I have been fairly quiet on the “share my opinion front” lately. Not because I haven’t don’t have strong and valid opinions. But, I have been quiet.
I have been quiet mostly because I am heartbroken.
Not because of who is or is not the President of the United States, or because of Cabinet choices, or because of border walls, or because of Supreme Court nominees.
I am just heartbroken.
I have spent a good portion of my life in school. From grade school to graduate school and beyond, I attended school for a long time. I finished classes I liked and classes I didn’t like. I sat through courses that seemed to fit within my world and courses that – at the time – I thought did nothing but take my tuition money without giving me back anything. I wrote papers on assigned topics that – at the time – I raced through and completed with little joy and more angry annoyance. I participated in group projects that – at the time – seemed to be nothing more than a waste of good daylight. I was quite sure – at the time – that I was often learning little to nothing, just moving towards that golden finish line.
And throughout umpteen years of classes – on subjects I enjoyed and subjects I didn’t enjoy – one of the most important lessons embedded in each course – unbeknownst to me – was a particular art, a foundational concept, a core value that I prize and value now.
School isn’t the only place where the practice of teaching of this art can be found. In fact, school is only one of the places where it occurs. But, for me – a person who thought college was more of an avocation than a temporary stop – it was one of my primary sources.
Looking back, I can see that I was being exposed to the art of collaboration.
I was learning how to play well and get along with others.
There were many times that I was quite unsuccessful. I didn’t like someone in my group, or I didn’t finish my work on time and didn’t like the consequences, or I thought the method of teaching and learning was trite.
I often behaved badly and made some very basic mistakes. With each new class and each new professor, I was offered the opportunity to try again and again. And gradually as I practiced the art of collaboration, I learned how to navigate different types of circumstances more successfully than when I started.
My heart is broken because I think I am witnessing the denigration of the art of collaboration.
Each and every day, there are countless opportunities for people all over this nation and any nation to come together, open their minds and their hearts, and work together for the greater good.
The United States has resources available to create the best collaboration activities we have ever experienced. We have great minds. We have the ways and means to collect those great minds. We have communication tools that can bring in top-notch research. We have technology to beat the band.
We have both opportunity and need. We have problems looming. We must find solutions and find them soon.
Instead, I have witnessed too many attempts to spoil and squash the art of collaboration. I listen to heavy duty name-calling. I watch grown-up pouting. I see stubborn streaks. There is bullying occurring from every direction. No one is listening and everyone is talking too much! There are language violations, research violations, manner violations, and decorum violations. Instead of fighting for what’s right, good, and just, we are fighting each other.
And then there is violence. I am brought to tears by the wave of violence happening in my country.
I have promised myself that my job is to participate. I will not sit on the sideline. I will not wait and see. I will be a person who is a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
But I am asking myself to utlize all that was taught to me by those who walked before me.
I will listen to understand the best parts of the viewpoints of others.
I will research and read to fully acquaint myself with the topic at hand.
I will speak politely, professionally, and honestly.
I won’t hide my thoughts and ideas, but I will present them with the highest level of civility and manners possible.
I will recognize that there is more than one right answer and that sometimes, my way will not be selected as the current path.
I will acknowledge that there are individuals who are way more intelligent than me.
I will seek to find the goodness in others, for it is there.
I will remain hopeful, even when my heart is breaking.
I will not support violence. Ever.