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  • Steven Robinson
    Steven Robinson

    Living with Honor: The Power of Reciprocity Beyond the Binary

    Relationships are complex and wide-reaching, existing in any and all states: between the intimate, familial, political, professional, and social. All too often, these relationships rely on a false binary wherein one person is the perpetrator and the other is the victim. But when this dynamic is inverted to power and powerless, or betrayed and betrayer, rarely does it change the toxicity of the interaction. To break this cycle, both parties must be willing to accept their own culpability and take responsibility for their part. Such behavior requires humility, and should be seen as a gift that encourages the other party to do the same.

    This type of ability to own one's role cannot be understated, for is often the first step along a road of true reconciliation. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and acknowledge our transgressions, it gives our partner permission to recognize theirs. It is this gesture of humility that dispels oppressive notions of superiority, and invites understanding.

    Although some may shy away from such recognition, it brings necessary closure and contentment. Similarly, denial is scarcely a sustainable solution. We forget that what we ignore can come back to haunt us, stirring up feelings of resentment and animosity in both parties. Forgiveness cannot exist without accountability; so, too, compassion is reliant upon our capacity to commune with another, even if it is just within ourselves.

    It is easy to recall harsh words, hurtful actions, and lingering disappointment. Yet, such sentiments hinder us from forging meaningful connections that bring us harmony, serenity; and, perhaps most importantly, healing. To move on from a tumultuous past, we must appreciate that closure is hard won and ought to be cherished. To withhold acknowledgment is selfish and irresponsible. The path ahead must be charted through a partnership between two people, undaunted by past disappointments.

    This association of trust and mutual respect can only strengthen over time. As our sense of obligation and commitment grows, so does a sense of worth for all parties involved. In time, this will foster the potential for positive growth and the emergence of new and better dynamics.

    Therefore, it is clear that the relationship between perpetrator and victim, powerful and powerless, betrayed and betrayer is not an unalterable reality. Everyone has a part to play in ending the cycle that perpetuates such disparities. And while beginning the process of ownership may be daunting, the openness, validation and ultimately, liberation, that comes with fulfilling one's commitments to the other person are well worth it.

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