In a May 1, 1992, interview with reporters, Rodney King, a victim of police brutality, asked a question on national news outlets in response to the “Rodney King Riots.” He pleaded, “Can we all get along?” [Nation and World News, May 1, 2019]. It was a good question. Based on the last 28 years – up to and including 2020 – the answer seems to be a resounding “no!”
Think of the many issues over which America is so bitterly divided: Protests, “unlawful assembly,” wanton destruction of property, insertion of federal law enforcement, toppling of statues, police brutality, economic inequality, racial unrest, LGBTQ rights, a woman’s right to choose, the #MeToo movement, pro-mask versus anti-mask, assertions of conspiracy, big or small government, Republican versus Democrat, Democracy versus Socialism. These are but a few of the topics dominating the headlines
Survey several social media outlets to track how Americans are talking about these issues. Discourse is anything but charitable. Lines are being drawn in the proverbial sand with violence proffered as both appropriate and necessary. There may be signs of an ideological civil war at hand.
Now, step back from the national scene and think about how the same inability to just get along plays out on a much smaller scale in the home or workplace. Our failure to resolve conflict amicably may result from the flawed ways we frame and react to perceived problems. But we can change our paradigms to produce different outcomes:
- Disagree without vilifying or demonizing the opposition.
- Talk with people and not at people.
- Affirm two disparate views may be equally valid.
- Do not determine to prove an opponent wrong; enter conversations with the intent to learn something.
- Separate the issue from the person. They are not synonymous.
- Avoid accusatory statements; instead, ask probing questions.
- Do not attach meaning to another’s comments; rather, ask what they meant or mean.
- Treat an opponent with decency, compassion, honor, and respect.
- Co-create a strategy and timeline for a mutually acceptable resolution.
- Commit to playing nice in the sand box, even when things do not go your way.
Children, their parents and grandparents, pastors and congregations, presidents and congress, citizens and non-citizens, bosses and the bossed, show up every day in the same sandbox. Conflict is evitable, so Rodney King’s question remains relevant: “Can we all get along?” Compassion will go a long way in answering this with “yes.”
Randall E. Davey, CAP® is a financial advisor with Guide Advisors, Inc. In certain circumstances, he may offer insurance as a sole proprietor. He resides with his wife, Bonnie in Mesa, Arizona. Randall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 425.478.5668.
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