Posted on December 31, 2017
[First published on May 1, 2017.]
As we outlined last week, we as a nation are building a wall. It’s a hella wall, as we say in Oakland. Brick by brick, with each reference to, among other labels, ‘Republicans,’ ‘Democrats,’ ‘Trump supporters,’ ‘anti-Trump protesters,’ we are creating a barrier to alienate us from each other. Unfortunately, we appear to be expert at our craft as the wall is arguably as polarizing as was slavery when it comes to creating a divide between ‘them’ and ‘us’ – where they’re wrong and we’re right. Where we’re good and they’re evil.
Our wall is more than divisive, though. It’s also causing blindness. In all of us.
In an attempt to help us regain our sight and the ability to live and work side by side, let’s review our Radical Premises:
To prevent the cement from drying, let’s add two more Radical Premises:
A Henny Youngman jokes comes to mind: A guy walks into a doctor’s office and says, ‘It hurts when I walk this way.’ The doctor responds, ‘Okay, don’t walk that way.’
Maybe we need to walk a different way.
Here’s how to begin. Seek out someone whose views may be different and ask, ‘How are you feeling about things?’ It’s a good start, a useful way ‘in’ to the conversation we all need to have. It’s disarming, non-judgmental, levels the playing field, and gets to what’s truly important. Not surprisingly, anger, frustration, and feelings of alienation and isolation abound. Many are upset, regardless of which side of the wall we’re on.
After asking the question, listen intently. No interruptions, no judgments. Cling to every word, like the future of our society depends on it – which it does. When the answer has been given fully, share how you feel. Not in reaction to what you heard, but in support of it. Find commonality. Sounds a bit therapeutic, maybe even simplistic, but it’s a start and the outcome can be valuable. Because, when done well, most will feel better and will feel closer. Critically, our ability to work and live together will improve. A hella first step.
Given the speed of our wall building, and the extent to which it permeates many workplaces, professional help may be needed to facilitate such a conversation. Don’t delay. The cement is still moist.
We can stop building the wall anytime we choose. How about now?
To a very happy and healthy 2018. May this be our best year yet!
We’ll be back live next Monday. See you then.