LTI Seminar Builds Bridges of Understanding, Appreciation

Article excerpt

As our work and play areas become more diverse, greater understanding and appreciation for differences must be developed. Leaders and managers will benefit from exploring the difficult issues of race and culture. Appreciation should be developed to allow for the exploration of personal insight whereby producing greater likelihood for increased tolerance of differences.

The need for cross-cultural understanding is quite evident, as one reads daily news accounts. It is because of unmanaged differences in styles that people often fail to effectively communicate. The goal is to create conversations and dialogues of possibilities and opportunities that value multicultural understanding and appreciation. If the concept of differences is ignored, the failure to communicate is forever present and connecting bridges are not constructed.

Ethnic, racial, gender, other life choices and physical difference continue to serve as America's Achilles' heel. This dilemma represents the types of issues that must be addressed daily by those persons and institutions working as change agents. People of goodwill must come together to develop needed understanding that is necessary to address the causative and resolutional factors of the racial and gender divide.

The concept of difference, when unmanaged, serves to divide people, creating groupings of individuals that fail to build bridges of understanding, consensus, compromise and tolerance. The end result is a population that is separated by walls of indifference in many instances too insidious to see, identify, possess, or entitle. A few names for this today are called stereotyping, bias, prejudice, racism and ethnocentrism.

Often times, when efforts to bridge our divides are made through assimilation or creative dialogue to share common interest, the deep-seeded roots that entangle the American experience serve as an impasse to the healing process as well as to developing tolerance. Justification, blaming and rationalization become the traits that further hamper the process of bridging. On the reverse side, those persons choosing to waltz in the alleyway of neutrality are often given the names of "Uncle Tom," "brown noser," "Oreo," "whigger," "acquiescer" or "wannabe."

History is filled with evidence of human inequities demonstrated toward persons or groups seen as different. While we acknowledge America's greatness and development, we can only guesstimate the potential for greater accomplishments had we not been plagued by unmanaged bias, phobia, prejudice and simply the lack of human appreciation. The lingering effects of these injustices and acts of exclusion are easily seen throughout the landscape of America. It is important to note that unmanaged injustices and acts of hatred stand to destroy the recipients' will to grow to their potential, as well as stifle the beholders from the appreciation of acknowledgement of human dignity.

Today's media releases are filled with evidence of demonstrated improper biases. The issues of racial, ethnic, class and gender differences stand to continue to divide our cities and our nation. Perhaps the most damning of its effects, is the "covered up and masked" scarring that people are saddled with that last throughout their lives. …