Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Matters?

After 15 years, scientists in Geneva are firing up the Large Hadron Collider, a seventeen-mile looped tunnel. The objective is to smash particles traveling in opposite directions to understand matter, energy and Einstein’s theory of relativity. If scientists can create the collision, the results may be ground breaking. It’s interesting that only 4% of matter is visible! It’s also interesting that the collider could create black holes, small ones that would last only the briefest of time.

Parallel this scientific event with what has been going on in our own country. What matters? Does civility matter? Does compassion matter? Does critical thinking matter? Does the Golden Rule matter? Have we created some ‘black holes’ of ugliness? Do we really see more than 4% of the issue?

Outward expression shows inner experience. Adam McLean

No matter where you stand on the healthcare debate or where others stand, it does matter how we behave toward one another. It does matter that we listen and, more importantly, seek to understand before being understood. Our personal self worth is not enhanced by reducing the worth of others who differ with us. Anger cannot cure anger. Those who live by cynicism, insult, threat or epithet are in pain and heap their pain on others.

We often dislike a person not for what he or she is but for what we are. Anon

We seem to be smashing a lot more than just particles these days. Windows of people who have difference of opinion or idea are being smashed. Karl Rove was heckled and called a “war criminal” at a recent book signing. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri was spit upon by a protester for his healthcare support. Where is our civil etiquette?

Etiquette is a little better than what is absolutely necessary. Will Cuppy

Ambassador Andrew Young spoke recently at Anderson Auditorium, Montreat, NC. He pointed out that the healthcare bill is not perfect. The Civil Rights Act that President Lyndon Johnson signed in July 1964 was not perfect either. Young said it was a starting place. Civil rights has come a long way and by some measure still has a way to go. Perhaps it is the same with the healthcare bill. The only way it can evolve into a better bill is by all of us staying in conversation and not speaking hateful words or throwing bricks or spitting on people we don’t agree with. This is what matters. I may not agree with you, but I will defend your right to speak. That is what matters.

The world is looking for good examples - not advice. Anon.

The diversity of this country is a foundation for our success, now and into the future. None of us has a monopoly on the truth. None of us has all the right answers or solutions. The willingness to work side-by-side is what matters.

Stop the fear by overcoming your ignorance. Go learn and get new perspectives.

Your community will be a delightful community, if you are a delightful person of the community. Anon

Seek out people who have opposing viewpoints. Practice respect, active listening, patience and control of your emotions. Ask them to share. Just listen and then say, “Tell me more!” Try to step into their shoes and see the issue from their point of view. Suspend judgment. When you start to feel tense, take a deep breath and push back. Remain attentive. Pause. Ask them if you may share your point of view and your story. That matters.

If someone posts a belief, idea, or action on Facebook that you do not agree with, have a dialogue rather than an argument. Try to suspend your own point of view to get another perspective. Ask questions rather than add insult. Build a bridge rather than a wall of defense. Again, practice respect. Ask yourself if your point of view is preventing you from seeing the bigger, whole picture. Relationships matter.

Sometimes seek out news and information sources other than the ones you normally tune into. If you view FOX, turn on CNN. If you view CNN, turn on FOX. If you read the NY Times, read the Washington Times and vice versa. This, too, matters.

Finally, Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, suggests practicing Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so seriously! This rule really matters!