The Big Picture by J.T. Korkow: One-sided conversation
I don’t know how many of you listened to the President’s State of the Union Address in its entirety this past week, but I tuned it out after about two minutes, as a dripping faucet brought me more solace.
You know, as I think about it, most of the disagreements and conflict I have been involved with throughout my life have had much to do with one-sided conversations. I say that not only from a personal standpoint, but professionally, too.
While working as a consultant, I had the opportunity some years ago to participate in mediation certification training sponsored by the law department at the University of Wyoming. At that time, methane gas extraction was at peak production, but it was also causing much consternation between landowners and drilling companies whereby lawsuits were being filed daily plugging up the courts. As some of the cases were being heard, it was noted by the legal community that many of the complaints filed was due to a lack of communication between the parties. Thus, Wyoming established a mediation program so filing parties had an option of trying to resolve conflicts through a cheaper and quicker means. It proved to have a reasonable amount of success.
Contrary to an attorney, who is hired to “fight for the cause,” a mediator is to be a master at communication and acts as a neutral party in provoking conversation regarding a matter, yet keeping order in as far as each party having equal time to express their differences. A good mediator will strive to pursue all aspects of the subject and focus on discovering common ground to work from and assist each party in finding a resolution through negotiation and compromise. Most conflict comes from one party not understanding the other party, either due to different backgrounds, industry jargon, or communication skills.
As I read Lee Pitts column last week, I share his concern for our younger generation who’s remedial communication experience, in contrast, is through texting…a very low form of communication that offers no voice fluctuation, body language, or spiritual presence to give intended meaning…in other words, easily misunderstood! I can see a greater need for mediators in the future as this generation experiences conflict due to lack of communication skills. Communication is key to successful relationships, be it personally, professionally, and/or politically.
As for the president, although he esteems himself as a great communicator, I am more concerned about what he doesn’t address in his State of the Union Address, such as the 18 trillion dollar debt, the Dec. 24, 2014, enactment of the United Nations Arms Treaty, he signed in 2013 that authorizes the disarming of U.S. citizens that disregards our constitutional rights as Americans, the Benghazi scandal, the use of government agencies to forward political agendas such as the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, Environmental Protection Agency’s chokehold on coal and oil industries and manipulation of the Clean Water Act to federally control all water; Fish, Wildlife Service’s control of public land use through the Endangered Species Act; National Park Service and Forest Service move to take control of privately and previously owned water right claims, and the use of drones to keep an eye on the farmers.
It is at this juncture I will add the following excerpt from number 28 of the Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton: “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”
It may be concluded that those who do most of the talking usually don’t take much stock in listening. When examining the big picture this week, it seems to me that we have a one-sided conversation here, but our silence should be a sober warning.
I wonder if it was coincidental that my reading for this morning was in the book of Jeremiah, where God tried for years to warn the king of Judah and all the people of their pending destruction and captivity by King Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon if they failed to repent of their evil ways…but they would not listen. Jeremiah 25: 3-11.