I have been watching current events closely. It appears that the divisions in the US between different groups are only continuing to widen, and a resolution to our issues seems more and more unlikely.
In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen clear evidence that the racial, social, and ideological divide (which I am trying to bridge) continues to widen.
- The June 17 shooting at a historic Black church, killing 9 and setting off a series of church burnings.
- The June 26 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, causing great rejoicing at the affirmation of civil rights for some and deep mourning at the loss of civil liberties for others.
At this point, it seems the only voices I clearly hear are from either extreme end of the spectrum, spewing fear and hate; only those who are deeply entrenched in their positions are heard. Under these conditions, the situation will only continue to get worse. Some have voiced concerns of a coming race war; others fear the further loss of first amendment rights. The future, indeed, looks bleak.
However, I believe that as long as there is life, there is hope.
Yes, I still hope that things can and will get better. I believe communication is the root of all relationship, and if we are going to truly bridge the divides we see here in the US (and in other countries as well), we have to stop broadcasting our entrenched opinions and start listening.
In the coming weeks, I will write more about what I believe we as a nation need to start doing in order to begin healing the divisions and schisms among us. I truly believe it begins with what Mark Goulston and John Ullmen call “connected influence.” If you’ve been reading Bridging the Divide for very long, you probably know I think very highly of their book Real Influence.
I believe their four-stage model is the key to turning things around in our country.
- Go for great outcomes: the US was once considered the greatest nation in the world, but not today. I believe the US can be great once more – if certain criteria are met. (Clarification – I am not talking about “American Exceptionalism” here; I will write more of my thoughts about this next week.)
- Listen past your blind spot: we do too much talking and not enough listening.
- Engage them in their there: we have to meet others where they are, not expecting them to come to us first.
- When you’ve done enough … do more: there is no short-term fix; we have to take the long view and invest for the future.
In the weeks ahead, I will lay out my thoughts on how we, as a nation, can walk in connected influence in such a way as to bring healing to our society. Yes, I know I am a bit idealistic, but I am still hopeful that we can find common ground and move forward as a nation.
Links and Resources:
Read my review of Real Influence
Series of blog posts by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen based on the concepts in Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In
YouTube Playlist of interview with Dr. Mark Goulston
Communication Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, taught by John Ullmen