Letter From the President

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Families, friends and a clash of worldviews.

How was your Thanksgiving?  I had a wonderful gathering with family and friends. At the end of the holiday week, I was exhausted. Not just by the extra effort of cooking, cleaning and entertaining.  Also by the extra effort to not upset the worldview of my family members. They are very uncomfortable talking about politics or any national issues. And of course, that means that most of my life is “off-limits” for discussion. AARGH!!!

As I relayed my holiday story to my friends, I realized that what my family is protecting is their worldview -- because they live a “Mayberry” life where everything is nice, predictable and safe. Everyone knows their place and hard work has gotten them a comfortable life. They believe (or want to believe) the whole world is like Mayberry. Any intrusion of a different reality may cause them to re-evaluate their worldview -- and risks losing Mayberry for them.

And this leads me to a quandary. I want my family to be curious about the world and explore multiple world views with the same curiosity and wonder that I have. And I’m completely unable to change another person’s behavior. How can my family actually KNOW me without talking about this?  

The truth is, they might never know me fully. I love them too much to insist...and I won’t risk our relationship. Remember that decisions are first made in our lizard brains...assuring survival of the species. And when our survival is assured, we add nuance and texture with our emotional brain, increasing the quality of our relationships. Only when we are physically and emotionally secure, can our rational brain engage in a meaningful way. The rational conversation is the one I want to have… but I know that unless they feel completely safe, my reality and accompanying facts are off limits.

What about you? Do you have folks who react to your “facts” with fight/flight or blame/shame stories? These are the responses from the lizard and emotional brains, respectively. Facts will never convince others when they feel their survival or relationships are at risk. So where do we start? I would go for empathy and compassion as the first step.

But I don’t really know what comes next.  Or how long it might take. I do know that it is the only hope we have of healing our country and building a shared narrative to the future. 


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