More and more, it seems like we as a culture, a country, a people…leaders…are having difficulty with the word ‘and.’
The founding fathers built a country that is truly remarkable…and many were slaveowners.
They wrote a brilliant constitution…and that constitution is exclusive of women, people of color, indigenous nations and reparation for the sins of slavery.
We are a great country; we make great contributions to the world, have helped many, many people…and we have colonized, dropped atom bombs, and committed genocide to natives.
We are a walking contradiction, and that is deeply uncomfortable. Where is that discomfort showing up in your leadership? Where are you only willing to see half the truth in your people, in yourself, in your company, and its impact on the community? Plastic packaging is cheaper and convenient, and it’s a scourge on our environment.
We don’t want to think about the bad things. But we have to be able to hold and acknowledge both. It’s time to reconcile the ‘and.’
And it’s hard. Honestly, I don’t always know how to do it, and when it’s personal it’s a million times more difficult. How do you reconcile opposing things when they’re all true? We can’t write off the good because of the bad…but we can’t write off the bad because of the good, either. The end does not justify the means.
This is true in so many areas of life. We all have that friend who makes our life so much better…and who also can really infuriate us. Life is complex. People are complex. Heck, our relationship with our own self can be like this. There are things we are so deeply proud of, parts of our personality we absolutely relish…and there are things we really wish we could change. Things we would rather ignore. Things we don’t want to be true. But not wanting them to be true does not make them false — in ourselves, or in others.
If we are going to make any progress with ourselves, with our relationships, and yes, with our country, we have to learn to somehow reconcile the “and.”
How do you do it? And where do you need help? And, more importantly, are you willing to ask for the help, and give yourself the permission necessary to sit in the uncomfortable “and?”