What Does It Mean to “Get Along?”

Dear Readers:

Recently, I’ve had several questions regarding why people seem to disagree about almost everything under the sun these days. And I have to admit, whether we’re talking about something as simple as weather preferences or as serious as politics, there does seem to be a distinct inability to agree on things lately. As one woman put it: “It seems like everyone doesn’t agree with me on everything. Why can’t we all just get along?”

It’s a good question: Why can’t we all get along? I do think there’s a reasonable answer to that question. And of course, I believe the Five Elements model will help us understand where the difficulties lie and, more importantly, how to help us all get along better. But before we start, let’s take a moment to define what it means to get along. At its core, getting along can mean something as simple as not fighting. Said in a positive way, that means peaceful coexistence. But technically, we could peacefully coexist with others if we just don’t interact with anyone. I go exist in my corner, you go exist in yours. Technically, we will be peacefully coexisting, but never connecting. There’s clearly more to it than that.

I think the real trick to getting along has to do with peacefully coexisting while interacting with each other. So, getting along might mean interacting in a positive, mutually beneficial way. Or even interacting in a way that benefits any whole of which we are all a part. This implies we all have an important part to play in the health and/or success of whatever whole we are discussing. A good example might be a choir. Some people sing soprano, others alto, others tenor, and even others sing bass. Sometimes we sing loudly, sometimes softly, and sometimes some parts don’t sing at all. But always, by design and agreement (and the way the music was written), the actions of each part are each taken for the greater good of the music itself. 

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