Service of Reaching Out to Opponents

May 9th, 2011

Categories: Accommodation, Anger, Courtesy, Positive Thinking, Reaching Out, Responsiveness

handshake

I’ve written before about going to an all-girls school for 12 years at which along with academics, athletics was a big deal. The school had two teams: Each child was made either a “red” or a “white.” We spent hours honing our basketball, volleyball, badminton, running and hockey skills, and before each game, we’d also practice a cheer which lauded the other team. So if you were a white, you’d end a clever ditty with a hearty “Go reds!”

Granted this was an extreme and the opposite of today’s fashion in politics and business to mash, crush, pulverize, obliterate, bankrupt, belittle or embarrass your opponent and for goodness sakes, never be caught on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, email, TV, radio or in public writing or saying something positive about your adversary or competitor.

presidentonphone1This is why I was thrilled and proud to hear that one of the first people President Obama told about bin Laden’s death was President George W. Bush and that he invited President Bush to join him at Ground Zero. I was equally delighted and proud when I heard conservative talk show hosts lauding President Obama for his bravery in signing the go-ahead. They acknowledged that he’d have suffered tremendous setbacks had the Navy SEALs failed in their mission.

Instead of bashing each other we should recognize and rejoice in this model by extending a hand, including those in congress and on corporate boardrooms and Wall Street.

In this mature atmosphere, extremists appear jarring and discordant, like a wedding guest passing out discount divorce coupons at the reception. Countless callers to radio programs ranted about President Obama’s fake birth certificate even after he’d provided long form proof. The same ones are now railing about where bin Laden was buried, how the attack was flawed, all the while missing the point that the murderer is out of the way. Enough already.

Do you think cooperation and mutual respect at high levels can happen again and continue? Is a moderate, supportive America in the cards?

 cooperation

4 Responses to “Service of Reaching Out to Opponents”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    You dream if you think a permanent warm and fuzzy atmosphere between opponents will ever be the order of the day. It’s simply not human nature to applaud the opposition, and it’s not always a good policy to do so. The President showed wisdom in not crowing over a death which has severe implications regarding global security. The removal of such an abomination is always welcome, but it’s more than likely that severe consequences will follow.

    The school which prompts its students to cheer for the other team and which discourages fierce competion is leading them away from reality, along with failing to prepare them to deal with future severe knocks and blows from the outside world. What is needed is a strong minded population, intolerant of bullying and prepared to fight for its rights. That won’t happen when one believes that promoting the interests of an opponent, at ones expense, is cool. The schools philosphy bothered me as a teen, and bothers me now.

    Mutual respect at high levels have, can and will happen, but only between entities known to have sharp teeth. There will be few spoils for those anxious to give away the store.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I hope that the school no longer has its students cheer for the opposing team, an ancient and inappropriate approach to sports and life 1,000 years ago when I was there! I can’t imagine that it does.

    However as I’ve written before, I also don’t think that the fierce, angry, dog-rip-cat apart way that some go after their opponents is the way to win hearts and minds or confidence. Turn off the sound and watch the lips and expressions of many politicians and tycoons, especially the ones caught with hands in cookie jars.

    More important, with excessive fierceness we end up in a horrendous box that seems to grow smaller as the problems grow larger, and all that gets done is to bang heads against its sides while accomplishing nothing to get us out of all this mess.

  3. Hester Craddock Said:

    To repeat the obvious: different cultures have different ways in which they handle conflict.

    The culture of the school that you went to is most familiar to me. It was the preferred way of “playing the game” in this country for a then powerful segment of the population. However, it was at about the same time that another somewhat less powerful segment, paradoxically of the same ethnic background, practiced lynching as the preferred method of meeting out justice.

    The demographics of the country have changed dramatically. New rules and procedures are now in place governing how one fights. Now we have rights, but we no longer have duties. Officers of the court no longer seek to see justice done, they seek only to win even if it means that the guilty go free. Then again, seldom is anyone lynched these days, except when the legal means to punish an evildoer does not appear to exist, in which case we execute culprits out of hand.

    I admire the President for reaching out to his predecessor. I think he did “the right thing.” Unfortunately, I also think that he is a very smart politician and knew that if he did so, he would generate, with no downside risk, extremely favorable publicity, which he did. What I don’t know, and will never know, is which motivated more, doing “the right thing” or getting the PR for it.

    To answer your question, life and nature are cyclical. In time, humans will evolve back to being “kinder, gentler” people, but it will be a while.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hester,

    I do so much better in the kinder, gentler setting, in part because fighting is exhausting. However I don’t like Pollyanna types. I love to work with smart, creative, hardworking, people. Along with angry, nasty people neither flimflamers nor arrogant souls set well with me.

    If the risk that President Obama took hadn’t been so harrowing with a giant downside, my cynical side might agree that he set up a fabulous PR coup, much like that Thanksgiving that President Bush arrived in the Middle East on a surprise visit to the troops. I had to hand it to that President: FABULOUS PR move. But President Obama showed guts here and didn’t gloat.

    I think that the world you describe had been over long before I was still cheering for the opposite team. We were playing by the British rules when in fact, life, politics and commerce already had become gorilla warfare.

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