been able to understand women, was guided by my inner Soul to write these words. For the first time in my life, the clarity of a woman’s being came to me. I must tell the men that we have got it all wrong!
They are the best things that can happen to us and they are, oh, so much better than we are. I will never ever think of them as I used to. Never! I ask the women that I have misused and abused, those most precious souls, to please, please forgive me for I knew not what I did.
My fellow men, I hope that upon reading these words, you, too, will have a change of heart and love and appreciate them for who and what they are. They are our mothers, our wives and lovers, and our children. And, they are the essence of all that is right and good in humanity.