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On a flight to Washington, D.C., the woman next to me was jubilant over getting married. However, when she told me about her first husband, I was stunned.

One afternoon she urged him to go to the doctor after he complained of feeling sick. While in the waiting room, medics ran into the doctor's office. A minute later the doctor appeared and said, "Your husband just died. Please view him before he is taken away."

When she entered the room and saw him, her first reaction was anger because, as she told me, "I didn't go over to his side after an argument we had."

Crossing over to the other's side is a vital principle of life; without it, misunderstanding, lack of peace and broken friendships often follow.

On Capitol Hill, where I live, parishioners are mystified by a Congress that often refuses to "cross the aisle." A person who sticks to his or her principles can't be denounced, but when the principle of heartfelt dialogue is summarily dismissed, the results are disastrous.

This holds truer in daily family life. Familiarity breeds contempt that often leads to hardness of heart between family members. Here the Holy Spirit's gift of understanding would encourage us:

"Look at your human nature. Isn't it contradictory to confine yourself with boundaries? Don't create blockades that reduce your freedom of movement because they end up creating paralysis. Demolish the psychological walls and cut through the human barbed wire you have constructed. Let life begin anew and be free again."

Today we live in an age in which hitting heads against stone walls is becoming prevalent. If we are liberals, conservatives could care less what we think, and vice versa. Some age-old cultures still hold lifelong grudges against other age-old cultures, and many marriage breakups are the result of hardheadedness.

Most important are the harmful consequences for our children when the principle of neglecting the other side happens. Our technological age is constantly bombarding their minds with images, some of which are good, and many that are bad.

With harmful influences assaulting children, the role of parenting has become especially difficult, requiring parents to go over to the other side to learn what most might be manipulating their children. And if children revolt over being overly watched, it's a sign of parental supervision at its best.