When our children were in kindergarten, their teachers taught them a simple way to resolve conflicts. It goes something like this:
STEP 1: Child #1 explains how they’re feeling using “I statements” (e.g., “I was really upset when you grabbed my toy.”).
STEP 2: Child #2 repeats verbatim what Child #1 said to ensure they’ve listened and understood (“You were really upset when I grabbed the your toy.”).
STEP 3: The children switch roles and repeat steps 1 and 2.
STEP 4: The children then work together to figure out a fair solution – which usually ends up being a compromise.
“The Peace Path,” as our kids call it, is both simple and effective. But a lot of the adults in our country apparently can’t do what our 6-year-olds are capable of. (Remember that old book, “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?” #relevant)
Here’s just some of what we’ve observed on social media, the news, and in many people’s interactions lately:
✔️ Blaming the “other side” for just about everything, while making “me and my side” out to be virtuous and irreproachable.
✔️ A reductionist mentality when it comes to complex issues, including a refusal to acknowledge nuance or ambiguity.
✔️ Yelling. Lots of yelling. Which seems to stem not just from emotion, but from the belief that yelling louder is an effective method of drowning out the other side (and invalidating their right to possess an opinion at all).
✔️ A refusal to acknowledge that there are at least two perspectives (and often many more) about complicated issues.
✔️ A zero-sum mentality: If “the other side” gets any wins (even small wins), it must be at my expense or mean a loss for me. …Which results in a refusal to compromise or collaborate in any way.
✔️ A tit-for-tat mentality: If they’re going to do this to me, then I’ll do the same to them. (They started it!)
✔️ An ends-justify-the-means approach: I can stoop to immature or immoral behavior because it’s in the service of my principles (which are obviously pure).
✔️ A win-at-all-costs mentality … even if it’s at the expense of one’s values or the truth.
Sound familiar? The above list also describes the average toddler.
Look, we're not going to mince words: It's time for us adults to grow up.
This kind of childish behavior has gone on for too long, and it's dragging us all down (because as much as we tend to think of ourselves as being on different teams, we're all in this together).
You might be thinking, “That sounds nice, but what am I supposed to do? The news is out of control. Social media is even worse. Our politicians only care about winning the next election. The reality is that I’m one of 350 million people in this country. I’m just a drop in the bucket.”
Our response: You don’t have to change everything. You just have to change yourself. Because when you raise the bar for your own behavior, other people will follow suit.
Don’t believe us? This is exactly what’s happening at The Deep.
The Deep bills itself as “a playground for curious people.” But at its heart, The Deep is really a movement for civil discourse. It’s a calling for people to be more curious, to treat others with compassion, and to start approaching complex issues with openness and humility.
The magic of The Deep is in its simplicity: We ask fun, thought-provoking questions ... and we discover what people have to say about them.
✔️ We don’t tell people what to think. We ask them what they think.
✔️ We’re not interested in conformity of thought; we’re interested in diversity of thought.
✔️ We’re not trying to sell people a point of view; we believe that they’re capable of deciding their own point of view.
After 9 months of asking questions (and countless incredible conversations), here’s what The Deep has proven to us: We get what we give.
If we behave like children, so do the people around us. But if we behave like adults – if we are humble, curious, calm, and forgiving; if we can treat all people as if they have inherent dignity and self-worth; and if we can acknowledge our faults but also celebrate our enormous capacity to learn and grow – then the people around us will as well.
We each make a difference.
It’s time for us to stop acting like children. We need to grow up and be the adults we’re meant to be.
If you agree, then we invite you to support The Deep by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Instagram. And let’s change the world one question … one conversation … and one person at a time.
Find us featured on Medium!
And join our growing community on Instagram.