It’s amazing how a little item like a mask can be the source of such social division and outrage. Yet I have a simple thought to consider this morning, on how we got to this point.
Take a look at your social media feed, especially Facebook and Twitter. Count the number of responses of kindness and understanding.
That probably didn’t take long.
Now count all the posts that dismiss someone, something or their behavior.
My guess is you would never run out of examples.
Here’s a few from my feed:
- Folks don’t care about anyone other than themselves.
- Americans are hicks and hayseeds and won’t listen to science and reason.
- The government is trying to take away freedom.
- Nobody is going to tell me what to do.
- People are just plain stupid.
- Why can’t you just wear the f****n mask!?!?
Somewhere missing in our social conversation is the art of disagreement. Holding a different opinion than my neighbor should be expected and at the least, like the old bumper sticker pronounced, tolerated. Disagreement is healthy and normal, or I should say, it should be.
A serious problem lies in the dismissive spirit through which disagreement is filtered. My response to any controversy is representative of both my personal bias about my ideas and my conviction of who you are as a person.
I wear a mask when I go out in public. I don’t like the conflicting reports I come across that challenge the science and research behind it’s effectiveness. I see the common sense in it and since I have other priorities, I’m not going to die on that battlefield.
A mask is an easy thing for me to adopt, but a mask is not what piques my interest. I want to know why you think the way you do about it. I want to know why it’s a big deal for you either way. It makes for a better conversation
When I listen to friends who are either pro or anti-mask, I pay attention to a common denominator on both sides. I almost always see a reaction of dismissiveness. It’s easy to put someone down with whom I disagree, call them a name and dismiss their point of view. I don’t have to engage them any further. But when a person feels dismissed, they feel unseen and unheard. The human spirit does not do well when ignored.
To be an effective leader, I’ll never change anyone’s mind unless I make them feel heard, especially if we don’t agree.