Tag Archives: diversity

Can we all get along?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 2/24/14)

Dr. Glasser has pointed out the disparity between our technological progress as a society and our ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with one another.  Our technological prowess has soared over the past couple of centuries, yet, Rodney King’s simple plea, “Can we all get along?”  stands with Dr. Glasser’s comment from his book “Choice Theory” that “…we are no more able to get along well with each other than we ever were.” 

There is more than one reason for this inability to get along with one another.  I’m going to talk about just one that came to me in a fresh flood of insight recently.

It started with discovering a video clip on YouTube.  The clip was of a Swiss family who play and sing Swiss folk music.  Dad plays accordion, Mom does vocal, the two brothers play bass and guitar and daughter Yodels!  I was completely charmed by their performance and puzzled over why I found them so appealing.  I mean how many folks do you know that just DIG yodeling???  [Oesch die Dritten is the name of the group.  Check em out.]

world

After a couple of days enjoying their music and driving everyone else nuts with my new found enthusiasm for yodeling, I suddenly sat up in surprise.  I asked myself, “What is the most obvious characteristic of this group?  They are European!  Specifically Northern European, that part of the world where my ancestors lived.  I was connecting in a funny way with some of the traditions of my distant ancestry!  Then I sat back and reflected on this insight.  I found that I really valued what I see and know about my European heritage, especially, in this case, with the music.  My appreciation for my own racial history has nothing to do with thinking less of other traditions.  As a matter of fact, I find that learning about other cultures and ethnic groups is fascinating.  We are all interconnected and have a contribution to make to this organism we call humanity.

Then, in my eagerness to share this with my friends, I found that I wanted to simply share my enthusiasm but I also wanted to be sensitive to the fact that a lot of people I know, including my friends, are less than enthusiastic about yodeling.  So with some hesitation I simply told of the joy I felt with this music, leaving them free to listen or not to listen.

Have you ever had what some call an epiphany?  Where fresh insights just seem to pour out in your thoughts?  That was what I was experiencing.  The next clear idea that emerged was that while I wanted to respect the interests and tastes of others, I also wanted and even expected a certain respect from my friends for what I had experienced through this music.  They didn’t have to jump in and become fans of Swiss Folk Music, but I didn’t expect them to look at my interest disdainfully.

I think this experience gave me a fresh desire to be more reflective in my efforts to touch and appreciate our diverse differences in our American culture.  We have rich treasures from other continents and other peoples.  Most of us have ancestors that came here from someplace else.  As I appreciate my own roots, I want to support and respect all my fellow Americans as we embrace our heritage and as we find ways to continue to build our common culture in this land of opportunity.

We live in an age where diversity is a reality.  I would like to see us all approach one another, as diverse as we are, with respect, interest and healthy curiosity.  Hopefully, through this we will grow in understanding and perhaps even bond in friendship across our differences.

worldhands “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

John F. Kennedy

Dialogue or Diatribe?

Dr. Ken Larsen

The world is divided by those who think they are right.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  This familiar quote from Gandhi is an invitation to make our world a better place.  There is a parallel saying and that is “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  Like the Miss America contestants, we all want peace in our world.

diatribe

I suggest that the absence of peace is conflict.  While there is little I can do about global conflicts, there is a lot I can do with the conflicts in my relationships.  One place to start is in our conversations with one another.  Dialogue is the free exchange of ideas and experiences.  It is a chance to see the world through the eyes of the other.  The most fundamental element in dialogue that leads to mental health and happiness is to make understanding the foundation.  Too often interpersonal communication ends in disagreement and conflict based not on understanding, but on a lack of understanding.   Each person in the dialogue has a legitimate point of view.   If one tries to deny the experience of the other and try to control the other to see things his way, we have a serious breakdown in the conversation and in the relationship.  If we agree that disagreement has no right to take place until understanding has been achieved, we are making progress.  It’s OK to “agree to disagree” but in order to have any integrity it is important that each person understands the point of view of the other before moving into disagreement.

Dr. Glasser talked about “external control” as a major contributor to conflict, unhappiness, and breakdown in relationships.

