Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011

Making Polarization a Last Resort

by Lauren Reichelt

True healing rarely conforms to ideological preconceptions.

It is important to listen. My most frequent mistake is trying to impose my point of view or other personal expectation on a multifaceted world. When we set out to improve life for others without a fundamental understanding of their point of view and quality of experience, we do more harm than good. Often, little more is required than to listen.

The best change is one that enables those with plugged ears to hear what the so-called "voiceless" have been voicing all along.

When we do set out to actively change systems, it is important that we implement the changes people request of us, or that we at least try to approximate those changes. Sometimes our efforts are imperfect. It is better to implement an imperfect change that improves lives than to insist on an ideologically perfect change that never gets off the ground. We never want to hold others hostage for our own purposes. Negotiation is better than war. Dialogue is better than noise.

Sometimes we are faced with implacable opposition to all change. In those circumstances we are forced to abandon negotiation and to fight for justice. Polarization should always be a last resort.

Lauren Reichelt is the Director of Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County in Northern New Mexico. She strives to improve quality and access to health care for minorities by improving and implementing sound public health policy.

Her articles in Tikkun include "Healing in Community," March/April 2010.

Source Citation: Reichelt, Lauren. 2011. Making Polarization a Last Resort. Tikkun 26(1): 63

tags: Activism  
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