Conflict resolution

I didn’t know if I would publish this, and I’m a day late, but here I am anyway. I’m worrying what people will think, but nothing changes. Deep breath…

As many people have been, I’ve spent the last week or so mulling over the results of the US election and thinking about how things are a little out of sorts (massive understatement I know) the world over; politically, religiously, environmentally.

My blogging and writing doesn’t normally stray into those kinds of arenas, which is probably where my reticence to write about all this come from. But as I pondered away two things have kept coming back to me.

Democracy

Firstly, it’s not so much the result that bothers me (although it is shocking) as that there is so much conflict, and name calling or labelling, between each camp(supporters or officials). Much as there was and still is between the Leave and Remain campaigns for the EU referendum. This leaves me feeling uneasy.

Isn’t democracy and the fundamental right of an individual to express their opinion (whether you agree with it or not) through voting in an election or referendum something we should be upholding? I’d much rather a democracy that I disagreed with than a dictatorship I wasn’t allowed to disagree with.

In that context, the anger and outrage against the result feels more like being a sore loser. The results of both the mentioned contests were very close and perhaps that is where this stems from. But maybe the Democrats and the Remain campaigns didn’t do a good enough job of influencing, winning people over to their point of view?

Language

And here’s the second point – when I thought about how people were referring to the opposing side all I think of was some of the language being used felt like being in the school playground. The social media bubbles that we exist in usually validates our existing stance rather than challenge it, so it can start to get a little egged on as it were. That’s not persuading others.

I voted to leave the EU at the referendum in June, because I believe that the machination of the European government is far too large and clunky to achieve positive results and economically the needs of different areas of Europe are too diverse. For me immigration had nothing to do with it because the world is more than the EU; we have people here from all over the globe.

But I have been afraid to say so publically because of the negativity I perceived in my social bubble towards Brexit voters. Not directed at individuals, but implicitly indicating stupidity and ignorance among all people who had a different opinion. It’s the language that gets used. Whatever anyone thinks we should always respect others.

I am ashamed of people who think treating women or people from different cultural backgrounds in a demeaning manner is acceptable but I am also ashamed of those who effectively make others viewpoints invalid. Certainly, which ever ‘side’ anyone is on, they should never believe that theirs is perfect and the other not.

The future

It remains to be seen what will be made of the Brexit vote and what Trump will do with his presidency, but I believe that vilifying the opposition is only going to result in alienating them rather than winning them over to alternative opinions.

And herein my thinking brought me to consider how I deal with conflict between my children, between them and myself or them and other children. Name-calling has never been something I tolerate as a parent. Fights that turn forceful or physical aren’t either and just screaming at each other is something I try to help my children move away from.

Now none of us are perfect, myself included. I know I can often behave like a child. Have we here begun exhibiting childlike behaviour on a national/international level? If someone has a different view point we should be happy to engage in a discussion and debate with them to try to sway their opinion not criticise them.

As a parent I encourage conversation, listening to others, empathy and kindness. I know if I want them to do something – telling them not to do something will perversely make them do it. They react so much more positively if I clearly explain my reasoning for doing things. They are able to see another point off view, find common ground.

conflict

I know this is all rather simplistic but surely we can learn much from how we help children through conflict? The world over we have many problems to solve, can we not dig deep for our empathy to try to overcome them?

Please do not attack me if you perceive my political knowledge to be naïve – I do not pretend that I am political animal, nor am I highly educated in all the philosophical vocabulary that I see banded around. (I have yet to reach an adequate understanding of neoliberalism and if it can’t be easily explained then is it a worthwhile concept?)

Alternative opinions, debate and attempts to educate welcome, but don’t hate me.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a brave posts, and words that need to be said. I think you are so right that the ‘debate’ on both sides, in the UK and the US, has descended into inexcusable nastiness – something which ignores the fact that at the heart of it all are two societies (and a world) that is broken. I voted remain, but I know the EU is far from perfect, and that many who voted leave did so for very good reasons. Had I been in the US, I would never have voted for Trump, but I would have voted for Clinton with a heavy heart. We need change, that much is inescapable – I just wish the change had gone in a different direction… But maybe it will, with time – and understanding. We are certainly not going to achieve our goals of togetherness and peace by refusing to listen and vilifying those whose opinions are different xx

  2. Corker of a post lovely lady, and I will be shocked if anyone responds negatively. If they do it would be because they simply read the part about you voting leave and didn’t bother reading the rest…

    You are of course completely bang on the money, we need more communication on both sides. My biggest concern is that this train of thought isn’t going to reach the ones who need to hear it most. We shall see. Well done for your honesty hon xx

  3. I’ve just responded to your comment on my post, and you’ll see from that response that I agree with you, and we need more people to focus on communication and understanding, so thank you for being brave and writing this. I’ve done a lot of reading over the last few months, and even more so the last week. From both sides (I’m very aware of the filter bubble effect). Something I read today resonated and I’ll only quote a little: “I believe you when you say that you don’t condone violence and discrimination and bullying. But I won’t keep believing you if you remain silent.”. For me this has become about more than politics, more than democracy. It’s about society, about humanity. And, irrespective of how anyone voted, in the UK or the US, this is not a time for silence. You were right when you said I sounded angry, I am. Anger is a legitimate response. It’s how we choose to channel that anger that speaks to our character and motivations. I think Renee is right to raise the concern regarding those who need to listen most doing so, and what happens from here on in is going to be challenging. But, no one should be afraid to speak up in defense of reasonable and productive dialogue.

