In my early 20s, I wasn’t interested in school violence prevention. I had big ideas about contributing to world peace. After serving in the Peace Corps, I worked on a Master’s in international development, focused on conflict resolution. This was in the early 90s, before “Columbine” was associated with a high school massacre. An internship in the heart of America changed my worldview.
Most of us rely on auto-correction software, but how often do people check messages for conflict-inducing digs? You know what I mean, the ones that hit below the belt. They’re loaded with passive-aggressive undercurrents of sarcasm. They’re discounting, insulting or disrespectful. They blame or deflect responsibility. They triangulate, lack compassion, strike a nerve, etc. Even when the sender denies the intention of harm, knee-jerk messaging, particularly when sent electronically, can escalate quickly into drama and conflict, often with harmful consequences.
Our social harmony has been fragmented by mud-slinging and divisiveness. Clashes between the left and the right have global reverberations. Each side holds negative views about the other, leading to polarization, culminating in political “echo chambers.” I admit, I've been guilty of this myself at times. When I do engage with people on the opposite end of my political views, however, I find practical negotiation strategies lead to respectful and eye-opening debates.