In the wake of BLACKLIVESMATTER, I am frustrated that the conversations I see on TV and hear at the buffet table stay at the surface. With all the shouting – “WELL, DON’T ALL LIVES MATTER – I am left asking anyone who will listen- Do you really want to know? Are you ready to sit down and have a real conversation? Do you know?
There is a big difference between a dialogue and a debate. Debating is what I mostly see on TV and experience with Facebook and at the buffet table. I am in the “dialogue” profession. I am not suggesting that everyone needs to see a therapist. I do believe though that all of society would benefit from learning dialogue skills. Our increasingly technology driven lives are leading us away from many opportunities to practice dialogue and conversation. If you can’t talk about ordinary things like how your day was at work, how are we to talk about tough things like racism?
I am offering these ideas.
- First, let’s learn to have a dialogue.
- Second, let’s learn to listen. Let’s practice it often and model it for our children.
- Third, let’s start to create a shared vision for what we want to see! Let’s talk about what we want to see be different and describe this in terms of what should be – not, what would be absent.
It is not enough to say, “you will not be disrespectful” or that “we want justice.” We must also be a positive presence in the community and know everyone by name and what things they do well or care about. We will have daily interactions that start with, “Hey there, how was school and what made your day?” When we stop and ask, “How are you?” we actually talk for 5 minutes. We will make eye contact with each other and smile.
Advocacy is important. For any movement to be successful, it needs to have the agitated and the extreme voices. But to heal and create trust, we must have dialogue. We need people getting together and making something real and tangible occur- homes built, jobs created, children placed with caring adults, plants planted and streets repaired. It’s even better when we can do these things and talk about it, too.
Policies have to change. People’s hearts have to be touched. We have to have a culture shift. Let us ask, what would it look like to get up and go to school in a community that knows your name, where you lived and cared about what you did every day, and celebrated your accomplishments. What would it feel like to be in class and have your teacher call on you and ask, “What was good about your night last night?” And, what if that teacher and every student in that class listened?
A true revolution is needed; one that includes all voices. All stakeholders need to have a meaningful role in establishing our vision, creating our mission, and assessing our collective goals.