So, today I was in the middle of some long-standing family dispute that has reached a hyper-boiling point whose litany am not at liberty to detail here. Family matters are better kept within the family — right.
Thank God, the issue was resolved — at least for now, but as I left my mind delved into the details — it turns out most family conflicts arise from a lack of transparency in decisions made by either party.
This is especially the case in countries with a masculine culture characterized mostly by men deciding on key family decisions alone and only alone and yet most times when push comes to shove the negative impact of the decisions is usually shared.
The main reason men don’t involve others in many family decisions is that we’ve clouded our minds with the belief that we’re the breadwinners, heads of the family, and that we alone bear the responsibility of our families.
The fallacy with this is that leadership is never an ‘alone’ game — you might be at the front taking the shots, but when the shots go past you for some reason, they hit the ones behind you. Masculinity is not responsibility and definitely not leadership — it is ego.
I’m writing this to convince myself and maybe yourself that it is important to be transparent. Here are two reasons we ought to be transparent in our next big family decision, one is moral and the other rational.
1) Even the Chief Egoist is Transparent. Transparency is Godly
In the three main religious texts, God describes himself as the Supreme in Greatness, Majestic, and well — the creator. Who has more rights over creation than the creator? yet when God wanted to create humankind he said to his already existing creatures — angels and jinn; “ I’m going to establish on earth, one who shall inherit it — mankind.” This is a long story but it ends with God engaging and teaching the objecting angels lessons they didn’t know and finally creating us.
It’s obvious a creator has more reason not to be transparent than a breadwinner but if God took the courtesy to tell his creation about his plan it is because among other reasons he wanted to show us that following our ego isn’t always the best way to execute tasks.
That even when we think we have everything 100% in control, keeping everyone in the loop is still 100% necessary for a flourishing relationship.
2) We lose more than we gain in not being transparency
Let’s put opaque decisions on a gain/loss scale. In not being transparent we hope to curtail the other party(s) influence on the direction of a decision, but mostly to maximize our gains. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Opaque decisions also come at a cost — and it is huge. Trust is what keeps relationships intact. As one opaque decision piles onto another, trust in your family headship halves down and soon you are in an irrecoverable trust deficit.
In the conflict, I witnessed today, party Y and party X had long lists of ills they had done to each other. Most of X’s actions are outrageous to any listener and in several prior meetings, X was always the culprit because of the methods they used to bring out the fact that they have no more trust for Y.
Y’s actions may or may not have been ill-intentioned and even Y kept wondering what they did wrong to merit non-stop hostility from X even after 40 years in marriage. But the devil is in the detail.
Because trust is intangible and almost inconspicuous, it is easy to overlook its deficit as a cause of conflict yet most conflicts not just at the family level but business, government, and other institutions are always the result of a trust deficit.
Before we latch onto the hostile actions of those whose trust we have lost, we need to remember that our opaque decisions leave the other party no option but to keep guessing, and conjuring all kinds of scenarios, take irrational, even immoral and sometimes very costly and deadly decisions.
When we find ourselves in a trust deficit we are left with containing the damage which is almost always a bigger loss than if we were brave enough to cut down our masculine ego to be transparent in shared decisions.
And sometimes transparency isn’t about seeking others' opinions nor that the other party will influence the direction of a decision but keeping the other party away from the unavoidable temptations of guessing and the evils that come with it.