I Have A Lot Of Friends

I have a lot of friends, people I respect and like a great deal, who have become protestors in this tumultuous political climate. They believe differently than me and are willing to step out and make their beliefs known in hopes that their words will cause the powers that be to rethink their actions.

My email this morning contained an article on protesting. It begins;

’Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent,’ biologist Rachel Carson wrote to her most beloved friend as she was about to catalyze the modern environmental movement with the 1962 publication of Silent Spring.”

Wow. The reality is that, had courageous people throughout history not taken up signs, our world would be very different. Those with a voice would have none. Those in need would still be in need. Those in power would most likely have far greater power, with fewer consequences.

Rachel Carson made the statement, “To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”

That statement nails the way I have been feeling. I would like to take up signs to protest my beliefs in this tumultuous political environment, but I can’t figure out what to protest. My beliefs are not really bred from personal values but from logic and common sense. Go out and protest for smaller government – wow, that would get folks jazzed. How about both sides sitting down and really listening and talking? Too much to put on a sign. Maybe making sure that we are not enabling those who don’t really have the gumption to work and would prefer to take from the government (not those who really need the help)? Yeah, I’d need four signs and three more sign holders.

Side trip

This little internal conversation got me thinking about the Myers Briggs Type Instrument – you know, that assessment that gives you four letters which provide insight into the way you prefer to behave?

I am a certified Myers-Briggs practitioner and believe firmly in the insight provided by the instrument. When I work with groups to help them understand, I typically make a point that the one dichotomy that is most prone to cause real, deep conflict is the dichotomy between those who prefer thinking and those who prefer feeling. I’ve written about this before because the differences often run deep in people, are very personal and difficult to address.

Those who prefer thinking use logic and facts to stand back and assess a situation objectively. Those who prefer feeling use their own, often strongly held, values, people, and relationships. I use the example of a leader who has a poorly performing employee. A leader who prefers thinking style will consider the facts relevant to the job. A leader who prefers feeling style will consider the impact to the employee. Both leaders will consider both factors, but the preference will often strongly influence the ultimate decision.

In a business setting, I will say, you need both styles in order to make the very best decision that you can make, considering both facts and people. But the conflict comes when the thinker challenges the values of the feeler. Then it becomes personal, which makes resolution so difficult.

Back to protestors

As I relate my knowledge of this instrument to the overwhelming conflict of our current political climate, I wonder if there isn’t a bit of logic vs values situation happening. My friends who are protesting have firmly held values that they can feel deep down in their core.

On the other hand, I’m looking at this all very objectively, and my arguments will never reach the emotional level of my friends, so I stay silent. It’s difficult to argue with someone’s personal values.

But I have the same overwhelming need to speak and to be heard. I may not be right on everything I’m thinking, and I am open to new ways of thinking about things.

Where the rubber will hit the road is when I say that, from a logical point of view we need to consider all of the angles of allowing our borders to remain porous, to include the economic and safety issues. Do I want to help refugees? I absolutely do. Do I want to do it the right way by looking at all of the angles and then making an informed decision? Yes.

The next steps after that statement lead to a very unpopular stand….some who need help will not receive it. Now I’m the bad guy and so I stay silent. The moment I say anything that conflicts with others’ personal values, I am subject to an emotional and often nasty argument, which cannot be argued with logic.

Maybe I’m overthinking

Perhaps it is silly to try to understand what is happening today through the lens of Myers-Briggs, but it does make some sense. I keep saying that I want dialogue – that I believe that there is common ground. Does that mean we should protest about the economic and safety issues? Probably wouldn’t get much coverage on CNN.

But I fear that, unless we are willing to really discuss our country from a position that looks at every aspect and makes an informed decision, we are headed in a frightening direction.

I want to have dialogue, but every time I see a meme or a statement about how [bad, stupid, ignorant] “my side” is, I just want to remain silent. Perhaps that is the intended result?

Finding a voice

Perhaps the results of this election had something to do with those who have been silent finding a voice, or at least a very loud protestor? Maybe it’s time to find common ground so that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far.


Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson
CAROL is the founder and Principal of Anderson Performance Partners, LLC, a business consultancy focused on bringing together organizational leaders to unite all aspects of the business – CEO, CFO, HR – to build, implement and evaluate a workforce alignment strategy. With over 35 years of executive leadership, she brings a unique lens and proven methodologies to help CEOs demand performance from HR and to develop the capability of HR to deliver business results by aligning the workforce to the strategy. She is the author of Leading an HR Transformation, published by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2018, which provides a practical RoadMap for human resource professionals to lead the process of aligning the workforce to the business strategy, and deliver results, and writes regularly for several business publications.

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  1. Carol, I have to believe that these protest marches do more damage than good. It enables a radical media to blow things out of proportion. It enables those bent on violence to have a cover for looting, burning police cars, and other acts of violence. It doesn’t always get the point (s) across nor cause change. Recent protest marches, in spite of signs, has failed to focus on a limited number of issues that can then be addressed. The marches continue to further divide our country. I don’t know anyone that really knows what these people are protesting.

    I agree that people should have their voices heard. I just feel there is a better way.

  2. You are absolutely correct Carol, my own personal experience has taught me to try to discuss, openly. I have personally tried to reach out to those in a position to listen and would be more than happy to meet in person. A discussion however takes place between two or more people. You can’t talk to a door if those in charge are not willing to open it. So what do you do, find another door.

    • Thanks for your comment, Suzana. I’m just finding more doors closed than open these days and am finding it discouraging. But I’ll keep knocking.