There Are Always Two Sides

two-sidesThere are always two sides to every story. We have become blind to “the other side.” The Editor of our local St. Augustine Record cracked me up when he pointed that out to a gentleman who disliked a syndicated columnist’s perspective.

Leonard Pitts, a columnist I thought was fairly measured and reasonable, wrote a scathing column about Trump and the “embarrassment” he has caused our country. Pitt’s called Donald Trump a “bigot,” and offered a definition of the term in his final sentence. He stated, “A person who is intolerant of those holding different opinions other than their own.”

I laughed out loud when I read the Editors personal note: He said, “Perhaps you might reread that definition.”

And ain’t that the sorry state we see ourselves in. Anyone who disagrees is bad. It doesn’t matter who they are, friend or foe (or even family) but if they support “the other side,” they’re bad.

facebookI am very close to leaving Facebook. That is traumatic to me because Facebook has kept me connected to friends and family through two moves, in a way that I would never have believed possible. I found a long-lost cousin who has become a great friend. My daughters-in-law keep us updated about things the sons would never think to communicate.

But it is getting nastier every day. And what is more apparent than anything is that those who disagree typically disagree on “the how,” not “the what.”

I have been trying to engage my friends in a positive dialogue and at least one has taken me up on that; perhaps others are just reading but not joining in. That’s okay. If we can demonstrate that there are underlying shared values, and begin to find them, we might help others start down that path. But it’ll be a long road to travel. There are a lot of disagreements to work through.

The latest fear-monger? Betsy DeVos, the proposed Secretary of Education. She strongly supports voucher programs. I honestly don’t know enough to contribute to the dialogue. But I do believe that our educational system is not working; too many young people are not prepared to meet the demands of life.

There is no one answer. Privatize? What does that gain/lose? Get rid of common core? What replaces it to ensure consistency in learning? Put teachers on a merit pay plan? How well is that working for corporate America? Give more to group x; does that come at a price for group y?

I got a little queasy when I read about what appears to be Ms. DeVos’ very rigid support of vouchers and other educational reform ideas. I know enough about change to recognize that it has to happen over a long period of time, through trial and error and through dialogue.

A recent op-ed about her concluded with the comment, “DeVos will obviously bring some strong views to the Education Department, but here’s hoping that she is open to evidence as well. No matter how good an idea may seem in theory, it needs to help children in practice.”

How about this? We take all of the anger and negative energy aimed at trying to stop her appointment and put it toward good use by helping her to see all of the points of view.

Any candidate that President-Elect Trump offers up will inspire the wrath of his protestors. But that wrath is destructive. We could do it differently. We probably all agree that education reform is important. We could all help to make positive reform happen.

We can keep going in this divisive way, or we can trust that our government and our Constitution make it incredibly difficult for any one person to do something stupid. What if we all tried to help and move forward?


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: Good points. I don’t know enough about DeVos to have a strong opinion. I do think there is something to be said for vouchers and private schools. In any case, I can’t imagine anyone arguing that our education system is working well and doesn’t need change.

    The teachers I know, active and retired, are uniformly against Common Core and No Child Left Behind. I’m not sure a national program even works in all locals. Kids in rural Ks. may not need the same curriculum as a ghetto kid in Chicago.

    • It would be powerful to let the teachers do what they do best – educate the children. But as you pointed out in your Educational Quagmire article, there has to be leadership that is capable of making leadership decisions. Thanks for the comment.