There Is Nothing That Is Not Mutual

I took a long time to decide to begin this blog because I was afraid that I would very quickly run out of things to say. For the past two weeks or so, since the last post, that’s an issue that has come back to trouble me. It’s not really that I have nothing more to say. It is that I’m not sure where the line is between what I want to say, and what is fair to say.  What, that is, is private information that does not belong on a public blog?  Even if a story’s characters are disguised, one quickly reaches a limit where the disguise so distorts the story that it is too often not worth telling.

One of my continuing disjointing experiences of this blog – for any blogger, I suppose – is to see what the site reports to me: that there are people reading the blog every day and yet I have no idea who those people might be.  The link from the Family Focus Adoption Services website is certainly sending people here – the site reports that to me.  But it doesn’t account for all the numbers that are being reported as coming to the site. So, everything I write must be written with the reasonable expectation that it will be read by some high school kids (some have sent comments) as well as adoption professionals (some have subscribed) as well as my colleagues at work (both comments and subscriptions) and, of course, my friends and family members.

And that goes to the heart of what I wanted to say this morning: it is my absolute belief that if something is true, then it must be true no matter what angle or direction that you approach it from.  Which means, in turn, that if it is good for me, then it must also be good for you. Or, if it is good for you, then it must also be good for me.  It also means that if it is bad for either of us, it is bad for both of us. No matter how it may look, sound, or feel otherwise. Therefore, the only way to be even reasonably certain that something is true is to see whether or not it works from all approaches.  One of the reasons that we are so confident about our transition process at Family Focus is because it works for everybody. The adoptee gets all the time they need to make their decision about being adopted; the family gets all the time that they need to do the same; and the child’s agency is charged the same fee no matter how long the process takes so they lose nothing by giving us the breathing room that we need. Actually, by not having to pay for alternative placements, they save real money the longer it takes.

That is a very simple example of what I am saying, but it shows my point. In my experience, I have never seen this to not be true.  I remember one time talking to the very enabling girlfriend of a very abusive guy.  The young woman told me how very deeply she loved this man and that’s why she had to put up with his abuse.  She wasn’t happy when I told her that there would come a time when he would end up murdering her and then it would have been her “love” that had allowed him to become – even supported him in becoming – a murderer. Tolerating his abuse was obviously not good for her – but it also was not good for him.

This belief – the title of the post is the exact words – has been enormously helpful for me in understanding lots of things that I didn’t before I was given it (by Msgr. Huntington, of course). No matter how the train engineer, for instance,  justifies his driving of the Jews on his train route which is now terminating at the concentration camps, it cannot possibly be good for him, nor for his family, for him to keep that job.  What he is doing is bad for the Jews, and therefore automatically bad for him.   That it’s his livelihood now – and pension later – pales before the evil he is bringing onto himself and his family.  The logistics of getting out of it become political, of course. But the decision to get out is very simple. Not simplistic, as I have been accused of in my life. Simply: simple.

Deciding what to post must be measured by what is private to another. Violating anyone’s confidence or privacy is out of bounds.  And it couldn’t be good for me – or you, the reader – if it weren’t good for the person whose story I tell.  Simple. But it does make it harder to know what can be fairly written.

Jack

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2 Responses to There Is Nothing That Is Not Mutual

  1. Lisa says:

    As always, a thought provoking post and something that lingers in my mind.

  2. Jack,

    As I read this blog post, I was thinking of the way I look at my work as a psychotherapist, working with parents and children. I work with families in which there is serious medical illness, at times with children unable to go to school for months or longer. In these families, the mothers are at home with their children, often without a break.

    A therapist’s tendency might be to try to help the mother “take time for herself”, take a class, go out with friends. When you only look at that side of the equation, it may appear to be sound advice. But from the perspective of the mutuality, or needs of both mother and child, a therapist is short-sighted at best, destructive at worst, if the focus is not on how this is done, attention paid to the child’s needs, and, in fact, the mother’s need to know that her child is emotionally and physically safe.

    Following the principal of everything being mutual, perhaps eliminates selfish decisions, or recommendations of selfish acts on the part of “helping professionals.”

    Sandy

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