The Attitude of a Subject
Goodwill and harmony flow more easily when there is a vertical order of parental compassion and purpose. Practitioners of Family Wellness (Scott, Virginia M., and Doub, George T., Survival Skills for Healthy Families Santa Cruz, CA: Family Wellness Associates.), a program developed by clinical psychologists to help families improve their relationships, humorously instruct Western children that there is no real equality in a family, because the parents are the bosses.
“Your turn will come,” they tell the children, “But for now, your parents are in charge.”
A Sacrificial Attitude
So too in society, a vertical order of leadership and authority is needed, yet wise leaders model themselves after a good parent, assuming a sacrificial attitude toward their constituents and investing in them as a parent does for his or her child. A true leader guides with a parental heart. The true heart of leadership does not seek to retain authority and power but rather to empower others and raise them up.
Breakdown of Interaction
The universe is a finely-balanced system of interrelated beings that interact in an orderly fashion. To generate the energy for anything to exist, act, and reproduce, there must be complementary partners. One partner initiates the relationship and the other responds. The initiator is the subject partner and the respondent is the object partner.
Interpersonal conflict is caused by a breakdown of interaction. Interaction flows most smoothly when people in the subject role guide those in the object role based not on their individual viewpoint but on shared values. Interaction breaks down when one partner takes over the role of another, when neither partner is willing to give first, or when neither partner will respond to the other.
Selfishness is the root cause of conflict. When we are overtaken by selfish desires, we tend to destroy ourselves and others. However, such selfishness is not our destiny, because it can be changed. No one is completely selfish, and no one is completely unselfish. We are a mixture of both natures. The balance between these contradictory tendencies may shift day by day. One part of us wants to do good, care for others, and give of ourselves. But at other times we find ourselves not caring about anything and doing whatever we please. Such inner conflict has plagued humankind throughout history.
It is a universal principle that everything has an individual purpose, by which it maintains its own existence. Yet this is not its ultimate purpose, for every being is meant to exist for a purpose greater than itself. For example, we need to maintain our health for our own well-being as well as for the sake of those we love. Both the individual purpose and the whole purpose are vital and should complement and support each other. Part of the challenge of life is learning to develop the proper relationship between the individual purpose and the whole purpose.
Qualities of character such as humility, self-control, and fair-mindedness bear fruit in generosity, forgiveness, and service to others. These all express the fundamental attitude of living for others and placing the whole purpose above the individual purpose. People who embody such altruistic qualities are recognized and honored in every culture. These qualities are the basis for lasting, harmonious relationships and lay the foundation for peace.