Seek to Understand In Challenging Times

My “intentional” effort to remove Facebook on my phone has ceased with the Coronavirus epidemic. A full recognition that FB acts as a source of news, ideas on how to keep your kiddos busy admist the ‘homeschooling’ journey we all are on and a source of inspiration for random acts of kindness, I granted myself relief from the restriction I placed earlier in the year.

I noticed, however, that FB is still full of the political attacks from one person to another. I posted the video of Dr. Fauci struggling to hold it together while Trump announced the “…Deep State Department”, and immediately, was overrun by political comments. The readers assumed ill-will in my post; I thought it was simply funny and imagined how I would have kept myself together, knowing that once I get giddy, there’s no turning back.

That exchange reminded me of a post I had written for one of my prior blogs, which is extremely relevant given today’s environment. I’ve included it here today for your reading pleasure, and a challenge to “seek to understand, then to be understood.”

Diversity, Acceptance and Dialogue

On most weekdays, I call my Dad after I drop the kiddos off at day-care/school while I’m driving to work.  I’ve been doing this pretty much every day since I started my professional career. He’s a great sounding board for when I’m problem solving life.  Sometimes it’s brief and we only talk for a few minutes; others, like today, we talk the entire time until he hears my footsteps in the stairwell signaling that it’s time to go.

This morning’s topic: the debate.  If you saw my Facebook post, you could probably sense my frustration.  In the words of Pope Francis, what the world needs now is Peace.  Peace is obtained through DIALOGUE – a persistent, patient, strong, intelligent dialogue. The debate was far from that – accusations, he said/she said, his insult, her insult and no dialogue.  None. The moderators asked one question, and the candidates chose to answer their own question – not relating to the original question that was asked.  No dialogue.  No debate.  Just insults.  

For the record, I’m not a fan of either candidate and in turning in my Florida voter registration today, I almost selected the ‘Independent’ box.  

My Dad, who I think is a Trump supporter was arguing the perks to having him take the Presidency – as an example, Trump used the Government loopholes to his benefit and having him in office would fix those loopholes preventing others, like him, from taking advantage.  My challenge: if he found those loopholes, why would he try to prevent anyone from doing the same? I argued the good and the bad about Clinton.  Dad listened.  

And you know what I loved? The conversation was full of excitement – it was heated, when one made a point, the other was waiting to insert their view of the world.  And after every point made by either me or my Dad, the comment was “I see your point.” Not I agree, or I disagree or you’re wrong but I see your point.  I shared my perspectives from being a woman and growing up in my generation and my Dad shared his perspectives from growing up in his generation.  I left that conversation fully fulfilled, energized and ready to tackle work (and somewhat sad that the debate that just started had to end…but Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away.)

Then I started thinking and watching.  Facebook is littered with pro-Trump and pro-Hillary posts and some of my friends started debating – but it wasn’t the ‘I see your point’ that I enjoyed earlier with my Dad, it was ‘you’re wrong’ for having your viewpoint.  

And then I did some more thinking.  We have a two-party system in this country, where we take ‘like-minded’ folks and try to implement policies that benefit that party.  How, on earth, does that make any sense? Over the past 15+ years, the workplace has been focused on advancing diversity and inclusion and study after study has shown how bringing together people with DIFFERENT backgrounds, DIFFERENT views provides a better result, bigger bottom-line growth for the company.  It seems like we’re doing this everywhere but our government.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen how the party system failed, congress couldn’t reach an agreement and as a result everyone suffered.  Some individuals are so wrapped up in their ‘belonging’ to a group as a Republican or Democrat, that it’s blinding them from seeing the potential solution. And as a result, our nation suffers but more importantly, our children’s future suffers.  Instead of talking about the problem, and getting viewpoints on possible solutions, our congressional leaders look through the lens of their belonging and fail to resolve the problems.  Can you IMAGINE what the workplace would be like if every employee declared their party affiliation prior to a meeting? Every company would go bankrupt.     

What I would like to see in the next debate is Hillary and Trump discussing their views and policies and having a dialogue, challenging them to be better, challenging them to ‘think outside the box’ and work together to solve the problems that we are facing as a nation.  That is idealistic, I know.  

So I challenge you – the next time you happen to engage in a debate or discussion, share your views but consider the perspective of the other person.  Engage and welcome the dialogue.  

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