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Friday, April 6, 2012

Hallway Tensions

How do you feel when you are alienated from a close friend?  How then do you try to make peace with that person?  What do you send or say?  (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.193).

Alienate defined: make somebody feel disaffected—to make somebody feel that he or she does not belong to or share in something, or is isolated from it (often passive) • People like that often feel alienated from society. (Encarta Dictionary).

To alienate or to be alienated has several definitions, but I would like to address alienation as identified above.  The key term here I think is “isolation”.   We are made to feel or make others feel isolated.  We are made to feel or make others feel estranged.  (Estrange:  to cause somebody to stop feeling friendly or affectionate toward somebody else or sympathetic toward a tradition or belief (Ibid).)  If we do not address alienation proactively, we characteristically tell ourselves that time and distance may eventually heal the wound.  This tactic occurs because we are frequently at a loss to explain the complete nature of the alienation or how to effectively heal it.  This can be the result of simple integrity—rather than playing the happy hypocrite and feign that all is well, we keep our distance.  Or it can be the result of fear—since we don’t know how to handle it, we stay estranged.  Sometimes we are alienated for we sense that another person knows us all too well—has caught on to our secret ambitions or dreams that, in truth, we find the revelation of to be embarrassing.  Perhaps our ambitions or dreams outsize current realty, much like a kid donning adult clothes; or perhaps they are blatantly self-serving despite our pretense of servanthood and selflessness.   Ironically, candor can be an effective remedy for alienation.  For example, we can candidly express our view that others and we have vested interest in the proceedings.  Thus, we are replacing hedging and misdirection with honesty and recognition of often what is deeply obvious but perversely avoided and stealthily understated.  It replaces the undercurrent of mutual understanding that we will stand on pretense and politeness rather than plain truth. Therefore the best antidote to alienation, subtle or otherwise, is to leave off claims of profound nuance and fabrications of obfuscation and build a relationship built on simplicity and plain speaking and their ultimate offspring—trust itself.  In this way we can show love to those whose interests contrast with ours and sometimes divide us.  We eschew at last the favorite tactic of the evil one—deception.

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