The Participation Blog

Chamomile Tea or a Double Bourbon?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (“A broken what!?” the young person asked.), this business of working with the public is tough and getting tougher. As public meetings get uglier, officials are starting to realize that the solution doesn’t lie in reducing citizen comments from three minutes to two minutes at the microphone. Garrison Keillor wrote, “Nothing sells so well as anger and resentment. Anger moved people to burn other people at the stake, whereas hope is the stuff of Get Well Soon cards that we pitch in the trash. Hope is a cup of chamomile tea; resentment is a double bourbon.” It won’t be easy, there are no instant and magic answers, but there are better ways. A polarized and deeply divided nation will heal with informed and intelligent people understanding the behavioral science of what they’re dealing with in those not so informed. Those intelligent people will listen better than they’ve ever listened before, they’ll be trustworthy and act and speak in a trustworthy manner, and they’ll (re)build relationships one human at a time.