  4. maddy@writingbubble says:

    First and foremost, Alice, of course I don’t hate you. I think this is a brave post – I always think it takes some bravery to put your (one’s) political thoughts or actions out there (it always makes me nervous to do so!) but particularly when you know that many of your blogging social circle voted differently to you.

    You’re right, this is a democracy and I stand by your right to vote leave – of course, I do. I’m also, totally with you about the awful language that has been evident in both the EU ref and the US election. What upset me most about the former was the hateful rhetoric that surrounded (and continues to surround) it. I could hardly bear the xenophobia that the Leave campaign stirred up and that, more than anything else, was what was upset me about the result – the way it legitimised racism because the assumption by racist leave voters was that every leave voter was also racist – of course they weren’t. We definitely need to find ways of changing the language and bridging the divide. I would love to hear more from non-racist leave voters like yourself – I think the hateful language (from both sides) has played a role in stifling those voices and so the chasm between the ‘sides’ has deepened.

    As for the US election – what shocks me to my core about Trump is that all those words that you would normally view as ‘insults’ – racist, misogynist, homophobe’ etc – are, where he is concerned, merely statements of fact. It makes a mockery of any discussion of appropriate language when the president elect’s use of language is some of the most offensive I’ve heard.

    Which brings me on to people’s reaction to both brexit and Trump and the ‘anger and outrage’ that you mention. I don’t think this has anything to do with being ‘sore losers’. People have been genuinely shocked by the results and worried about the future for themselves, their children, their country, their continent and even the world. Yes, there was a democratic vote but living in a democracy does not mean people aren’t allowed to feel and demonstrate outrage. Of course this shouldn’t involve nastiness but what sort of society or democracy do we live in if we can’t peacefully express our feelings without being called sore losers?

    In America I’d go a step further though. Their president elect is a man who – amongst other appalling statements – has bragged about sexually abusing women. If a huge proportion of the American public was not openly angry and outraged right now I would be more worried about the world than I am. Outrage is an entirely justifiable and deeply human reaction to a sexual abuser being elected president of your country. Trump is not a normal president elect. This is not a normal situation. People are terrified. As he choses his advisers the fear only grows. People’s human rights are genuinely at risk. Again, anger that explodes into violence isn’t good (and Clinton voters and Trump voters being nasty to each other doesn’t help anyone), but I have seen so many examples of outrage being used as a useful and powerful motivator into positive action – action that helps and heals and bonds people together to protect those at risk. Used in the right way, I think outrage can aid togetherness. I believe it is going to do so – and sadly now need to do so – in America for years to come.

    Anyway, phew, this is the most epic comment in the history of all epic comments! As you can tell, I feel passionately about the subject and I think conversations on subjects like this are so important. There is so much of your post that I agree with and so many of your words that resonate so I hope you don’t mind me being so forthright with my opinions here. I agree that empathy and listening is key and so the more open, honest and empathetic conversations that people can have on difficult subjects the more chance we have of all working towards a brighter future together. xxx

  5. mamaelsie says:

    Kudos to you for sharing your honest and well-argued post and I really really hope you don’t receive negative responses because you have explained and explored aspects of the EU referendum that I wish would have been raised more on political platforms instead of the scare-mongering rhetoric that was used to play into the hands and mouths of hateful people.

    I spend a lot of time sharing facts with my three daughters so we can discuss their thoughts rather than me blinding them with my opinions – who am I to colour their views. I have always said to my children and my students that we are fortunate to live in a democracy where we can vote, disagree publicly which means that yes, we will have to hear things we don’t like.

    And whilst I did vote to remain I don’t agree that we should have another referendum and do believe we have to commit to the vote that won. HOWEVER I do get annoyed when ‘Leavers’ rail about listening to the voice of the British people so everyone else should just shut up and stop whinging because it was not a resounding victory and it’s clear that many of the campaign headlines were untruths. I’m sure many of the ‘winners’ were the same people who protested against the poll tax or treatment of the miners – this is a nation of people who do voice their opinion loudly and long may it continue.

    Again though, kudos – I often self-censor with the fear of offending or upsetting. Despite my disagreement with your view, you have done neither.

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