Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Removing the Beam From One's Eye

As someone who's written in favor of goodwill between men and women, I am asked such questions as “what if you've found terrible things in your partner's character?” The response to that is, By what code? If you are using Adler or Freud or self-esteem psychology toward that effect, then your analysis is going to be wrong. You may find things that these people think to be terrible that are not terrible at all. If you are applying a wrong reference point, you will come up with wrong conclusions.

I have seen such conclusions made by contemporary psychology. Someone may be genuinely altruistic and like helping people, only to be told that this is a product of low self-esteem. Someone may want to love and be loved, only to be told that this is the product of narcissism. I take issue when good things are presented as bad things. And we see plenty of that in psychology.

When people have wrongful expectations, usually as a result of wrongful beliefs such as the above, they are going to find nobody whom they would find of good character. When expectations are absurd ones or incorrectly informed, nobody will be able to meet them. There will be people pretending to meet them. They are known as players. One would have screened out most of what is out there and wound up with absolutely the worst.

The Greeks made a similar mistake. They applied ridiculous standards toward women. No human woman could meet the standards they set. Then they decided that women were inferior or evil. They became misogynistic, and they passed that attitude to posterity. Women are still suffering today as a result.

Similarly, the misandrists became that way because they applied to men ridiculous standards – standards that no human male could meet. So they decided that men were bad – an error mirroring that of the Greeks.

Now seeing all this, some men are of the opinion that one should not love women because they are not perfect. Barring the issue of what it means to be perfect, this opinion is wrong. A woman may not be perfect by one's definition, but she still may possess good qualities; and she would be lovable, whether or not she is perfect.

Probably the worst approach to relationships that I have found is in that of the perfectionist. These people see only the dirt. However good the partner may be, they will still find all sorts of things to pick on in their character. They make everyone miserable, including themselves. They only see bad things and they see nothing else. This is not only a recipe for misery but complete ingratitude. They get all sorts of value out of the relationship; but they only see the imperfections in the partner and treat them accordingly. This is not only destructive, it is dishonest. If one really thinks that the partner is bad then he should not be with her at all. And if one gets things of value out of the relationship, then he is obligated to treat the partner right.

This behavior is more common in men than it is in women; but there are women who do this as well. They justify themselves in their behavior by claiming that men are evil – in the same way as men who behave this way justify their behavior by claiming either that women are evil or that their partner is. In both cases, the solution is to call the bluff of the person doing this. Say simply, “If I am so bad then why are you with me?” Let them find someone else whom they think is perfect. In most cases they will wind up missing what they had.

Another approach is the Christian one. “Remove the beam from your eye before removing the splinter from your brother's.” Now I do not necessarily understand how one can remove a beam from one's own eye, seeing that it is in his eye; but maybe such thing is possible with the help of mirrors. Of course most mirrors are convex and contain their own beam. The more mirrors – and especially the more cross-cultural mirrors – one finds, the more one can decide what is the beam in one's eye and what is the beam in the mirrors. This process works toward removing the beam in everyone's eyes, if they don't kill one another first.

Conflict in relationships is inevitable; what says things either for or against the partners is how it is handled. Same with all sorts of conflicts all around the world. People are attached to whatever is in their eyes, whether it is a beam or anything else. The process of which I am speaking is dangerous. It is however necessary if any kind of actual clarity is to be achieved.

When I write on social issues, some people claim that what I am doing is evil. It is not anything of the sort. I strive to make clear all sorts of matters on which all sorts of people are confused. If someone has a legitimate criticism of me – as opposed to a wrongful one – I would listen to it. If there is a beam in my eye, I am open to removing it. I will not however remove my retina and become blind.

In all cases, the question to ask is, What is the eye and what is the beam in the eye? What is there legitimately and what is not there legitimately? What inhibits vision and what is vision? What does one need to get rid of? What does one need to keep? If psychology thinks that there's something wrong with helping people or with loving people, then that is the beam in the eye of psychology. In such a situation, one is doing a good thing by helping to remove such a beam.

I would remove the beam in my eye, but I would not remove my retina in order that I look good in a convex mirror. I would scrutinize myself, but I would also scrutinize those who scrutinize me. In both cases the process works toward the clarity of everyone involved; and for as long as they do not kill one another in the process this is what needs to happen whenever cultures – and perspectives – conflict.

So when one talks about bad things in the partner's character, one needs to specify this: By what code? If one's code is wrong, then one would see good things as bad things and bad things as good things. If one's perspective is based upon wrong theories, then the problem is with one's perspective. Specify the nature of the mirror. And then one can see what is the beam in one's eye and what is the beam in the mirror.


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