Can it ever be right to take sides in a dispute? Does it ever help?
I have had unfortunate peripheral involvement over the years in a number of divorce proceedings and it is always a harrowing affair, even for the onlooker.
The problems begin when you get drawn in and asked to take sides. It is never a winning proposition. Yesterday a relative of one party telephoned me and told me he now had to take sides. He would from henceforth only speak to X and not to Y.
I told him that in all honesty I had never taken sides in this long running marital dispute. I had only ever tried to broker peace and certainly did not intend to act any differently now that divorce proceedings had been filed. I was rather shocked at the attitude of someone who had become a friend over the years. I felt his attitude was immature, unhelpful and primitive.
As seems inevitable in the collapse of any relationship, there had been fault on both sides. The husband had spent decades shagging his way round the world, spurning neither his own domestic staff nor the County wives. And many more spread as far afield as Hong Kong and Australia.
The wife was a demanding woman who became, sad to relate, ever more self obsessed and aggressive. Not an easy person to live with, I would imagine, and totally unable to accept that even the smallest part of the blame could possibly be hers.
The end of a relationship must, it seems, be sad and difficult at best. Vicious and acrimonious at worst.
To take “sides” can only make it worse. To take “sides” in any situation must inevitably fan the flames and escalate the situation.
As in domestic relationships, so in the breakdown of political and economic affairs. I have taken sides in the past and I believe wrongly. Not in this particular marital dispute but in others and in various petty matters which seemed at the time to need my crusading efforts. How wrong I was, in retrospect.
Peace can only achieved through strictly neutral negotiation and mediation. Anything else will lead to ruined lives in one way or another. You can not, should not take sides. You can and should try and get the parties to resolve their differences peaceably and to part on terms which, if not amicable, are at least not going to wreck the lives of all around them.