The Chat: 'We need to teach conflict resolution skills'

TRACY:Did you see the letter to the editor written by Othelmo da Silva in last Saturday's Post-Bulletin?

JEN:Yes — the one in which he addressed the Black Lives Matter movement (and the Post-Bulletin's coverage of its demonstration at the Minnesota State Fair), calling BLM a hate group because of how "hateful and threatening" their chants against police officers were. "I don't care from where the hate and intolerance come," he wrote. "It's still hate and intolerance regardless of the ethnicity, political leanings or sexual identification of the participant."

JOY:That fits with something I've been thinking about: You can't conquer hate with more hate. Everyone on the news seems to be on the anti-hate band wagon recently — but they are battling it with more hate. And it's not just the "All Lives Matter" vs. "Black Lives Matter" vs. "Cops Lives Matter, too" movements. What about Kim Davis, the clerk in Kentucky who won't issue marriage licenses to gay couples? The anti-hate rhetoric pointed at her is filled with hate. I'm so saddened and disheartened by it all.

JEN:Many people, angry at Davis' disrespect and hateful words (and the fact that she refuses to do her job, for Pete's sake) — responded by spewing their own disrespect and hateful words. Online comments have ranged from threats on her life to attacks on her weight and appearance.

TRACY:I think there are two problems here. One is that we don't know how to talk to someone with whom we don't agree. Two, we have politically corrected ourselves into a corner.


JEN:Those are valid points. Civil debate is nearly dead in online forums and, unfortunately, many cable news programs. People jump to conclusions, and then lash out cruelly.

JOY:I refuse to take part in online forums. They are vile. We need to teach conflict resolution skills in K-12.

JEN:It's interesting that you say that, because I talked to legislator Kim Norton recently for another story I'm working on. She told me about a teacher her son had years ago. She said that her son had written a paper in which he explored religious viewpoints that differed from his teacher's. She said the teacher gave him an A on the paper — and included a note about how he disagreed with her son's philosophies, but respected that they were well written and supported. Kim said it taught her son that it was OK to disagree, but still have that respect.

JOY:Kudos to that teacher!

JEN:It's important to model good communication, debate, and conflict resolution skills. We can disagree and remain civil.

TRACY:I think we need to go back to a time where we can use common sense. I think we need to be able to say that, yes, SOMETIMES you can use stereotypes and profiles, because SOMETIMES they are valid. We can't go so far back, though, that we use stereotypes and profiles as an excuse for a bad action or behavior. But we HAVE to stop saying it's all or nothing. There is a lot of political correctness that is ultimately hurting the situation.

JEN:There are "good examples" and bad examples" in every career, socio-economic, ethnic, religious, and political group.

TRACY:Believe it or not, I support both police and black kids!


JOY:Me, too.

JEN:Most people, of all colors and all positions of power, are good at their core. And some are not. Absolutes just don't work. Except maybe in math.


JEN:It doesn't have to be one or the other.

TRACY:Uhhh … check your social media feeds, Koski. It seems that way to me.

JEN:Do I have to?

TRACY:It's interesting. We preach to kids not to bully — and, more importantly, to not stand by and watch bullying. But when it comes to this Black Lives/All Lives debate, the majority of us who are not young black men or law enforcement stand by and watch. We need to get some of OUR skin in the game by rolling up our sleeves and starting to help make the change we want to see.

JEN:It can be scary to jump in a volatile fight.


TRACY:You want kids to have another option besides a life of crime in a gang? Go to his school when he is in second grade, and help him learn to love reading. Volunteer to be a mentor to a high school kid who is on the edge of dropping out.

JOY:Be the change.

TRACY:The point is, we need to learn to listen to each other and work together. Spreading the hate is NOT working for anyone but the terrorists. And Trump.

JEN:Oh, let's not go there.

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