Sometimes we are confronted with seemingly opposing ideas we can’t hold at the same time. Both ideas seem to imply different positions we can’t be in at the same time. In coaching, a client described it as feeling he had hurt the other and at the same time noticing that the other person’s behavior didn’t seem fair. Both statements seemed to be true, and she couldn’t find for herself which idea was the right one.
Instead of trying to figure out which one of both answers was the right one, we worked on finding why both could be true for her and why. The point wasn’t to learn or define a truth. It was to understand how both could be true for my client. While doing this work, she started to experience both positions and accept the truth she saw in both until she could hold both at the same time.
Driving home today I was reminded of the mission Daniel Barenboim and Edward W. Said set out to achieve, that is to unite young Arab and Israeli musicians. The quest at the source of this work is one to search for alternative approaches to a political solution that could be brought to the Middle East. They established the Barenboim-Said Academy as a school with a curriculum that includes “intensive study in music theory and performance” as well as “study in the humanities.” The idea is that when “Students learn to listen to each other and develop their own ideas within a broad, interdisciplinary, and transcultural educational setting” they develop into “musically excellent, curious, and reflected individuals.” Such a project underlines how much work it can be to learn to hold ideas that can at times be experienced as conflicting too violently.
Daniel Barenboim also embodies this mission through his multiple nationalities. He holds the Israelian and Palestinian nationalities and was the first person to hold both. His Palestinian nationality is symbolic, which might show even more how courageous he is.