It has been a hard couple of months. Last night the conflict that has laid bare the deep fissures in our country were brought to a head. This election’s results were going to be historic regardless of the outcome. This morning I realize this history being a much longer story than I previously acknowledged. Although the election is over, we are far from resolution. Instead, the plot continues to thicken. Late last night, Donald Trump’s speech called for unity. On Twitter this morning #NotMyPresident and #FightLikeHell are trending.
Ultimately, the history, the story of our nation will be written by the actions that each of us takes in the coming days, months, and years.
Regardless of whether you woke up this morning with a deep sense of dread or an elated skip in your step, we have work to do…together. If we cannot understand the underlying unmet needs that motivate our “opponents” to vote the ways they do, we will not bridge this divide. In ALL my successful mediation and facilitation work, the best results happen when opposing sides can listen to and understand the others’ perspective. In fact, in moments of deep, respectful, thoughtful listening unlock similarly transformational deep, respectful, and thoughtful listening from the other side. It is only AFTER this level of shared perspective taking that parties unlock the creative solutions.
The adage, “Seek first to understand then to be understood” could not be more apt. However “demonic” we see the other side to be, there is nothing more important than working to understand the struggles, the deep vulnerabilities and desperation that this side experiences. When we feel under attack, many of us are tempted to fight back or sulk away. However natural, these responses will not move us forward. They do not represent the best of us as humans and they ignore the potential we have to choose a different path.
I acknowledge, this challenge is a real prisoner’s dilemma; there is risk in taking a “friendly” approach to one’s opponent, particularly when things are so charged. And yet, when we make this leap of faith, when we trust in the future, in a shared humanity, in goodness, we create opportunities that can be unlocked in no other way.
As a human, I will commit myself to continually trying to suspend my own judgements and listen more deeply myself. I will #FightLikeHell to understand the other side, trusting that they will then #FightLikeHell to understand me and my community. I will commit to learn more about the lives of people whose world looks very different from mine. I will work to calm my monkey mind and lean on curiosity when I feel drawn to judge and condemn.
As a peacemaker, I will commit myself to supporting deep listening. I will breathe deeply. I will extend a hand and lean into this work and keep the faith in our United (albeit currently thoroughly divided) States.
Let’s be real, this is going to be hard. Here are a few articles, books, and resources to help you along the way. Breathe…
- After Trump v. Clinton: How “Stronger Together” and “Great Again” Can Become “Great Together” by Jim Melamed
How to Get Beyond Our Tribal Politics By Jonathan Haidt and Ravi Iyer
- I’m Right, You’re Evil by Pamela B. Paresky Ph.D.