The Curious Leader
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The Curious Leader

How “Unity” is a Bunch of Malarkey

In an ideal world, unity sounds positively swell. People working together “across the aisle”, neighbors helping neighbors, dogs and cats living in harmony. You get the idea.

It paints a pretty picture, and President Joe Biden repeatedly called for unity during his recent inaugural address. The question remains if he and the other Democrats can take the first step and if the Republicans are willing to play ball.

“Without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.” — President Joe Biden

The problem with unity is that it can be esoteric without some practical ‘how to’ guidance and role-modeling to help more people learn how to adopt the behavior. It also requires “two to tango.” Without that, unity is just another empty word.

“Unity” is just an esoteric word without role models and leaders that will take the first step to show everyone the way forward.

The United States has always put on a good show of unity, but anyone paying attention the past few years knows that this too is an illusion. Look at the schisms in society from numerous aspects of the pandemic, the impact of Covid-19, the protests over racially-motivated police brutality, social inequities, and the election. Hardly a portrait of unity.

In the face of a national election, it was evident that there would be calls for ‘unity’ once the dust-settled. In the weeks leading up to the election, I, along with my Ignite 360 colleagues asked 16 everyday Americans in its Navigating to a New Normal conversations about the idea of unifying their community in order to strengthen the nation.

The first question: “What can you do after the election to bring unity and help make the other side successful?”

Their initial reactions were discomfort and uncertainty. It betrayed a long-standing conundrum in the United States: we are more comfortable pointing out the problem than being part of the solution.

We pressed on…

“What are three things you can do to help bring unity?”

“What are three things you want the other side to understand about you?”

“How do we bring unity back to the United States?”

The conversation became very thoughtful and reflective as people contemplated their own actions and what they could do to help create a more perfect union.

These are the 5 Key Actions that surfaced. This video shares those highlights or you can read the summary below including cues on where to find them:

  • 1. Talk to Me Like You Want to Be Talked To–(2:00 into the video)from trash-talking the liberal ‘snowflakes’ to belittling Trump supporters–SHOUTING shuts us down, preventing honest conversation;
  • 2. “Stop. Listen. Think”–(4:21) Lusi, a participant, sums it up with those three words–we need to actively listen with an open mind in order to see the point of view of others and find common ground;
  • 3. Mediate a Better Social Media Existence–(6:50) more common facts, less trolling, more loving;
  • 4. Teach Kids a Better Way–(10:08) More critical thinking and empathy building needs to be taught to our kids to pave the way for the future,(8 min)
  • 5. Engage in Your Local Community–(11:20) live and in person –to meet one another and learn from each other how much more similar we are than different.(10 min)

“With unity, we can do great things, important things.” — President Joe Biden

It appears that it will take everyone, working together, to make unity happen. Without a joint effort, unity really will be just a bunch of malarkey. And what does that truly say about us as Americans?

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