The Words of the Kaufmann Family

Some Elements in Reconciliation

Frank Kaufmann
February 15, 2003

Clash, and conflict derive from usually unexamined core or foundational differences, combined with myopia. Not "getting along" comes from the inability to imagine that any way of doing things which differs from my own A. can be a good way of doing things, and B. be done with integrity.

Ways of doing things are not merely personal. On a deeper level they reflect cultures. Cultures in turn grow out of worldviews. (Most worldviews grow out of religions, except for the small few that grow out of religiously held anti-religions).

Meta-religious (cultural) difference includes the Oriental/Occidental rift, the the sacred-whole/post-enlightment-atomistic-rationalism split, as well as the democratic/monarchic split.

The Oriental worldview is often considered "vertical culture." Position dominates, the status of elders signifies "more true," and "more correct." The occidental worldview is often characterized as "horizontal." It tends to be more merit based, and breaking molds is often more prized than preserving the eternal "original superiority" emboddied in the elder. It can be said that in oriental mentality postion trumps person. In the West person trumps position. The split between the "monarchical" worldview and the "democratic" one, parallels the Oriental/Occidental worldviews.

I had presumed these categories to comprise the major divisions in world view. I considered East and West to be the main and final line of cultural division. The largest categories; the spectrum within which all others fall.

A friend however introduced poles of a culture conflicts that never crossed my mind. It was presented as a clash between the dialogical and communal qualities the essentially Jewish culture, and the conscience based subjective certitude of the Protestant experience.

These sorts of culture-rooted differences are antecedent to efforts at reconciliation. They inform the respective partners in ways that confound communication at interior levels beneath consciousness.

Mediation and resolution requires that players become able to live inside worldview of the other to the extend that that view alien to the self is recognized as one which can be held with integrity, and and seen as viable. The position of the other must be recognized as not inferior by definition.

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