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Not Either-Or…But With-And

“You are not the only person with good ideas.  If you wish to be heard, listen.  Always seek to find the best way rather than insisting on your own way.”  John Wooden on Cooperation

Sometimes I feel like the Internet has failed in its great promise to create a global community.  Sure, it enables us to find like-minded people but that is also where some of the problems lie.  Instead of engaging in discussions to find a common ground and solutions to issues, we start to become entrenched–with the help of all of your online friends–and start believing that our way is the only right way.  We lose sight of the nuances in every situation and everything becomes “black and white” and “either-or.” At its ugliest, we start demonizing those who think/believe differently than we do.

We have a tendency to romanticize mid-century America.  We were the victors in a world war and were joined together to create the great post-war economic boom.  But there was a lot of ugliness during that time period, also, and people were demonizing each other.  It wasn’t just television that was “black and white.” We look back in horror that people would behave that way but are we really any different?  Take a moment and step back to listen to some of the stuff being said on the airwaves and on the Internet.  Much of what is said is designed to elicit a deep emotional response to bypass the logical and rational parts of ourselves.

We don’t want to replicate everything from that time period.  One thing that we can dispose of is that whole “us versus them, either-or, black and white” kind of thinking.  Solutions don’t have to be “either-or.”  In fact, in my experience, it is when we try to find “win-win” solutions—what I call “with-and”—that the outcomes turn out to be so much more powerful than what I could come up with on my own.

I remember reading somewhere that Dale Carnegie, of How to Win Friends and Influence People fame, said that one the most successful ways of influencing someone is to listen to that person and figuring out a way to make that person look good in the eyes of others.

And, if all else fails, we can remember that old saying my Grandmother would repeat:  God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

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8 Comments

  1. I heard on Good Morning America the other day that Thoreau said when post offices became prevelant, people would stop there 5 or 6 times a day – they were making a parralell to technology dependence today, and I thought it was a good point – it was less about being ‘in touch’ or communicating, then being excited by a new technology and distraction.

    My in-laws are absolutely in love with the 50’s – they grew up in Philadelphia, and while I understand how cool that must have been – I also think we inherited our worlds ills, and that (from a religious perspective) if living in the 50’s was just the apex of human experience, then the heavens would open up and we would all ascend, but apparently we have some more work to do! ha ha… Ann

  2. I’ve been thinking about the online community and what it means for several days. If you just consider this site (Modern Retro Woman), I think we are like-minded about this topic but quite diverse in other ways. For instance, I know that we don’t all attend the same church, but we lay that aside and discuss values instead of religion. Have we not found a common thread in our lives? We might say the same thing about politics and on and on. I think when it comes to fundamentals as presented by Coach Wooden, there’s not much to dispute.

    I consider myself a student of the mid-20th century — it’s look and it’s feel — with focus on certain aspects. But I know it wasn’t all good. People had trouble, but how did they cope? There was a depression, a horrible “dust bowl,” a Hitler, McCarthyism, racism, gang warfare and crime, etc. I wouldn’t wish to go back, but what carried “grandmother” through it? What were her values? What was her day like? What did she know about her world? What was she thinking about? And of course, what was she cooking and what was she sewing? Those are the things that fascinate me.

  3. Kathy, I think you bring up a good question–how did they cope? Of course, as a psychologist, I have a tendency to be fascinated by the “inner core” that enables people (especially women) to overcome hard times.

    I truly believe that part of the fascination people have with the past is a feeling that the “old values” are slipping away…creating a sense of instability. My personal desire to figure out how to live by those core values while living in today’s world.

  4. “how to live by those core values while living in today’s world.” Wonderfully put — and so succinct.

    I am not a psychologist, so I don’t call it “inner core.” I call it spirituality. Whatever you call it, Grandma cultivated it — developed it. I believe “Grandma” was a deep thinker — a person of depth and strength of character. Whatever you call it, it transcends education. In speaking from the heart, these people could be eloquent, and many were not educated as we think of it today.

  5. I agree with you, Kathy (and I hope I didn’t come off high falutin’ about being a psychologist…my awkward point was that my fascination with how people tick is what led me into studying educational psychology)

  6. High falutin’? — No, no. I was just pointing out — hopefully — how our varying points of view meld. (I’m cleaning the farmhouse this week to prep for a womens’ group coming out from town next week for a picnic. We’re doing things we haven’t stepped up to heretofore — like hanging pictures. Inspiration welcome!)

  7. *whew!* I was so stressed out last week from the situation at my in-laws that my writing didn’t flow from me as usual and I was afraid that I had ended up sounding high falutin’.

    Your women’s group is going to LOVE the farmhouse and the picnic!

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