I attended a funeral this past weekend. Two of the eulogists referenced the same Jackie Robinson quote, a favorite of the deceased:
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
After hearing the quote, I thought to myself about deep, abiding relationships and how the development of such is at risk due to emerging polarization in society.
We all feel it.
We all hear it.
Polarization within our country is on the march – within social and other media circles, and amongst the politically involved. If not already present, it will bleed into workplaces, our families, and it will impact our health and well-being.
The key to stopping it is to free your mind.
The Balanced Center is Lost Amongst Extremes
Our society has always embraced spirited debate. However, these times appear different ─ more anger, name-calling, and tribalism.
Disagreement is increasingly incompatible with respect. To disagree is now worthy of placement in a permanently discounted category of irrelevance.
Potential relationships are blocked, current friendships are hurt, the balanced center is lost amongst extremes, and prosperity is placed at risk.
Aren’t we all fatigued with all of the mindless, unchanged bickerings, wailing and gnashing of teeth?
Practical Ideas to Deal With Polarization in Society
Below are seven practical ideas to deal with the dynamics of polarization in our society:
- Seek Diversity in Your Life
If everyone you hang around agrees with you 100% of the time, be on high alert. You are likely missing an opportunity to hone your hard edges.
When around others who view the world differently, seek first to understand their life experiences and perspectives. Try to never question the motives of an otherwise genuine person.
We should be willing to strengthen our understanding and belief system by learning from others.
- Control What You Can Control
If you have a different opinion, debate the viewpoint versus attacking the person.
Don’t name call, because the person you just called an unforgivable name isn’t going to listen to a word you say thereafter. Assuming your grandmother was a nice person, act how you’d act in front of her!
I enjoy talking to someone with a different perspective as long as the other person is reasonable. Thus, I must show the same degree of respect when disagreeable points emerge.
- Take All of “It” With a Grain of Salt
Social Media is trying to get us to remain engaged with their Apps by pitting us against one another.
The news media highlights conflict to motivate our tuning in.
Let’s face it, conflict sells! Don’t provide more mental weight to these “in your face” outlets than they deserve.
- Be a Leader More Than a Bystander
If someone calls another an unforgivable name, call them out on it.
I believe we are “hearing” a great deal more from the fringes than we are from the middle majority. Be an advocate for civil debate.
As Voltaire (and others) stated,
“I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it.”
- Build Deep and Meaningful Relationships
Many suggested actions are worthy of mention in this list.
However, choose close friends who will disagree with you respectfully and provide a powerful pathway to becoming better. Invest in these relationships.
- Focus on an Agreeable Rally Point
Have you ever found yourself debating a topic and the conversation goes around in circles? Try focusing on a place of common agreement when this occurs. Such could include an ideal or common mission. Or, it could include a background story on why you see something the way you see it. Personalizing the debate around a point of agreement or with a warm story providing insight into why you see the world on way helps others relate.
- Show Grace
Don’t take everything you hear personally.
Final Thoughts ─ Free Your Mind
- Peace, joy and mental prosperity are linked.
- Free your mind to focus on what truly matters, as well as the things you have control to change.
- Work hard against the trends of polarization in society.
The effort is worth it when considering the impact we can have on the lives of others. If more people have this mindset, the result will include continued prosperity for our families, co-workers, businesses, and society.
Do you have this kind of mindset or are you still working toward it? Don’t feel bad if you’re still working on it, freeing our minds can be a difficult challenge.
Remember, the freedom to focus on what truly matters is worth it all in the end.
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