What I’m grappling with lately is what we do with “bad behaviour.” Our species is so full of bad behaviour: racism, slavery, homophobia, ageism, antisemitism, misogyny, tribalism, violence and hatred and more – torture, rape, murder.
How do we respond? Especially how do we as “conflict resolvers” respond? I often think of this quote as a guide for me in what I teach others in how to engage with power and injustice:
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is important to speak to injustice. Yet how do we do it? I want love with justice. I want dialogue. And, yes, I want change.
I’ve studied the science of the brain (and our animal mammalian brains) and know we easily slip into judgments about each other and go into our separate camps so easily. I hold and like to repeat the belief that we are mammals first, that we all want to be loved, held, cuddled and seen as beautiful.
There needs to be love and kindness in how we engage injustice. We all ultimately have soft underbellies so we need to speak hard truths with love. We need to be soft on the person, yet hard on the problem. It’s a cliché from our field but one that helps guide me.
So, yes, we need to speak out. Yes, we need to “call out” bad behaviour. We need to speak truth to power. And, we need civility. We need to speak in ways that honour our common humanity.
We all bleed. We all hurt. We all, fundamentally, need each other.