Resorting to Violence - [website] Email Print
Published: 24th of Feb 2017 by: Carolyn Kessler

We all know politics is big news - one of the best ways to polarise people is to raise the subjects of politics and religion.

Watching the riotous behaviour of people in America, in our Parliament recently and during some heated discussions between members of parliament in England, I’m struck by how people resort so quickly to abusive and often violent behaviour under the guise of protecting partisanship.

I have to admit that I generally steer away from the doom and gloom politics which people the world over tend to perpetuate. I simply don’t see any benefit in hearing how terrible things are because so much of it is relative anyway. You’re looking at it from the opposite end of the telescope to me – how can we possibly agree on things if our view of each other is that distorted to begin with?

So I make a concerted effort to engage with people at ground level as human beings, rather than creatures from the other side of the “great divide”. I find this far more meaningful. Without exception, I find that getting to know someone before boxing them according to their political or religious belief systems, allows for me to connect with their humanity and in turn with my own.

You see - it’s so easy to give into the fear from which prejudice is born, and on which it feeds. In the blink of an eye we succumb to the ‘them and us’ mindset, by default. It’s difficult to think clearly and logically when we’re overcome by fear – in fact it’s impossible. As a result we don’t project our better selves. In fact we project the exact opposite, and that in turn allows for violence to be perpetrated against those with whom we do not agree. We have de-humanised them based on our differences and they no longer represent fellow beings – now they are a collective group which has become an entity rather than a group of individuals. It’s so much easier to attack an entity – after all it’s not human!!

Because we have set up a pattern of thinking, it is very difficult to move beyond this highly emotive behaviour and simply see another person who has the same needs and wants as we do. Someone who has many of the same challenges that we face on a daily basis and whose dreams often mirror our own. Not a monster who wants to devour us, but simply fellow human being who is trying to get by, just as we are.

Many of the soft skills workshops we facilitate deal with the complex issues which surround leveraging diversity. They contain tools with which to increase effective communication, connecting in a way that others can hear us without feeling threatened. These skills are integral to the exchange of ideas in a way that facilitates co-operation. Soft skills are all about helping us to recognise our own intrinsic worth in a realistic and practical way. Once we have done that it’s much, much harder to deny others theirs’.

Identifying our personal strengths and challenges immediately renders us more able to act rather than react – to be aware that our default mechanism has taken us down the path to prejudice and fear in the blink of an eye. With recognition comes the ability to pull back from the edge of the precipice and make emotionally intelligent decisions. In short, we behave the way we know we should – with respect and dignity.

Once we understand who we are, we are more able to avoid confrontational behaviour because we recognise that it’s okay for someone to hold different views to ours. We learn the art of taking a step back and internalise that different views are just that – different views. If they threaten something we hold dear, odds are we doing the same to them – always remembering that we’re at opposite ends of the telescope.

So I challenge you to come out from behind the lens through which you view the world and actually look at the person – I guarantee you’ll find someone who’s just trying to get by.

Staff Training presents more than 60 short courses nationwide. Contact us at info@StaffTraining.co.za or 0861 996 660.

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