While I am highly opinionated and passionate about what I believe in, I have always tried hard to keep divisive subjects and politics out of my relationships. And, I have always prided myself on being able to hear many sides to every story and find compassion in all of them.
Over the past week or so, I have found this very thing almost umbearably hard to do.
Recent events in our country and world have me asking myself where and when is it appropriate to use my passion, power, emotions and voice to bring awareness to what I believe in most.
- Are these issues important enough to lose clients, colleagues or relationships over?
- Do I want to take risks in putting myself out there as an advocate for these incredibly important issues?
- Just how vocal do I want to be?
- Can I find a way to understand more deeply opposing opinion; and/or when do I stop trying when those viewpoints hurt me?
I actually have no answers yet…these are the questions that are keeping me up at night.
However, the truth is that the specific issues are not necessarily the most upsetting part of all of this for me. Instead, it is the nature of the discourse and the observation of such hateful human behavior that I am finding just so painful.
When did being “right” become more important than progress?
I have spent a decade studying human behavior and for many of those years, in the arena of supporting those who are navigating divorce. I have witnessed what happens when individuals fight to be right rather than allow the best interests of those they love most, usually their children, guide them towards the path that is in everyone’s best interest. My divorce attorney told me early on that my agreement would be “successful” when both of us felt like we had compromised too much.
She was right.
When I divorced, we were both left feeling as we had compromised too much, given up too much, and been left with a “unfair” deal. But, she was right. It was a successful agreement and one that was in the best interest of all us, even though at various times and in certain circumstances, it was unequal. It was unfair.
Yet, so is life.
There was no divorce agreement that was going to “solve” the fact that my children are children of a divorced home; which meant that the best agreement was one that would help us to move forward, in a highly imperfect situation, towards the creation of new normal, one that would allow all of us to thrive.
What I can’t understand today and what angers me the most is that we, as people and as a government, are not seeking any kind of consensus. There is no commitment to compromise, or to find areas of agreement that can be acted upon. There is no commitment to finding an agreement on even just one thing that can move the needle on our most pressing issues.
It seems to have become more important to blame those who are perceived as having gotten us to this place and to be “right” about what they believe will “solve” or “not solve” the issue rather than on making progress.
What we need now more than anything else is progress. Forward movement. Moving the needle just ever so slightly.
We need to come together and collaborate so that we can feel the tiniest bit of success.
Divorcing couples could spend the rest of their lives fighting over who is to blame for the demise of the marriage, and in fact, some spend years doing so. And during that time their children suffer immensely in the process, making their futures just so much more difficult.
What is going on today is not that different.
In many ways, how we got here doesn’t matter, because we are here; and the only option is to move forward.
We need a little success. We need to move the needle and make progress. We want to know that our leaders are seeking progress over being right, and focusing on the creation of a better, brighter and more prosperous future.
I try hard in my life to seek consensus, to try and understand where there are opportunities to move forward to make progress. And while I may make mistakes and occasionally allow my emotions to drive me forward, I truly believe that there is so much that can be done on behalf of all of us.
Why then are “we” (individuals and politicians), so unwilling to do so?
Is it ego and arrogance? Is it the money? Is it the potential for re-election, or popularity? Is it fear of having something taken away from us?
What is clear is that we are all suffering…and in many ways, unnecessarily. The truth is that there are so many things that we can agree on. Perhaps these agreements won’t “solve” the issue, but they may move the needle. They are ways we can take action, in partnership, towards what is in all of our best interests.
I am not arrogant enough to think that I am not a contributor to all of this in some ways, but I work hard in my life, my career, and my relationships to find areas of agreement and build on those. Perhaps I have not done enough, and I am feeling pulled to raise my own personal standard during this turbulent time.
I hope you will join me in listening more,
Seeking commonality, not difference,
Finding ways to agree and take action,
Leading through love, compassion and understanding,
And using your voice, your powerful voice, to contribute to making this country and world a better place for us all.