“When you see another as less than yourself, you are seeing through your fear. And fear, as you know, is blind.
No one is less worthy than you, even if that person’s behavior toward you is unwarranted and objectionable. Their fear makes them act toward you in a belligerent way. Your fear makes you think of them and act toward them in an equally belligerent way. Fear in one person tends to invoke fear in another. That is the equation of mutual trespass.
The only way out of the cycle of mutual attack and defense is to see your attacker as he really is. When you see him as a human being who is responding to you out of fear, you can speak and act in a way that will lessen the fear. That means you don’t attack back. It does not mean that you allow him to intimidate you.
Each of you must find a way to stand up lovingly for yourself without putting other people down. Your regard for yourself is essential. It is precisely that self-regard that must extend to include the other person.
Extending your love in the face of someone else’s fear is the most difficult thing you will ever have to do. Yet, it is essential that you learn how to do this.
There are many people who are anxious or afraid and are acting out in angry ways. I’m not just talking about murderers, thieves, and rapists. I’m talking about people who cut you off in traffic, call you names, threaten you or spread untrue rumors about you.
Many people are time bombs of anger waiting to explode. If you engage with them in an un-centered way, you can trigger their rage.
To handle these situations skillfully, do your best to refrain from making judgments about others and try to keep your heart open to them even when they treat you unfairly. By all means, let them know that you want to be treated with respect, but offer them the same respect when you confront them.
Don’t confront people out of anger. When you react in angry or defensive way to someone’s attack, you will only make the situation worse.
You do not have to respond to the fearful words and actions of other people. You can respond to what lies behind their words and actions. You can give them the love and respect they are seeking from you and their hostility toward you will cease.
I never said that this path would be easy. There are real challenges here, which must learn to meet. You too become fearful and act in hostile ways toward others who don’t deserve your anger or your blame. You must learn to apologize to others for these attacking behaviors. You must see the times when you are callous and unloving and take responsibility for treating people with greater gentleness and respect.
This is a two-way street. Everyone who has been mistreated by another has mistreated others at one time or another. All of you have the same lesson to learn in this regard.”