“What a small world” is an oft heard phrase used to describe anything from running into a friend far from home to discovering a group that shares your particular interests. In the first instance, the phrase conveys a sense of proximity that is paradoxical given the size of the world and, in the second it denotes a social niche, a specialized group with shared interests. In both cases, technology increasingly serves to tie people together, overcoming the barriers of physical distance and obscurity. William Ury, in his piece “Stay Open” for LifeByMe.com, advises us to be both resilient and present when faced with complexity.
Professor Ury explains that avoidance is one of the most common techniques people use to delay discussing a difficult issue. Rather than tackling the issue head-on, we often retreat back into the comfort of the shadows while our problem lingers and negatively affects our relations with our counterpart. To avoid this, William Ury tells us to move towards the issue, or , as he writes, “Paradoxically as I engage with a problem, getting closer to the issue, I feel safer and my heart feels lighter, because I know I’m not stepping aside from the issue, but am moving toward the cutting edge.”
The advent of social networking has enabled people to connect and convey their message to large groups simultaneously, changing the way we relate to others and how we relate to the outside world in general. How do we all get along when, in addition to our commonalities, our differences can be made so readily apparent? Knowing this level of information sharing, how do we make the most out of the synergies and reconcile the differences between us on issues of common interest?
The concept of inner and outer peace, or as Professor Ury calls it the “courage to face internal demons,” helps us to understand how our avoiding a difficult issue and forgoing engagement actually leads to a lack of inner peace, which then affects the way in which we engage with the world. The key is to stay open and engaged with life, facing difficulties as they arise and seizing upon opportunities for synergy when the chance arises.