‘Can’t We All Just Get Along?’ 7 Shared Values to Start the Conversation

“Can’t we all just get along?” Nearly 25 years ago, Rodney King made this plea to end the Los Angeles riots in 1992. This one riot killed 53 people, injured 2,282 and resulted in $1 billion in financial losses. His beating sparked the riots. But his words helped to end it.

In all my years of helping government agencies achieve their public service mission, I have never seen such polarization as there has been this past year. To the point of visceral anger and rude dismissal of any friends and family members that voted a different way.

As we transition to the new administration, it is important to focus on our shared values:

  1. We want America to be great
  2. We want America to be healthy
  3. We want jobs for as many citizens as possible
  4. We want a well-functioning 21st century infrastructure
  5. We want freedom of speech and the rule of law
  6. We want a meritocracy with equal opportunity for all
  7. We want reasonable taxes that are efficiently spent to keep our standard of living high and each of us safe – but with an eye toward debt reduction and economic growth

If we can agree on our shared values, that’s a good first step.  Then we can have a constructive conversation about how to achieve them.

Men support the women's march

Although billed as a woman’s march, many men came out in support as well. (photo credit: Elite Daily).  

When my clients ask for my advice on strategic communications, I tell them: you have two ears and one mouth – listen 2x more than you talk.

When you really understand your stakeholders, you can find common ground and move forward with win-win solutions. In partnership.

Fortunately, our Nation has not seen riots of the Rodney King level since then. Even as large crowds marched on January 21st, the air was earnest. People just wanted to be heard. No deaths. Little to no damage.

For all of us that are dedicated to public service, regardless of party affiliation, let’s choose to abide by the words of Rodney King.

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Profile Photo richard regan

As a person of color, I interpret Rodney King’s comments in a different context. He really was not asking folks to get along. He was suggesting that we should recognize and embrace our differences. I can get along with you and keep you at a distance. I can get along with you by tolerating and putting up with you. I can get along with you by calling a truce. I can get along with you by us going into our separate corners. I can get along with you by saying you are OK and I am OK. I can get along with you by saying live and let live.

Profile Photo Janice John Roper-Graham

Thanks for the insight Richard. Totally agree and studies back up that recognizing and embracing differences is helpful to creative problem solving. More diverse firms are more successful on average (https://hbr.org/2013/12/how-diversity-can-drive-innovation).

Hopefully we don’t have to keep our distance but can seek to truly understand different perspectives and celebrate the unique gifts that people of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, etc. bring to the party. Thanks again.