An object lesson in understanding?

While working on my post about anger, I ran across this article, which, as is typical with how my brain works, led me down this rabbit trail. So here is a post spawned by a post:

FT.com / UK – Obama retreats on police ‘stupidity’ in Gates race row:

“The furore(sic) over the Gates affair has divided opinion among US citizens, most of whom are as ignorant of all the facts of the incident as Mr Obama admitted he was”

I like the quote above from the London Financial Times article. I think it’s very telling, and in my mind reinforces one of the underlying concepts of “seek 1st”: Seek first to understand.

-President Obama made an arguably ill-considered statement when he characterized the officer’s actions as stupid. He probably did so based on a conversation with his friend (the Harvard Professor who was arrested in his own home, arguably because of his own angry behavior). Who among us hasn’t responded rashly and with righteous indignation, when one of our friends relates how they have been wronged by some powerful entity?

-The media: I first heard of this story while working in my office cafeteria, with the TV on in the background, tuned to a cable news network. The passionate anchors were nearly hyperventilating over some issue, and I was concerned, so I started listening. They did a pretty good job of trying to represent both sides of the issue, but first and foremost, they were getting wound up, and getting their audience wound up, because the President said something rash, that proved to be inflamatory.

-The American public responded (or at least that portion which was covered by the national media–did we get a true picture or not?). No matter which side each individual came down on, they landed quickly on a position, and then defended it with ferocity.

One of the fundamental truths, in my mind, that was missed, by the failure of all concerned to seek understanding first, was that the President reacted to the situation like just about any American would- he opened his mouth and stated his opinion, without performing due diligence to know all the facts. Biggest difference is that unlike most of the rest of us, Mr. Obama has a microphone under his chin 24 hours a day, and his words, rightly or wrongly, are soon broadcast to most of the world.

Aren’t you glad you don’t have to live under that kind of microscope? I think I would vacillate constantly between “I’m not saying anything, so they don’t have anything to villify me over” to “This is stupid, I’m going to say what’s on my mind, and quit worrying about what everybody thinks.”

I’ll admit: I don’t know all the details either, so I’m as guilty as the rest of us–

I guess that’s part of my point?

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2 thoughts on “An object lesson in understanding?

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