Thursday, 19 December 2013

Harville Hendrix may be a liberal....

I've got a lot of time for Harville Hendrix. He's a marital counsellor, and I've discovered him through Psychology Today, and other areas of the internet. In an nutshell, for those that aren't familar with him, he argues that if we can see the other person's point of view, and reduce our perception to a perspective - i.e. admit that we may not be correct - it's just the way we see the world and other viewpoints can be just as valid - that helps in marriages and other relationships. It boils down to "I see what you mean, I disagree, (perhaps including "I'm sad about that" if that's the way you feel) and that's OK" as far as I can divine. 

Now, what good can a relationship / marital counsellor's advice have to offer us in the political sphere? Well, again I was struck by a blog of Hopi Sen's this week, about a twitter break. I did the same thing over Lent, take an enforced break from twitter. The thing that interested me most about Hopi's article was that he says he was resisting the temptation to point out that people are WRONG.

Which provoked me to look up this article by Harville. It's a fantastic piece that I recommend you read all the way through, combining politics, philsophy and psychology - which would be my dream degree by the way - as an analysis of the human condition, and may have some thought-provoking points for you.

In particular tho, I was struck by the fact Harville says something distinctly liberal: 

"You know, it reminds me on a personal scale of something that happens on a political scale of well. I'm thinking of utopias — how we have this dream of a perfect society characterized by unanimity and perfection but, in fact, utopias tend to either fall apart or turn disastrous fairly quickly.  Whereas if you accept that differences of opinion exist instead of trying to eradicate them, you can achieve a more stable society. It sounds like the same goes for relationships — that the dream of unanimity and perfection is ultimately destructive."
It reminds me of why I am a liberal, thinking that if people want to dance to repetitve beats in the countryside, where a farmer has agreed for them to use his land that should be allowed if it's not harming anyone else. But as human beings, at least at the moment, many people want to stop other people living differently to them.

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