This post originally appeared in 2016, but it is still relevant today:
Action One: Define the Conflict
I disagree with friends and loved ones who believe my role, as a white person in the Black Lives Matter movement and a straight, cis-gender women in the Gay Rights movement, is to shut up and listen while I am being attacked for who I am.
Action Two: Identify the Interests
It seems counter to everything unifiers want. I believed these friends and loved ones wanted love and peace, unity and equality. They probably still do, even if it’s not coming across as such–from either direction.
It appears that some people actually want to turn the tables and punish innocent people for the actions of others who happen to look or live like them. Some people seem to think they can lift themselves up by pulling others down, stacking them, and stepping up on them. I know it’s not all of them and that we all have our momentary lapses in love, usually when we are scared and hurting.
I am sad that a few people will take advantage of difficult situations and exploit them for their own personal gain, even at the expense of others, or their inspiring movements. I am even sadder to learn that I know some of these people. I wonder if they see how their hatred and misdirected anger is unfair and ineffective in the quest for unity. I am hurt that they blame me, without any direct evidence that I have caused their circumstances. Yet I am actually guilty of repeating jokes and slurs that I heard as a child, before I knew what they meant. I’ve never forgiven myself for that.
Action Three: Play with the Possibilities
If I could have this conflict resolve in any way possible, I would have the country I was promised: one in which there is Liberty and Justice FOR ALL. I still believe it’s possible. I want the police and our judiciary to apply the laws equally and fairly, while keeping us as safe as possible. I want to work side-by-side with people of all races, sexual identities, ethnicities, and religions. I want us all to learn from each other. I wish more people wanted this, too.
I’d love to see immediate action. Each of us would learn to speak to each other respectfully. We could experience hurt and anger, without attacking and blaming our allies and innocent bystanders, even for standing by in fear or hopelessness. We would take responsibility for healing ourselves and use our successes to lead others to healing. We would organize actions to change discriminatory, ineffective, racist, sexist, unfair, and unloving practices–consistently and at all levels. We would be the change we wish to see, role models, and peacemakers. We would live in unity and harmony, maximizing the beauty of our differences, while weaving them into the same work of art.
Action Four: Create the Future
It’s hard to create the future when we’re just trying to survive the moment. Even those of us who are highly trained and skilled sometimes get beaten down. Occasionally, the future on which we must focus is confined to a few hours because that’s all we can find the energy and courage for. Yet that’s as good of a place as any to start.
Today, I will:
- Remove myself from Facebook, where too many people attack each other and spread hatred.
- Observe, without comment.
- Detach from those who choose to tear others down, including their allies, and who keep kicking them because they feel justified
- Remind myself that most people are good and want peace.
- Surround myself with those people.
- Trust God, the universe, and people to work their issues out.
- Take care of myself and my responsibilities.
- Surrender all that feels too big to carry–without guilt. xo
Have a conflict keeping you up at night? Request coaching
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 Super Lawyers (ADR 2018 & 2019), 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).