by Roger Pynn
“Can we all just get along?” begged Rodney King, the L.A. man brutalized by police in 1991 when the officers who beat him were acquitted and it touched off riots.
His words rang in my ear this morning as I listened to radio reports of partisans jeering at each other during a town hall meeting on health care reform:
“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids…It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice….Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.”
Two things all of us have that are guaranteed to be unique: fingerprints and opinions. But somehow we’ve become so partisan that we aren’t willing to shake hands … or listen to each other without villainizing the other for not agreeing with us.
Our firm doesn’t “do politics” because you take the winners and the losers with you after a campaign (those you beat hate you and if you lose you’re to blame) but there’s a lesson here that applies to all communication.
Think of it in terms of your attempt to win market share. Before you can get a customer in the door, you have to let them know you respect them. They have to think you can get along.
You’d think the same thing would apply to politics and our civic life, but … then again … we’re all different.