It was a spirited discussion of Trump versus Clinton with supporters on both sides. There was a moment when I just listened, observed and smiled; it was the coolest thing. This wasn’t some news program, debate or viral meme. This was dinner with a diverse group of friends having honest discussion. This was a group of people with love and respect for each other who felt they could express their views and not be dismissed.
What do you immediately think of when asked to define diversity? Do you think of racial identity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, economic level or age group? Does your definition include diversity in thought? Diversity is an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities. That would include thought right?
The election this week brought a lot of things to the surface. People are unfriending family members and acquaintances on Facebook for philosophical differences and offensive statements. Popular media highlights the most ignorant and the angry creating making caricatures, targets for viral circulation. I found no comfort in the celebrations, victories, memes or protests. I felt a profound sadness and disappointment at a break with reality.
Do you want the governing parties to work together to find solutions? It is a yes or no question without disclaimers, provisions or disparagement. If your answer is no, you have to ask yourself do you believe in a democracy and that is another discussion that is out of scope for this post. If your answer is yes, even if you are kicking a screaming consider the following.
I often hear people say they find it impossible to listen to the opposing side. If you are one of those, have you seriously considered what would happen if your elected officials felt the same way? Conflict management tells us to listen to what the other side says and repeat back what they said in a manner similar to “what I heard you say is…” to show you understand. No accusations, no disparaging, just showing you understand what someone has said.
If you are angry because of a loss or smug because of victory, can you say you’ve listened to someone you know from the other side with compassion? Your conclusions and views may remain the same but if you can’t consider there is a remote possibility that there may be a shift in your world view, can you really say you’re trying to solve problems? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? My diversity includes diversity in thought. I believe we can work together and I know I’ve not been imbued with some super power that makes me the only one to think this is a possibility. Here’s to a future of hope.