Resolving Conflict through Inclusive Dialogue
It is not easy to communicate (i.e. listen) while one is angry. And, understandably, there is a lot to be angry about. Especially for those who have been holding it in for as long as they can remember, the opportunity to express all that bottled up frustration, fear, and anxiety is much overdue.
However, we need to be careful not to overdo the expression of our emotions to the point of shutting down opportunities for true reconciliation. This is a delicate time. Some of the folks “on the other side” may be shocked, ashamed, or confused. Indeed, they may have been living in blissful unawareness of the situation and its effects. Of course, it may be tempting to say something like: “It serves them right”; or “It’s high time they feel a fraction of the suffering I had to endure.” But, deep down, you know that is a counterproductive attitude.
Inclusion means we are all in this together. The us vs. them attitude has never worked out for “us”, so why should we expect that it would when the roles are reversed?
It is okay to be angry but not everyone deserves your wrath. An inclusive conversation should not be about shutting down genuine efforts to engage. We may not feel like it is our job to educate others about ourselves, but is not one of the reasons we are in the current situation because of misrepresentation?
Healing requires a safe space for all of us to come together and dialogue. That involves talking and listening without fear. It takes courage to speak up honestly about ourselves. It also takes courage to hold the space for someone who is angry or hurt. It may be uncomfortable, but hopefully, we can all learn and become stronger for it.