Bickering is counter-productive. Isn't it. . . ?
It matters not which cable channel is your favorite, the hours are generally eaten up by loud bickering, with one side or the other insisting it has the solution to the topic under discussion. Whether it’s health care, the war in the Middle East, or the economy, few seem to share an opinion that serves all of human kind.
It’s not that disagreement is bad. In fact, the best solution for any problem quite often results from the exchange of ideas, even when expressed heatedly. However, seeking to disagree for the sake of attention or “ratings” or when the well being of others is being forsaken isn’t the purpose for healthy discussion, not in a democracy.
Isn’t it time to take stock of who we are, as a nation; who we want to be in this multicultural world, and how to get to the place that benefits the greatest number of people?
Time may not be running out. However, it’s never too late for those of us who want to live in a more civil society to make choices for our own behavior, choices that do benefit more than just ourselves. This isn’t a radical idea. It’s humane and caring and in keeping with the choices our forefathers made. Wouldn’t you agree?
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Alas, the communication strategy one uses is based on an underlying belief, desire, and goal. So, if your belief is that you are right and need to dominate and control the outcome, then bickering is probably recommended to wear the other person down, and be the most annoying voice in the group, so others give up, etc. If you have a belief, desire, or goal to find a solution that would serve the greater good, then listening and seeking common ground would be more interesting and fulfilling.
My sense is that our American Myth of the hero, the lone cowboy, more recently repackaged as the entrepreneur, the one who has to go it alone and then reaps the rewards of single efforts drives much of this behavior. Stories die hard and in the public discourse we have not replaced it with another myth or story of meaning, such as participation in the collective good. Stories do and will change, timing is complicated and uneven, some unforeseen formula of individual behaviors, ethics, and collective decisions create the new. Never a dull moment!