Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” when accepting the nomination to run for Senate in 1858. Shortly thereafter the civil war broke out and 600,000 men and women lost there lives. Sons were pitted against fathers, brothers fought against one another and even killed each other.
One hundred and sixty years ago seems like a long time and from our perspective related to life span; it is. But in the history of the world it is a blip on the radar.
Historical references dating back to early man shows us over and over again how societies crumble. Hatred and divisiveness seem to be a part of “human nature”. Many before me who are much smarter and learned in human history have tried to explain why this is. Why do we hate? Why is it we can’t get along?
Today, we are allegedly more evolved, more educated, and smarter. Right? But, many are saying we are on the brink of another civil war. Why? Trump versus Biden, mask or no mask, black lives matter versus blue lives matter. White privilege versus black oppression and systemic racism. All, very important matters. Matters that are so important to all of us as Americans.
Why do Trump supporters hate Biden supporters? Why are anti maskers bad people? Why do blue lives matter people hate black lives matter people? Why do pro life people hate pro choice?
Now, all of my questions all have answers. Some people are more passionate about why they believe in a particular philosophy or way of life.
There is a great book from Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers. In that book he tells a story about Korean airlines and their horrendous safety record. Korean airlines was the most unsafe airline to fly on and getting on a Korean airlines flight was a huge risk. Hundreds of safety violations and dozens of crashes lead to countless deaths.
When an airline expert was brought in to fix their safety problems many things were discovered. The expert listened to the black box recording of the latest crash in which the plane flew straight into a mountainside. Something that with modern instruments was easily avoidable. How could this happen? Why did this happen?
The expert discovered one very crucial thing that lead to the deaths of hundreds of people. Ineffective communication. The expert found that the co-pilot was warning the pilot about the crash multiple times. But, due to cultural norms and poor communication skills, the pilot crashed the plane into the side of a mountain.
What does this story have to do with the civil unrest of the United States of America? We as a society are poor communicators. We are even worse at listening to other perspectives. We are on the brink of crashing our country into the mountain of a civil war. All, due to our ability to communicate with civility and respect.
Trump supporters aren’t necessarily bad people because of their beliefs. Biden supports aren’t necessarily bad people for their beliefs. The same goes for every other belief or principle we believe in. But what we are severely deficient in is empathetic communication skills.
Regardless of how strongly you agree with your position on a particular subject, it is behooves us to try to understand the other side. You may NEVER agree, but you should be able to see the other side. As a white male I will never be able to fully appreciate what a black male growing up in the South Side of Chicago goes through on a daily basis. But, I can try to learn and understand his perspective. I happen to believe that masks are necessary in order to protect myself, my family and others. While millions of Americans disagree and they have their reasons. I don’t agree with most of them, but I don’t hate them. I’m not so blinded that I can’t at least see their perspective even though I think they are wrong.
Before this country does end up in another civil war, let’s try to understand the other sides views. Let’s try to communicate rather than making radical moves that can cause irreparable harm. I’m not saying we all have to be friends. But, if you care about your future and the future of the world, try as if your life depends on it. Because it does. Try to listen, try to understand and try to communicate.
Michael Alden, a graduate of Suffolk Law School and a three-time Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Seller, is from Beverly, MA. He has contributed to Forbes, Huffington Post, CNBC and, Entrepreneur, and was awarded Boston’s 40 Under 40 Award. To learn more about Michael Alden, visit www.michael-alden.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @MikeAlden2012