I've had a little time to attempt to digest all the discussions I've had over the past few months and try to integrate it with my past experience. There is one aspect of our culture that troubles me greatly. And that is our seeming inability to address the real issues that keep us from progressing. One problem is the need for "harmony" and the other is "not to talk about things that hurt feelings". And the two aspects are linked - but are they really?
This is how I think our "harmony" looks like. Major differences are not addressed. In psychology, particularly group dynamics, it is the unstated and unresolved issues that drive actions. So what happens is that on the surface we all look like we are getting along but in reality each is going in different and conflicting directions, and the net result is running on the spot. However relative to the rest of the world we are moving backwards.
In my experience as a coach, I find that I often have to deal with unreasonable fear and sloth. Translated to chess, this manifests as the fear of losing and the laziness to think. I don't know if you agree with me but I don't think we are born with courage or discipline. The child is often intimidated by the adult or the so-called strong player. But what is the reality? To me the reality is that the child can beat any player that he is better than - if his training is better, if his preparation is better. If it is not, he will lose. That is all. There is very little "luck" in chess. The luck is made. As for laziness, if you lose your concentration, even for one move, you can lose. So when I first say this, feelings are hurt. Nobody likes to admit that the lose was due to a failure in courage or laziness. Note: There is a difference between uncomfortable and hostile feelings.
And in chess, we have the opportunity to tell the player that again and again when we do postmortems. Eventually over time, with mounting evidence, the player starts to see for themselves. When and why they lose, move after move, game after game and tournament after tournament. And if they have some success towards their goal, they will admit. Yes coach, I chickened out there. Yes coach, my concentration slipped. For now they will have the confidence to admit. But this confidence is built over time.
Chess is about conflict. The conflict of ideas. And the results vindicate the better idea. And with success, the relationship between coach and player becomes better, despite the conflict, and harmony ensues. Real harmony.
So, in my mind, harmony is not the result of no conflict, harmony is the result of conflict conducted in mutual respect and understanding. Harmony comes when we are pulling in the same direction and achieve our goals. There is no better teacher than chess. A gentleman's game and a mental sport. The ultimate gift of chess is confidence, (courage in one's tested judgement) and discipline.