By Aliker David Martin August 30th, 2011
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you
Every family finds itself in a conflict in one-way or another. In our different families, we experience broken relationships through divorce, between parents and children and between the children themselves. In 1996, I actively participated in a students strike; started dating a girl in a nearby school; and developed a new friendship with a renowned soldier for his aggressiveness in war, women and alcohol. This brought a deep rift between my parents and I as I learnt to take alcohol and sleep in dangerous military detaches during the conflict. As an adolescent, I kept telling my self, “I am my own man, I don’t have to listen to them”. Every day we experience differences in our families but how do we get back our true happiness and inner peace?
John Milton an English poet once wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of hell, and a hell of Heaven”. As I told my self, “I am my own man”, I was making a Heaven of the hell in my false happiness. Many times, we believe our minds without questioning whether it’s right or wrong. You don’t have to believe everything you think. There are times you have to give up the way you think to be happy again. You have to have the courage to let go the negative thoughts in your mind. The real enemy of happiness is the minds fixations and delusions. Look at the situation differently; see the truth and the suffering subside.
Africans believe enmity between relatives does not reach the bone marrow. During interpersonal family conflicts, we need to go beyond the minds and let go. Ajahn Chah a Buddhist monk once said, “If you let go a little, you will have little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will have complete peace”. As I was growing up my father would flog me to be as disciplined as other family members. But this only made me wild and full of anger and hatred. I always thought I was the hated boy in the family. I was never at peace, neither was I happy until I learnt to let go. I later learnt how much he loved me, when I was told he risked his life and confronted the ruthless commander.
Just like in a kraal, the bull that is better fed wins its fights. In the mind are two bulls (thoughts), negative thoughts and positive thoughts. If you feed your mind with positive ideas, you reap joy and happiness and vice versa. In Africa, names have meaning. Those who name their children Komakech (I am unlucky), fortune elude them. Speak positively to yourself and to others and you will find joy. I learnt to tell myself how much I am loved and found happiness in this magic and I passed it on to my family.
In the words of a Greek philosopher Epictetus, “we are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts of what happens to us”. I always thought I was flogged because I was hated but I was wrong. In every situation of a conflict that you experience in your family, question your thoughts; go beyond the mind and let go; and feed your mind with positive thoughts.