Thursday, September 22, 2016

Making America Good Again: Another Golden Rule Challenge

The news of more rioting in Charlotte, NC, greeted me in my newsfeed again today.  My sister-in-law asked:  "When is it going to stop?"  Good question, but which "it" do you want to stop? 

Do you want the police to stop targeting black people?
Do you want to stop the injustice in America's criminal justice system?
Do you want black people to stop disobeying the orders of the police? 
Do you want people to stop protesting in violent ways?
Do you want everybody to stop from forming opinions until all the facts are known?
I'm sure you have your own "it"?  Which "it" do you want stopped?

My challenge to you today is to take the Golden Rule and apply it to what you know about this situation and similar ones from other cities.   What would you do if this were your hometown? 

Today, "seek first to understand, then to be understood."   

This is the fifth habit from Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."  It is a corollary to the Golden Rule because understanding is an essential step in doing for others what you would like them to do for you.
How can you seek to understand? You should talk with people who have a different perspective.  In situations like this, the best you might be able to do is get your news from multiple sources!  The news media and social media are not trustworthy.  Balance liberal and conservative sources against the other, and try to glean the truth as best you can.  Try to grasp the facts and the feelings of those involved.  Seek out, as the Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said, "Not my truth, not your truth, but the truth." 
And then, find a quiet moment and put yourself into this news story. 
If you were the person confronted by the police, how would you respond?  How do you think police officers want you respond, and by law, how you should respond?  Do you think the police can be trusted?
If you were the police officer, how would you approach this situation?  How do you think people want to be treated as you approach them?  Do you assume that all, or some groups of citizens, are more likely to be criminals? 
Put yourself in the place of the family, friends and neighbors of the person killed by a police officer.  How do you feel?  What do you want to know?  How would you respond?
Put yourself in the place of the community.  How would you protest?  What would push you to violence? 
You can never know for certain how someone else might feel about or respond to a situation, just like no one can know how you would.  Different life experiences shape our thoughts and actions.  But empathy, a part of loving, requires that we try to understand where the other person is coming from.   It may not change your opinion, but it will help you understand the opinions of others.
Walk a mile in the other person's shoes - and then perhaps we can find common ground to have a conversation and prevent a conflagration.
Next:  Unity

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