The way we circumvent external control is to recognize that I can only control my behavior.  When I slip into seeing my point of view as correct and the other’s point of view as wrong, we have a problem.  This may result in an “Archie Bunker” kind of diatribe against the other, insisting the other is wrong while you are right.  The result of this behavior is a growing hostility and enmity toward the other.

I mentioned earlier that there is little I can do about global conflicts.   But, if I understand the value of dialogue as a way to see the world as the other sees it, maybe I can have a small impact on what is going on in our world.  If I recognize that the diatribe often associated with condemning the other is based on ignorance I can make an effort to become informed.  I can seek to see the world as the other sees the world.  And in that process, maybe I can find a common link that we can build on.

In my own life, I have made an effort to get to know others who are different from me.  With respect and healthy curiosity I have found truly delightful opportunities to see the world through the eyes of people from other cultures and background.

We know that our attitudes and behavior toward others is based on our experience and beliefs about the other.  When we allow our beliefs to be formed by the unexamined opinions spoon fed to us, we have given away something of ourselves.  When listening to a media report on the “news” can we ask ourselves the simple question, “Is this true?”, or is it pre-digested propaganda that we have accepted without question?

In our relationships and in our world, there are differences.  That is what diversity is all about and it is good.  There is also common ground that we can use to build bridges between us.  Let’s build some more bridges.

For a short two minute video illustrating these principals click here

http://youtu.be/_0cdIQmZxWY

Can we all get along? (Rodney King)

By Dr. Ken Larsen

Dr. Glasser has pointed out the disparity between our technological progress as a society and our ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with one another.  Our technological prowess has soared over the past couple of centuries, yet, Rodney King’s simple plea, “Can we all get along?”  stands with Dr. Glasser’s comment from his book “Choice Theory” that “…we are no more able to get along well with each other than we ever were.” 

There is more than one reason for this inability to get along with one another.  I’m going to talk about just one that came to me in a fresh flood of insight recently.

It started with discovering a video clip on YouTube.  The clip was of a Swiss family who play and sing Swiss folk music.  Dad plays accordion, Mom does vocal, the two brothers play bass and guitar and daughter Yodels!  I was completely charmed by their performance and puzzled over why I found them so appealing.  I mean how many folks do you know that just DIG yodeling???  [Oesch die Dritten is the name of the group.  Check em out.]

world

After a couple of days enjoying their music and driving everyone else nuts with my new found enthusiasm for yodeling, I suddenly sat up in surprise.  I asked myself, “What is the most obvious characteristic of this group?  They are European!  Specifically Northern European, that part of the world where my ancestors lived.  I was connecting in a funny way with some of the traditions of my distant ancestry!  Then I sat back and reflected on this insight.  I found that I really valued what I see and know about my European heritage, especially, in this case, with the music.  My appreciation for my own racial history has nothing to do with thinking less of other traditions.  As a matter of fact, I find that learning about other cultures and ethnic groups is fascinating.  We are all interconnected and have a contribution to make to this organism we call humanity.

Then, in my eagerness to share this with my friends, I found that I wanted to simply share my enthusiasm but I also wanted to be sensitive to the fact that a lot of people I know, including my friends, are less than enthusiastic about yodeling.  So with some hesitation I simply told of the joy I felt with this music, leaving them free to listen or not to listen.

Have you ever had what some call an epiphany?  Where fresh insights just seem to pour out in your thoughts?  That was what I was experiencing.  The next clear idea that emerged was that while I wanted to respect the interests and tastes of others, I also wanted and even expected a certain respect from my friends for what I had experienced through this music.  They didn’t have to jump in and become fans of Swiss Folk Music, but I didn’t expect them to look at my interest disdainfully.

I think this experience gave me a fresh desire to be more reflective in my efforts to touch and appreciate our diverse differences in our American culture.  We have rich treasures from other continents and other peoples.  Most of us have ancestors that came here from someplace else.  As I appreciate my own roots, I want to support and respect all my fellow Americans as we embrace our heritage and as we find ways to continue to build our common culture in this land of opportunity.

We live in an age where diversity is a reality.  I would like to see us all approach one another, as diverse as we are, with respect, interest and healthy curiosity.  Hopefully, through this we will grow in understanding and perhaps even bond in friendship across our differences.

worldhands “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

John F. Kennedy