Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beyond Perls...

When I was 15 years old or so - I could have been 16 or 17 - I thought the following poem ("Gestalt Prayer") was really cool; so I wrote it down in one of my notebooks:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I;
If by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful
If not, it can’t be helped.

(The Original “Gestalt Prayer” by Fritz Perls, 1969)

A couple of years ago I found Walter Tubbs' response to this so-called “Gestalt Prayer”:


If I just do my thing and you do yours,
We stand in danger of losing each other
And ourselves.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations;
But I am in this world to confirm you
As a unique human being,
And to be confirmed by you.

We are fully ourselves only in relation to each other;
The I detached from a Thou

I do not find you by chance;
I find you by an active life
Of reaching out.

Rather than passively letting things happen to me,
I can act intentionally to make them happen.

I must begin with myself, true;
But I must not end with myself:
The truth begins with two.

(Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 17, No. 3, 77-79)

I now prefer Walter Tubbs version; but let's think for a moment about the differences between the two... In my opinion, the first version sounds a little too selfish. "I do my thing and you do your thing." "You are you and I am I." Of course we're all very different in many ways; but at the same time, we're very much alike. Ideally, we should concentrate in one another's similarities, in those things that unite us instead of the things that divide us; because as human beings we have a lot in common, even though history some times tells us a different story. There have been many wars through our human history; and we are still at war in many countries. We fight with others, others fight with us, and others fight with others. There's always a lot of division amongst nations, prejudice against different religions and/or different races, intolerance, lack of compassion and understanding - division, division, division...

So, I agree with what Tubbs writes, which could be summarized as follows: even though we are not here to live up to the expectations of others, we must "confirm" one another, just as we need others to "confirm" us. We need to value others, and we need others to value us (and we need to value ourselves as well). We need to work "together" and expect the best from one another (and the best from ourselves). We need to work as team players, united, together, with a vision towards a common goal: which should be PEACE!

We should relate to one another, reassure one another, find common ground. We must reach out to others, and appreciate and respect them, no matter what their beliefs are. We should not be so judgmental, so critical and so arrogant - believing or pretending that we are better than they are or that we're always right. Let's find peaceful ways to solve our conflicts, peaceful ways to communicate. We have the power to make things happen. We shouldn't stand or sit still just waiting for others to take action, change starts with ourselves. It's certainly better to work together!


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