Saturday, March 2, 2024

Thoughts on Recent Rallies & Counter Protests

Dear Editor,

This is regarding the article Rallies Against Schools Teaching Students About Gender & Sexual Diversity Met With Counter-Protests you’ve published on Sep 28, 2023. It was interesting to learn that this division on education issue seems to have come to Meaford as well. Having experience working as a psychologist in my past working life, I can’t help but notice a trend that is similar in all recent divisions including the

Vaccination – anti-vaccination,

Lockdowns – anti-lockdowns,

BLM – anti-BLM,

Support Ukraine – don’t support Ukraine,

Pro-abortion – anti-abortion,

Pro-LGBTQ+ – anti-sexualization.

The trend that jumps out at me is crucial and its importance can’t be overvalued. I’ve noticed that during all these issues the people are not using the de-escalation techniques used by mediators in any conflict resolution. Without de-escalation the conflict leads to disaster. In family, a small conflict can potentially lead to divorce, between groups of people it leads to violence, between countries it can lead to war. This horrible trend leads to ever-increasing anger, while using the de-escalation process leads to unity. There is enough trouble in the world without us attacking each other physically and psychologically. Always remember, we are stronger together.

I find it so important I will reiterate the de-escalation process below.

  1. Prepare. Keep the goal of unity, set aside the goal of being right. This is what the question “Do you want to be right or happy?” means. No happiness comes from segregation. Keep the goal of unity in mind. Working together is more productive than working against each other. This approach provides mental stability and calms us down to be able to talk and come to agreements.
  2. Learn. Learn the view from the other side. Don’t assume. Avoid second-hand information. Ask protesters questions. Learn why they are here, learn their stories. Record their arguments so when the fume is out, you can validate them and discuss them peacefully.
  3. Negotiate. While negotiating, avoid name-calling, labelling and using cliches, avoid generalizations and downplaying importance of the other side’s concerns. An example this would be Trudeau’s remark about truckers “terrorists, misogynists”: this is an insult to a group of people, while his “fringe minority” is downplaying and disregarding other people’s concerns as unimportant. When one side is abused by Trudeau or journalists this leads to more aggression, segregation and ultimately, violence.
  4. Find a win-win solution. Remember that problems come from misunderstanding and solutions come from the intent on unity. Remember that there is always a win-win solution.

The only time when it is possible not to find a win-win solution is when trying to annihilate the entire group of people. Unfortunately, I see an increasing trend in media escalating the conflict instead of de-escalating it. I hope annihilation is not the goal of common everyday people therefore I plead in every conflict and in every post in social media please remember to apply the 4 steps of de-escalation before you press the “post” button.

With Great Respect,

Lucy Anderson, Meaford full-time resident

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