Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Election Day: Will Civility Emerge?
On election day, I’m taking a moment away from my traditional commentary and analysis of speakers and public communicators, and instead talking about people you may never meet, but certainly know someone just like them. Whether your party hat is red, blue, or tea green, the message is for everyone. This election season we all seemed to have forgotten the value of diversity, not in the way you may think…so please keep reading.
Over the last couple of months I’ve seen more than a fair share of hostile posts, negative attack ads and shock jocks who make money whenever they can make some over-the-top extreme comment that really pushes the proverbial envelope. In the last two days, I’ve had no fewer than 30 of my own Facebook Friends post how they can’t wait for Wednesday and the end of the election so they can stop hearing the fighting. Each has commented on how they have “unfriended” or “unfollowed” others because of their extreme views on one side of an issue or another. I am among those who has been utterly amazed at the amount of hate, disrespect, intolerance and sheer offensive bigotry (as if there’s any other kind) expressed in traditional and social media.
It’s been said that one’s true colors come out when they feel backed up against a wall. What I want to know is when did ANYONE get backed against a wall because of an election? We’re trying to improve a country that took a very steep fall, five years ago. FYI, that puts us ALL along the same wall. We all should be at the table talking solutions and throwing everything out there, not just from one side or another.
So let me ask the next series of questions in hopes of sparking some introspection:
- What does it say about an individual if they can’t hear someone else’s opinion and respectfully disagree?
- What does it say about an individual if they can only see people as members of some larger “category” to the point that they can only say “those people” or “you know how THEY are?”
- When was the last time someone lumped you into a category and you were offended because you were not who “they thought you were?” Did you like it? (FYI, if you said it never happens to you, you’re wrong. It’s just happened behind your back, so you didn’t know about it.)
- When was the last time you made an assumption about someone else, and then after you got to know them, figured out you were wrong (in part or completely)?
- How boring would your life be if you only spent time with people who agreed with you?
- How cool was it, the last time you learned something new that changed your life?
- When was the last time you knew there was a better solution to a problem than the one you came up with, but needed (or lucked up and found) someone else to show you the way?
In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, Governor Christie, a strong and vocal Republican, and President Obama, the leading Democrat in the country, met on the tarmac and went to work. They surveyed the damage and devastation. President Obama said whatever you need we’re here for you. Governor Christie said, thank you. Now, to hear the extreme media tell it, there was some “back door agreement” that for saying thank you and accepting help, the Governor must have said he would support the President in the election and say nice things.
Have you read anything about Governor Christie? He’s a far cry from a shrinking violet! But more importantly, have you seen New Jersey? There are so many parts in shambles, help would be welcomed from anyone who’s willing to give it. So I ask, what does it say about an individual who believes the only way someone does the right thing, is if there is personal gain to be had? It likely means that’s the only way that individual would do a good thing. But let’s leave that to the individual, and not sell the rest of us, with eyes, ears and a heart that works, short. You saw musicians and entertainers, NYC marathon runners, and just plain citizens from all over donating their time, food, power, and hotel rooms. They participated in a fundraising broadcast, for free, to help those who were in need and hurting. What was their personal gain? Nothing. Good people do the right thing, because it’s the right thing.
Obama and Christie discussed the needs, the solutions, and the wish lists for the people of New Jersey, and went their separate ways. My money is on Governor Christie still voting his party with Mitt Romney, and President Obama living up to every bit of support he offered to the Governor. You have two people who don’t like each other, have criticized each other, but in crisis, when their backs were against the same wall they actually did the right thing and worked together. Their true colors were that they were BOTH good people. Wouldn’t it be great if we all did that?
NO ONE wins if we only look a problem through one set of eyes. No one wins when there’s only one viewpoint expressed. The issue becomes whether we can be secure enough in ourselves that if we hear something we like, even from someone we don’t necessarily care for, that we take the idea for what it is and not throw it out simply because we don’t like the messenger? Diversity is about more than just race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. It’s about having enough different ideas represented at the table to get the best solution. Maybe if we all focus on that, we won’t have the hate mongering that seems to be running rampant.
Vote your interests, based on your own research and not what the loudest voice tells you. Do your own homework, your own assessment of where the positions match against your needs, goals and interests. See how the candidates in all of the races match up against what you have decided in a thoughtful manner. THAT is what elections are about, making your own well-informed decision.
Learn from Democratic President, Barak Obama and Republican Governor, Chris Christie. You can work together with people with whom you don’t agree, or even like, when you each focus on the shared goal and not the messenger. As always, this holds true in politics and every business communication setting.
Communicate to Connect!
The comments are closed.