A teacher friend of mine relayed a story where a student was held home from school on the presidential inauguration day because the class would be observing the ceremony, as they do for every inauguration. The reason for keeping the student home was based on the parent’s personal dissatisfaction with the outcome of the election. Unfortunately, the student was denied an opportunity to participate in the shared learning of an American civics, social and history lesson, as well as an opportunity for self-consideration of a significant event.

We have upon us a vibrant moment in our collective existence right now. We all come from different backgrounds and perceive our worlds through different lenses. People undeniably disagree. I believe most of us want what’s best for each other, our communities and our country. It’s clear, though, that we’ve lost some capacity to listen, empathize and interact with one another in a mutually respectful manner.

Perhaps now is a good time to develop lessons or classes in schools that teach us how to participate in meaningful dialogue, that provide guidance about how to hear what is being said, how to listen, understand and converse in an inoffensive and decent way – even if we disagree; similarly, how to speak and convey our views and beliefs to others who may not agree with us.

For those of us no longer in school, perhaps now is a good time to learn how and practice communication with mutual respect. And to be good role models.

Carrie Callahan

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