Working 2gether Tuesdays
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working 2gether is greater than being divided
working 2gether is greater than being divided
Violence has been a part of this country since before its inception. Therefore, there has always been a crisis in terms of violence. It is not new…it is part of our collective conscience. This “mentality of violence” always creeps into our young people each generation.
Violence is a learned behavior just as are kindness, love, and respect. We can teach “us” how to handle anger in a positive way. We can set the wheels in motion against violence and encourage all of us to struggle against everyday violence and “institutionalized/glamorized” violence (i.e. wars, poverty, urban neglect, militarized police/brutality, some movies & TV shows, some sports, public figures/politicians, and anyone who profits from it).
More money is spent each year on expanding prisons and building new ones as if they are Walmarts. Punishing young people after the fact is not decreasing the problem or helping us as human beings or as a country. Teaching young people and older people (all of us) how to deal with anger/conflicts is much better than locking someone down. Young people have many good reasons for being angry…yet, we can’t give up nor despair. The 3 P’s are the main reasons for conflict. We have to talk about them and work like crazy to learn how to combat them.
PREJUDICE—-Many conflicts take place because we prejudge or think we know someone because of a “group” they are in. Differences in race, culture, religion, gender, age, how much money someone has can lead to prejudice. This P is rooted in fear...fearful of differences, of truly needing people to be like them, of not wanting to leave one's comfort zone. How to either embrace or at least accept differences will make a positive change in individual and collective lives. Each school, each level, each year needs to talk about and tackle this P.
POWER—-There are bosses. There are people/groups in positions of power. When a person/group in these positions use their power to gain an advantage over others, this leads to conflict. When a person/group has the need to be “bossy” or use power over another, this leads to conflict. It leads to conflicts on a personal level, a community level, and a global level. This P is rooted in fear…fearful of others’ opinions, of being wrong, of losing the advantage they possess. Each school, each level, each year needs to talk about and tackle this P.
PERCEPTION—-Perceptions are at the root a difference of opinion. Many conflicts happen because people or groups have a different perception or opinion on the same issue. People or groups can see the exact same thing differently. The way we are brought up, our values, how we are feeling at the time all work together on our perceptions. Add in the previous two P’s and you can really have two different opinions/perceptions on something. This P is rooted in fear..fearful of being wrong, of always having to be right, of always having to prove others wrong, of change. Each school, each level, each year needs to to talk about and tackle this P
In addition to identifying causes of conflicts…how bout solutions. Each school, each level, each year needs to exposes what the 3 P’s are and how they work to create problems and make people mean spirited. That is part of the solution. The other part is to teach how we choose to deal with conflicts/problems.
DENIAL—-People and groups deny there is a problem by ignoring or pretending there is no problem. This may help in the short run. However, since the problem is never brought up (at least in an honest way), it is never resolved. This “solution” is rooted in fear…fearful of admitting wrongdoing, of having to work to fix something. This “solution” allows conflicts/problems to fester and become infected.
CONFRONTATIONAL (Different than confront)—-People that try and solve conflicts/problems through arguing/fighting/putting down verbally show a win/lose attitude towards conflict. It is perfectly healthy to confront a problem. It is not ok to use confrontational tactics to “win” an issue. This “solution” is rooted in fear…fearful of losing, of working to fix a problem, of losing status. When someone “wins” through aggression, the problem is not truly solved.
PROBLEM-SOLVING—-People/groups talk about the problem and find a way to solve it in a way that is good for both of them. They communicate so they can understand the other person’s/group’s side even though they may not agree. This solution is rooted in strength…the strength of not having to be right, of seeing others as equals, of a good work ethic. When the solution is worked for in a way that each side feels a winner, the conflict/problem has a much better opportunity to be solved.
The statistics in this country that show results of not solving conflicts/problems are staggering. Young people need strategies…these strategies should be taught in every family, school, church, synagogue, temple, or mosque. Not only to avoid violent deaths/injuries, but any violence in all of its ugly forms. Right now we are not trying hard enough. We as a country, as a community feel that some people are expendable. How else do we explain away our indifference?
The skill of solving conflicts is part of erasing the “achievement gap”. I have found (well, I had my already confirmed suspicions cemented in concrete) during this year that the people in charge of school districts talk a good game (sometimes not even that is achieved) with no real plan. It is up to us and only us to fix it.
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Michael Gray is a School Climate Enhancer and a specialist in pointing student-athletes in the right direction academically.