"How many of us actually live for peace? May we have a show of hands?"
The quote above helps me be mindful of the potential discord between my stated priorities, my actions, and my thought patterns. Essentially I reinterpret the question to mean "am I living as one?" The focus on integrity this brings forward lends me a clearer mind to assess myself and my life. A key component I've been reviewing lately is my personal quality, especially in relationships.
What do I actually bring to the table in a relationship? For that matter, what can anyone bring to bear in a relationship? At first blush most people believe they are high quality material for friendship. Few people will self describe as a crappy, selfish, duplicitous, or obnoxious friend. Yet we all have encountered people who we experience as being crappy, selfish, duplicitous, and obnoxious friends. My suspicion is these traits come to the fore when there is a schism between how we think, what we want, how we think we can get it, and the reality we are in. That's why I think it's important to engage in ruthlessly honest self evaluation. If my priorities and my behavior don't agree with one another I'm duplicitous. If I want to be the center of attention, the life of the party, but don't have the polished social skills to successfully navigate that experience, I'm obnoxious. If I'm dissatisfied with a relationship but unwilling to end it or put in the effort to change it, I'm both duplicitous and selfish.
But then we take a look at the positives. What can we bring to a relationship that is good? As best I can tell the big three are compassion, integrity, and resources. We put energy into relationships that are important to us. We care for the people in those relationships and want them to feel happy. Internal/External harmony helps us direct our care and energy outward to the vital relationships in our lives.
What happens when one of those aspects is missing? What does is mean for a person's relationships if s/he is compassionate, sharing of resources, but dishonest? That person may be described as a lovely human, but is not trustworthy and therefore not dependable. The person with resources to share and integrity may very well ignore the needs of those around them. For want of compassion that person would likely be described as cold hearted, or at least distant. And now we come to the real rub, and the reason this was worth writing about at all on a blog about adoption:
Compassion and integrity without resources. What good are compassion and integrity if the person in question hasn't the resources necessary to effect change in the lives around him/her? Is harmony with impotence, care with utter exhaustion, worth offering? This is just one of the questions birth parents everywhere ask themselves. It's an important question to ask, and one I think more people should address. It has far reaching implications. But before anyone says the resources are necessary for worth, like a car engine needs gasoline, think about how severely segmented the population is in terms of financial, emotional, relational, spiritual, and time resources. But, before anyone says love is all you need, think about the emotional toll taken on a person trying to support another who doesn't have enough resources to care for him/herself, let alone invest in a relationship. Children struggle with this all the time when caring for elderly family members who cannot care for themselves. Is it right to start that struggle when the child is fifteen? What about nine? Or four?
There is no clear cut answer here. Every person's situation is different. But I think a hard look at what we really have, and what we truly lack, may significantly change the way we relate to one another.