At an outdoor concert, there was a man circulating a petition to keep dogs out of the city parks and off of city trails.  Those signing his request were of an advanced age such that it was unlikely they would be out hiking with Rover.  

I declined to sign and he moved on without any conversation.  His goal that evening:  quantity instead of quality.

If he had engaged in a conversation, I would have shared that I am a huge dog lover and someone who would be delighted to have the ability to take my four-legged friends more places with me.  However, I agree with the arguments about having dogs in city parks.  The irresponsible owners create hazards that could impact children, and I can understand why the canines are prohibited.  Why they can’t go on trails makes absolutely no sense to me, but the petition did not allow a means of splitting the question.

I think politics and many organizations have devolved to a point where there is no discussion.  Everything is reduced to a “yes” or “no”; an “us” or “them” vote that puts people on opposite sides instead of common ground.

At a workshop I attended, Sr. Margaret Carney advised us to “always first create conditions for conversation.”  That is often harder to do than it sounds, but it is where true leadership emerges.  The next time you encounter another person’s view, seek to expand rather than limit your understanding before you decide.

— beth triplett

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