Our country is divided. It’s a sad fact, not an opinion. A new phrase has emerged: “Cancel Culture”.
I had to look that one up the first time I saw it a few weeks ago. According to Wikipedia it’s a form of Online Shaming and is defined as:
The act of canceling, also referred to as cancel culture (a variant on the term “callout culture“), is a form of boycott in which an individual (usually a celebrity) who has acted or spoken in a questionable or controversial manner is boycotted.
I am going to begin by stating I do not believe in cancel culture. I believe in understanding. In healthy debate. In trying to see where the other party is coming from. I cannot accept that people/groups/etc simply have different opinions, and end it there, when they are at odds, are competing for the same resources, and have to live or work together harmoniously to benefit the greater good.
For the majority of my professional life, I taught and practiced the facilitation of teamwork and how to use neutral tools to make collaborative decisions. I find it difficult to believe our nation’s leaders (all parties included) try to undermine one another and don’t use these types practices on the Hill to work amicably for the common good. As a citizen, it is what I expect from elected officials making decisions on policies for We the People.
We have a national leader that consistently refers to “Us and Them”, “My people and them”, “Us and the ‘bad’ people”. Cohesion is not possible when the viewpoint is that there is a winner and a loser. At the end of the day it’s likely that we all want the same thing. Food, safety, shelter, clothing, opportunities to grow, and to be understood. If we start from the perspective of a great divide, no one will actually be understood, and the food/shelter/clothing/opportunities will only go to the winner.
When all parties do not benefit– no one benefits. Hatred, animosity, and the idea of being at war with one another continues.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Cancel culture does not provide the party who is being “cancelled” a chance to explain. Even if they are by the majority’s belief completely wrong, that person or those who quietly side with him/her will never have the opportunity to understand why others believe they are wrong. The canceled party(ies) will not feel heard, and we may never have the opportunity to learn why they think as they do – what their own hopes and fears are – and perhaps even have the opportunity to learn something from them.
Others will listen to us if we listen to them. The late Steven Covey explains being understood akin to air. When you don’t have it and cannot breath, it is the ONLY thing you can think about. When you have air, you can do other things such as listen. You can’t throw your opinion out there, say it just is and expect anyone to fully respect you. That doesn’t make you a leader, it makes you a bully.
Habit #5 of the famous Seven Habits Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Those who feel understood will be more likely to listen to another point of view and reciprocate understanding.
Until we listen and hear the pain of someone, even if you think they are wrong; no amount or type of explaining on your part will help them want to hear your point. More often than not, when you JUST listen you will quickly understand why someone or some group is doing what they are doing. From there, a facile leader or facilitator can create a common bond based on the ultimate goal both parties are seeking.
It takes a more enlightened person to listen first. Someone who has mastered the other 4 habits. The first 3 pertain to gaining control over yourself first.
Think Win-Win (Habit #4 actually!). Nobody wins unless everybody wins. That means ALL opinions belong at the table for consideration, no matter how crazy or wrong they may initially seem. You have to master your own demons and fears to be able to believe this and actually work with and listen to people you do not agree with. Cancelling suffocates those you don’t agree with.
It is possible to do things a different way. History does not have to repeat itself. Through technology and innovation, we have enough land, food, and resources on the earth for every human to thrive. We do not have to be at war with one other at all – EVER.
For dozens of reasons we are on the cusp of change as a human race, so why not join the crusade of knowledge that it is very possibly to live cohesively and for every person to have their basic needs met? Every human has the same right to life and the same right to be heard. We are all the same.
We all have that glimmer of light inside of us that, when not repressed, can shine and thrive into the most beautiful expression of itself. Knowing that, what is the point of creating divisions or holding anyone back through cancelling them out?
It is hopeful on this side of the fence.
That light inside of us… you can see it in others when you let your guard down and look.
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