(first published in Tucker PatchNov. 12, 2012)

Change is scary; we might see it as the end of our world; well, that might not necessarily be so bad, if we learn to work together to create a new socioeconomic world. Here's how to do it.

I'm seeing the beginnings of negative Facebook’s status updates pertaining to President Obama and the ridiculous movements of some states to secede. Some firms are making their employees pay for the economic change. So, maybe it would be good to keep things in perspective here. 

Change, whether we like it or not, is inexorable; it moves along and cannot be stopped. Somewhat more than half of the American people have indicated that they welcome the social and economic change here. Obama is the face of this change and, while a good number of Americans don't like it, it's happening. 

On the other hand, nearly half the American people did not choose these changes. They made an enormous effort to keep their idea of the status quo, and that’s a powerful point to remember.

Change is painful and uncomfortable at first - like puberty. Puberty is the manifestation of growing up; some burgeoning adults welcome it, and others want to keep the status quo. Our changes here in America seem to me like that.

This is America’s pubescent time, and it’s not going to be easy. The difference between our country’s pubescence and the teens’ is that ours is multiple, involving huge numbers of people and we have to decide whether we’re going to fight it, throwing tantrums, or we’re going to accept that we cannot stop the clock, and decide to make the best of it.

I suggest that, like the progression from childhood to young adulthood, both aspects of our American changes come with good points, on which we all agree, and some things we will have to leave behind - for some, that is welcome; for others, it’s terrifying because it affects their self-identity down to the core.

These changes don’t have to be totally an ‘either-or’ situation. We can create a new society, in which we all make important contributions.

Creating this new society means pulling up the best in each of us, and putting it all on the table. It also means LISTENING respectfully - with our hearts as well as our ears. True listening is much more than just waiting for the other person to stop so that we can jump in with our points.

True listening means looking directly in the other person’s eyes and allowing them to complete their entire position. It means respectfully asking questions in order to assure them, and us, that we fully understand their position - we get it. 

While we’re listening, we look for commonalities in our thinking; we can always find some common ground, even though it may be minimal at first.

Then, when the other person has completely defined their position, we repeat it back to them objectively, and ask if we understand them correctly. When they affirm it, we ask them to allow us the same privilege - to explain our position. If they have used colorful language, we set the example of respect by presenting our position calmly and politely, with no adjectives or name-calling. 

The next step is to express points on which we both agree, and ask them to do the same. As we make eye contact, difficult as it may be, we begin to SEE commonalities as well. Ideally, we all begin to relax and to work together for our common good.

So, instead of decrying things that will never stay as they were and trying to bring down our new political situation, seceding from the union (are you kidding?) or firing employees because we might have to part with some of our profits to pay for their health care, it might be better to create a winning team involving us all. 

We can use social media to promote these positive changes. And not only would we do well to work on our own approach, we’d do well to inspire, encourage and, if necessary, pressure our public officials to do the same. They work for us, and it never hurts to remind them of that. 

Who knows? We may even find ways to live peacefully together as nations.

And, in addition to our all growing up together to create a new society that will work for us all, we will lead the way for our children, grandchildren and for generations to come to live together peacefully, respectfully and productively, if not always happily. If we achieve nothing else in our lifetimes, this legacy will make it all so worthwhile.

 


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