United, We Might Fall. Divided, We Might Adapt. on civility and disruption in the face of significant power differentials

A very interesting piece. I have been thinking this year about how to catalyze shared meaning among otherwise divided people, such that respectful, generative dialogue and coordinated action can occur. I believe there are basic capacities a person must have in some minimum quantity, such that rational sense-making and learning occur. Such that opinion, belief, and action are informed by fact and knowledge. So dialogue can and will take place.

My belief, and concern, is that too many are currently so overcome with the fear born of ignorance, and manipulated by the power-seekers, as to make learning and dialogue impossible. We have seen it this week. Facts and clear public acts be damned, they will refuse to believe what their eyes and ears take in.

So… civility and disruption. Civility would seem to be predicated on some set of shared values and intentions. Those afraid of “other” to the extent that they deny fact and knowledge, are not likely to embrace a civility that just might cause them to confront differences of opinion, belief, and intention.

Disruption is a wonderful tactic to change the patterns of behavior in a system, community, or society. It is especially useful in truly chaotic situations, where no one really knows what is going on or why things happen as they do. In the face of complexity- significant uncertainty and ambiguity – purposeful disruption is likely to have unintended consequences.

“Other” can topple the status quo. We see the consequences of that in our headlines right now. People who feel disenfranchised or wronged can certainly act to disrupt. Act without “civility” and cause. . . ?? Turbulence? Space for new meaning and possibility? Confusion? A forceful and even repressive response?

Are there other ways to make the change in the world that we want? Would the methods in “Walk Out, Walk On” be helpful? Do we necessarily need everyone at the table to have the life and world we want (perhaps not the obvious question it might seem to be)?

I don’t know just where and when we should act to be disruptive. For myself, this year, apart from socio-politics, has been a year of purposeful disruption- in the view of some. Inspired greatly by Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness, I began “speaking truth to bullshit. . . with civility.”

Ahh. . . There’s that word again.


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