Over this last week we have looked at how a commitment to civility and more widespread use of the communication tools that mediators use can make a difference in our national politics. During the US government shut-down, it was reported (NYT 10/101/13) that Bruce Josten, a lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce, was making the rounds advising Democrats and Republicans alike that
The name calling, blame gaming – using slurs like jihadists, terrorist, cowards, that kind of language – it does not get you to a deal . . .
As ABA Resolution 108 warned, that kind of language appeals to and inflames personal hates and resentments, promotes division, and leads to stalemates. We can change. By using stories of wisdom that emphasize our interdependence and other mediation techniques in our personal and public conversations we can begin to heal some of the partisan divides and work through the complex issues that affect our future together. In his remarks to the nation, the president quoted our pledge of allegiance “One nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”. Is it possible? We can certainly do better.
Ongoing progress requires not just vigilance in changing destructive patterns of communication, it will require ongoing commitment to the rule of law. Writing in his recent book “American Lawyers“, Paul D. Carrington observed
The law is really the main thread in the fabric of organized society. It is the compulsory part of the rules men have arrived at for living together. There is dignity and pride in dealing with the law. Our great public buildings, capitols, and courts, are designed to express that dignity. They are the homes of government and law. And government itself is law.
This country’s lawyers and dispute resolution professionals are uniquely equipped to help us find a way forward – resolving problems rather than simply quarreling with periodic respites over the same issues.
Commit to leading wherever you can, with civility, and with the rule of law as your foundation.