A loved one picked me up from the airport one December. As we drove through the neighborhood, we enjoyed the colorful lights and decorations in various yards. Snowmen, Santa Claus, reindeer, menorahs, and nativity scenes co-existed on the grounds where Native Americans once hunted and gathered food. LED lights replaced the candles of pioneer days. Plastic trees with fiber optics stood where pine trees once did. I remarked how much it reminded me of my childhood, when we enjoyed such simple scenes as our entertainment for the evening.
“And they want to take Christ out of Christmas!” she said.
“Who does?” I asked, wondering if Christ had been missing from Christmas since at least the first Black Friday sale. He certainly wasn’t on my mind as I was making my list for Santa: Barbie, GI Joe, puppy, electronic baseball game, new softball glove, basketball, etc.
She paused. “They just do.”
This happens almost daily. “They” are trying to take our rights. “They” are taking our jobs. “They” want to keep us divided. “They” are _______. Fill in the blank. There’s a “they” for that.
Maybe we get a little more specific and equate “they” with a group of people who can easily be identified by their gender, the color of their skin or hair, their profession, the country they live in, the school they attend, or the religion they practice. We lump them all together and swap “they” for “The Mexicans”, “The Whites”, “The Blacks”, “The Muslims”, “The Police”, “The Republicans”, “The Democrats”, “The Liberals”, and “The Conservatives”. Take a look in your immediate family. Is there one set of qualities, beliefs, and behaviors that is consistently true about all of you, all of the time?
Let’s walk through this using the Five Actions of conflict resolution masters.
ACTION ONE: DEFINE THE CONFLICT
I disagree with people who label and demonize large groups of people, based on the actions of a few, and I disagree that people (versus their occasional behaviors) are bad, good, right, or wrong.
ACTION TWO: IDENTIFY THE INTERESTS
I want to enjoy a unified world culture that identifies itself as one human race. I thought the United States was a melting pot, where we could be an example of what is possible as one race. I believed in liberty and justice for all. I thought it was promised. I wish we were putting more focus on connecting, including, and integrating each other than on blaming, excluding, and hurting.
ACTION THREE: PLAY WITH THE POSSIBILITIES
If I could have this conflict resolve in any way possible, more people throughout the world would catch themselves when they begin to use unidentified “they” groups as their targets. We would realize that our prejudices about specific groups are merely thoughts that we don’t have to answer to. We would take more time to be with each other, even during uncomfortable discussions, and experience our oneness. We would make the people in front of us as important as the characters and celebrities on our favorite television shows. We would deliver the world we thought we were promised, or one even better than we imagine possible.
ACTION FOUR: CREATE THE FUTURE
- I will share this post and accept even the negative comments it might attract.
- I will be unstoppable in pursuing my vision for this world.
- I will continue to ask more of you to join me in this mission.
- I will continue to speak up, even when it’s risky, especially when it restores integrity in people and systems.
- I will continue to empower people to create their visions as reality, too, knowing that even those whose visions appear self-centered are merely responding to a world they think rejected them.
- I will trust and further love, above all else.
- When I get stopped, I will ask for you to remind me how capable we are of creating what we want.
ACTION FIVE: STAY ON PARR
I will plan, act, revise, and repeat, until I take my last breath.
Having trouble getting past a conflict?
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).