In the wake of another Sunday morning buffet of current affairs television programming, and on the eve of Independence Day celebration in the U.S., two thoughts occurred.
First — one who subjects himself to variations of the same tired rhetoric and political posturing week-after-week must have masochistic tendencies.
Second (and more productive), Sunday’s soundbite assessments of the week’s news reminded me that few realities are as cut-and-dried as suggested by the debates we precipitate, or the answers prescribed.
The things we care about most are rarely simple. Life is less defined by black-and-white lines of distinction, and more by complex shades of experience. Like the hues of a rainbow, one experience dissolves into the next. Easy delineation afforded by lines and boundaries fades.
And, while most of us appreciate this complexity in a rainbow or sunrise, we find it disconcerting when the canvas is personal experience. We are more comfortable with less shading.
So we impose lines, and endow them with enormous scope. Mere labels — liberal, conservative, red state, blue state, white-collar, blue-collar — take on complete dossiers.
These dossiers morph into agendas. Appearing right becomes more important than collaborative solution. Winning the debate — no matter the cost — becomes affirmation of a dossier’s validity.
Honest dialogue comes to a grinding halt. Shrill offerings masquerade as communication. And progress becomes rare.
Roadmap To Change — Time For A New Conversation
Every day we settle for partisan schemes born only of a desire to win, is a day we miss out on the discovery of whole new palettes of possibilities on the horizon.
If you’re like me, and tired of the noise; if you’re not ready to give up on the possibility of better solutions, here’s a prescription for change.
- Commit to intentionally listen more than you talk. (Worst case, this will make all around you wonder what is going on.)
- Embrace the contagious nature of dialogue. Forget about winning the debate. Focus on connecting and exploring. The result of dialogue is often redefinition. This is the seed of new solutions.
- Ignore labels. We are all much bigger than any professional, philosophical, political or personal label can accommodate. Definitions that come with this shorthand do not serve in the pursuit of solutions.
I am an unapologetic optimist. Occasions like July 4 in America bring this out. I refuse to believe the worst. I believe there are viable solutions to the most confounding challenges we face — personally, professionally and even globally.
Nothing acts more rapidly as an agent of change than real dialogue; however, the realist must acknowledge that change is not likely to start in seats of power. It is up to the rest of us. Pass it on.