When you were three years old, you may have thrown a tantrum to get what you wanted. If you are like most kids, however, it probably didn’t work most of the time. Otherwise, you would be kicking and screaming on the floor at age 40 every time you had to do something that you didn’t want to do. Instead, most of us learn that conversation makes change much more effectively than tantrums.
Teenagers, who simply fight with their parents about going to a party on Saturday night, are likely to be spending the evening at home. However, those that explain to their parents why they want to go to the party and what they plan to do to ensure their own safety are more likely to convince their parents to let them attend the party.
The reason is that the latter group shows both maturity and an understanding, at least subconsciously, of how a person goes about making change.
Rioting Does Not Create Change
Fighting, resisting, destroying, and creating chaos are sometimes viewed as people seeking change. It is possible for people to lash out in this manner when people are greatly oppressed and restricted from using or unaware of other means to express themselves. However, generally speaking, chaos and destruction are indicators that the person does not have a goal of change for the betterment of all.
The Portland riots and the organized mass looting in Chicago and New York City are examples of situations that are not born out of the desire for positive change. Instead, the leaders of these actions clearly have different goals. If they wanted positive change, they would have a conversation. They would attempt to engage with people instead of sucker-punching individuals who wonder too close to their activities. Likewise, they wouldn’t be trying to burn down buildings or steal things that they don’t need. Those actions are clearly designed to create chaos, fear, or to have some other negative result.
Limiting Conversation, Limiting The Opportunity For Change
Rioters don’t have conversation. They scream at people and try to intimidate them, but they don’t have positive interactions with people. Rioting, however, is not the only way to shut down conversations and change.
Facebook and Twitter stop conversation by marking information that differs from their opinion as false. At times, this escalates to the suspension of accounts. In some cases, they ban users completely. You might ask what does this have to do with change and the answer is, “Everything.”
Since true positive change comes about through conversation, change cannot occur when conversation is limited and opinions stifled. They would argue that they are eliminating false information. Yet, they are quite selective in the information that they remove. If false information wasn’t allowed, probably at least 50% or more of the information (based on my experience), would be removed.
One could argue that their selective methods of censoring are really an attempt to manipulate, silence, and destroy. Thus, the psychological and sociological impact of this behavior is very similar to that of riots. In the end, it divides people further and reinforces their existing opinions, making change impossible.
Individuals Stop Change, Too
It is not just businesses and rioting people that stop change from happening. Often in the name of change or fairness, individuals will take actions that stop the very change or fairness that they claim they seek.
The use of masks is a great example. Some people are constantly in people’s faces yelling about masks and social distancing. Some of them have gone as far as entering another person’s personal space to fight with them over the issue. Even if they are simply constantly posting about it on social media, the problem is that the people who don’t wear masks have tuned them out. They aren’t going to listen to someone who is seemingly yelling and belittling them.
The same can be said about those who are strongly opposed to masks. Those people may make fun of people in masks and who social distance. Again, they are not going to reach anyone that way.
So, if you want to open the door to change, be open to dialog about the issue at hand. If you want people to wear masks, don’t demand it or try to intimidate people into wearing one. Instead, talk about your personal experience. Tell why you believe it will be helpful for people to wear one. Likewise, do the same if you believe masks are useless.
Similarly, if you want changes in how police interact with the community. Get the police and the community together to have a conversation. Be open. Listen to all opinions. Try to understand someone else’s perspective. And, be willing to work together for a solution that a majority of people can support.
The same is true if you want people to understand that information is true, false, or misleading. Don’t call them names or shut down the conversation completely. Instead, calmly discuss the information and why you believe the information is true, false, or misleading. Be prepared to provide sources and know you may be challenged.
In summary, the proverb “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” can be applied to change. Because “you can create more positive change with conversation than with tantrums.”