Recently I read a blog called “A Sharing for Men About Women.” It was an eye-opening blog for it started to challenge how we should look to define abuse in relationships.
In short, this blog was asking us to consider that anything less than a truly open and loving relationship between two people should be seen as abusive.
This in itself is a provocative statement, and there would be many – especially men who are not ‘violent’ towards their partners – who would take issue with this extreme proclamation, citing the fact that when compared to the ugliness of domestic violence, their relationship is indeed quite healthy. And from where they stand, they would be telling the truth – to a point.
But let us put aside such reactions for a second and ask what it is that this statement is really asking us to consider. For underneath its foray into the world of relationships, what this is really pointing to is the propensity of society to use the extremes of human experiences as the litmus test by which all else is judged. As human beings we like to look out at all that we consider as evil in society, and so long as our life compares well to such darkness, we do not question whether or not what we have is actually true.
The man who yells at his wife but does not hit her does not consider himself to be abusive by comparison. The man who controls and dominates the relationship by using his “superior knowledge and intellect” to suppress his partner’s voice will never admit that he has been abusive whilst he can hear the man next door yell and lose his temper. And, to add a dash of controversy to the mix, I am sure that we would never consider by light of such examples that the man who is quiet and acquiescent to all of his partner’s demands is actually living in a mutually abusive relationship.
In the world of comparison, all of these men would have a right to say that they are not abusive. Even the man who hits his wife can argue he has not murdered or raped her or broken any bones. What has she to complain about? She is alive and only has bruises that will in time heal. Whilst this may seem preposterous, it is how some men think, or at least behave. And who is the great moral crusader to argue, when they have used the same barometer of comparison to measure the quality of their own life?
Herein lies the ludicrousness of the way we measure our existence, for it is by such a mechanism that we create our own perception of what is, when at least seen through the eyes of our own divinity, black and white.
Comparison leads to compromise. Compromise leads to the acceptance of something that is less, and before long truth not only gets diluted, it no longer even appears on the horizon of our awareness. Comparison makes the world grey. Edges are no longer crisp, and clarity is lost in a haze of moral ambiguity.
Thus today, when we end up in the situation where we consider a relationship where both parties get on and tolerate each other’s differences, don’t argue or wage war on each other and are generally comfortable with each other, to be one that is not just acceptable… we consider it to “be” loving when by essence it falls well short of the forever expressive nature of what true love actually entails.
And as I write this, I know that there will be those who will read this statement and say – I have that. I have love in my life. And maybe you do. But how do we know, especially when we have used the evil of comparison as the corrupt mechanism by which we gauge all of life? How do we know that we have not just found a person who does not push our buttons, who by silent agreement does not challenge our preconceived notion of what we want the world to be? In other words, how do we know we have found a relationship of love, and not just one of mutual convenience that serves to keep us blind to the true nature of our own existence?
As Henry Thoreau once controversially wrote, “The greater part of what my neighbours call good, I believe in my Soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behaviour. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?”
What was he talking about? He was talking about comparison.
By Adam Warburton