David Noer, a professor emeritus in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, had his monthly column published March 21, 2010, by the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C.
The column, “Banish smelly elephants from our community room,” dealt with what Noer describes as two underlying “dead elephants” in the community living room: racial mistrust and blind obedience to political dogma with a related inability to compromise. People tiptoe around the two issues, he said, and don’t seem to have the ability to have an honest dialogue as opposed to a win/lose debate.
The community won’t get rid of the elephants by just changing elected representativives; people need to change the underlying culture.
From the column:
“The way to rid ourselves of these two bloated, reeking elephants is to have the courage to authentically engage each other around the underlying issues. As responsible citizens, we need the skills and fortitude to have a mutual dialogue, not a contentious debate. A dialogue leads to deeper understanding and builds trust. A debate leads to polarizing win-lose outcomes, stereotypes and mistrust.
“We need to step back from the false comfort of political stereotypes, think for ourselves, avoid polarizing ideologies, and seek pragmatic outcomes that will allow us to move forward. We need to insist that our elected representatives do the same thing and hold them accountable for elephant removal.”