By Susan Hamilton
For all the name calling and division going on in the United States over the past year, we have made a choice, and although many behave as though the world has come to an end – it’s time to buck it up and get things done.
Did you really think a president was going to fix our ‘great divide’? Friends, it never was up to the highest office to make us shake hands and talk nice. The assumptions have always been that ‘that’s what grown-ups do.’
There will always be those among us who throw fits and behave poorly in an attempt to demand their way, they just used to go to jail for the kind of carousing we’re witnessing today. Seems to me, the way these people are letting themselves get out of control, it was probably a good thing they don’t hold any positions of power. What a nightmare that would be. But don’t think we can just ignore them or simply tell them to grow up. That’s all they know about communication. Well … besides, of course, what the news media has spoon fed all of us over the last several years. I know someone who calls them Thought Police, making sure with every comment that we’re hearing conversational propaganda over everything from the latest health scare in need of a vaccination to a sneered spin on any actual political news coverage we may want to see. Anyone who disagrees is often the butt of a joke, a negative comment, or called out by an ‘expert’. Voice a thought-provoking opinion and you’re likely to be jumped on. Yeah, that’s a sure fire way to engage opposition. Oops, I may have carried on a little, forgive me. What the hell has happened to us?
The point is, whether we’re arguing over truth or propaganda disguised as truth, we have to decide to behave and have a conversation. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to be so easily persuaded by Facebook, news media outlets and people who are not ‘solutions-oriented’.
Two cases in point.
I had the opportunity to go to a criminal justice rally in Austin a couple of years ago. We met outside and listened to legislators who are working towards more adequate reform. After they spoke, we were given maps to the capitol building and assistance to find out who represented our districts. One representative told me, “You’re right, you know. But it takes people like you to do something about it. Everyone thinks WE come up with solutions, but we only vote on solutions our constituents provide. We all know what the problems are, what we need are solutions.”
Huh … working on that.
Another time, very recently, I had lunch with a vibrant, young, well-educated young woman with a very bright future. She mentioned an earnest desire to go to school to learn more law behind her practice so she could better serve her clients. Noble. But when I jokingly mentioned a ridiculous clause I would like to see changed, she very knowingly responded, “That law is in place because it is designed to stop business owners from taking advantage of their large out of state purchases. If it wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be fair to others who purchase and can’t take advantage of the same laws a business owner can use.” Fairness? When you go through everything it takes to own, run and grow a successful business – there ought to be some perks! Other people are not taking the risks business owners take with every dime of their income, either. For years.
But she was second generation in the family business, and as anyone who knows both Perot Sr. an Perot Jr. will tell you – there is a great difference between the way they see the money they now enjoy, depending on whether or not they grew up in it or built it. Exactly what the democrats took for granted with the Hispanic vote. The people who worked hard to make it here as an immigrant resent big government getting in their way of enjoying it. They don’t like the idea that others who don’t put in the effort they did could walk in here and demand to be paid for. Duh.
A solutions-oriented person isn’t pointing fingers at who isn’t getting things done or whining about how they deserve some of someone else’s stuff. A solutions-oriented person is provoking thought leadership and perspective it may be very important for another to hear. People willing to be solutions-oriented will seek out others who just may have an experienced point of view.
Education? Experience? They both have value. In the first example, I was being educated by someone who had experience I did not have, and he did not have my experience. In the second, she was being educated by someone who had experience she was lacking, and I was learning from her youthful, highly educated perspective exactly how I needed to approach the issue to be more effective.
It’s time to walk the walk. Peace, accepting that others have the right to another point of view. That doesn’t mean I have to AGREE with that point of view, vote with that point of view, change my point of view to their point of view, or otherwise embrace their point of view. It means we need to try harder to understand each other.
The nastiness we see may take police intervention (though our officers may decide not to risk it) but maybe this situation can be improved when we are willing to have the conversations – open eared conversations, before it gets that far in OUR communities – conversations necessary to truly educate in love, through relatable storytelling and a willingness to gently repeat, as you must do with a tantrum-throwing child to de-escalate their emotional pain. Commentary and aggression are not working to change anything. This is certainly the time for the faith-based community to pray. From what I’ve seen, prayer is the only thing that has ever changed the heart of a people.
Surely there are those among us who can use the art of persuasion more effectively than we are seeing through social and news media. I think it’s high-time we get better at it, that’s for sure.
Susan Hamilton is the owner, host and editor-in-chief at OffBeat Business Media, a business for business digital media resource for strong brand development. Contact Susan at Susan@OffBeatBusiness.com or call 214-714-0495 to discover how an influential brand can improve the world.