Relationships are Complicated Journeys

"What happens when the irresistible force runs into the immovable object?" As a young man, this famous paradoxical question used to fascinate me.

Recently, I recalled this old logic question while thinking about relationships between human beings. I was thinking about such relationships as parents (or guardians) with their children, teachers with their students, employers with their employees, pastors with their congregations, and government officials ("honest" politicians, "important" bureaucrats, and "infallible" federal agents) with their citizens. Also to be considered are military officers of higher rank with military personnel of a lower rank.

All of the above relationships have the same societal structure--that of those in authority with those under authority. At this point, I would like to introduce a self-evident postulate which states that "authority without liberty is tyranny, and liberty without authority is anarchy."

What I find very interesting is that if you ask people which direction--toward tyranny or toward anarchy--they see taking place in most of the above mentioned relationships, some would argue "more and more tyranny." Some others would argue "more and more anarchy." The balance of people would either give you some other answer or would say they do not understand the question.

Now, I would like to inject my personal opinion in all of this. I believe that all of the human relationships I have listed in this letter work best when those in authority love and sacrifice for those under their authority. But that is only half of the equation. I also believe that those under authority must appreciate and obey those in authority over them.

A complete breakdown occurs when both sides of a relationship fail, out of selfishness and arrogance, to fulfill their function in the relationship. When parents love their children and sacrifice their own self-interests for them without receiving a return of appreciation and obedience from their children, the parents can be very disheartened. Likewise, children who try to appreciate and obey parents who fail to show love and unselfish sacrifice for them, are in an uncomfortable authoritarian relationship.

Those who wish to examine the "husband and wife" as well as the "God and Humanity" relationships may be able to see the same principles at work. God's unconditional love and sacrifice for His creation is beyond human understanding. All that God asks of human beings is their appreciation and obedience.

Husbands who do not love and sacrifice their own self-interests for their wives will justly reap the wild wind. A rebellious student has the maximum opportunity to exhibit appreciation and obedience if he or she has a teacher who is able to show a genuine loving concern for that student and is willing to make a sacrifice for that student's benefit.

The word "sacrifice" is often misunderstood as "something given up for nothing in return." The true meaning is--"The surrender of something of value for the sake of something else."

I believe the answer to my earlier question is that there is movement in both directions of tyranny and anarchy at the same time in all of our relationships. Too many in authority are lacking love and becoming more and more self-centered. At the same time, too many under authority feel little appreciation for those in authority over them, while behaving like rebels without a cause.

There is true liberty under good and just authority. God has shown us the way if we will only love our neighbors as ourselves. The formula is on the blackboard!

--Kenneth J. Wolf #45 (08/12/95)

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