Thursday, 16 April 2015

What happens to you happens to me

As a father of children and a husband too, I have found it useful to make my commitment and support, particularly the latter, absolutely clear. When my eldest daughter was young and visiting me at my home in the Shropshire borders, after a painful separation with her mother, I once said to her, “Just remember, when you are thinking of me, I am thinking of you.” 

It’s a simple kind of assurance and might fetch all kinds of response in a five-year old’s mind. A little gentle and occasional repeating might have helped the idea to take hold.

But what is the extent of the idea? Actually it is massive. To a Christian, for example, it might be a way of understanding one’s personal relationship with God, the imputation being that God is the father and this is what he might wish to say. No harm in thinking this at least, for anyone can think anything about God at any time and – as Christian belief lets us imagine – He’s there to respond.

To a manager with a few very real people to manage, the idea but not the same words might be translated another way. You can think of what words to use. There are many versions one might figuratively employ to get this kind of supportive message across. 

For example, if I don’t understand you, you don’t understand me. If I don’t offer you guidance and support and show you the ropes, then vice versa – for the guidance and the teaching between any two people is always reciprocal.

Or, if you are a young man contemplating a punch in the face in a difficult situation, you might bite your lip and battle down your fear with the thought that if I punch him, I will also punch myself. 

Note the slight change of key in this curious song; I’ve moved from the mutual to the self-reflexive. This is because a progressive way of learning how to be human in a difficult world is first to learn, then to absorb the learning, and perhaps, when recognition of some kind of truth dawns, to take it to heart.

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