Sunday, March 4, 2012

Intolerance: The Aftermath And The Future

It always amazes me when individuals condemn others for the very actions that they themselves engage in. Perhaps this self blindness, this lack of self insight is the human condition. When this occurs in a private setting it is sad indeed. When however, it occurs in a public setting, within a public group this lack of self insight can be both sad and destructive. It is the very definition of hypocrisy. One would hope that such hypocrisy is harder to achieve in a group setting because group members would speak out and put a stop to it before it reached critical mass, but not always.

When this community chose to become a Village, the MBPOA (Mastic Beach Property Owners) exacted revenge by banning pro-Village people from their organization. This was outrageous and likely illegal. Those effected took the MBPOA to court and rightfully so. It was an angry response and had "poor loser" written all over it. Not all MBPOA members agreed with the policy. Unfortunately the cooler heads in the organization did not prevail.

The current policy of exclusion will ultimately be to the detriment of the MBPOA. Most people have a sense of fairness and shy away from those who don't. Demonizing those who simply disagree with you will soon result in isolation of YOU. Those who can only speak to those who agree with them are destined to be imprisoned in an echo chamber of their own making. Such is the relationship between the MBPOA and PCCA( Pattersquash Creek Civic Association).

Having been the victim of such discrimination, one would expect the PCCA to avoid the same sins. To their credit they have welcomed MBPOA members into their group. In fact many of those in leadership were once MBPOA members. Unfortunately some within the group have been unable to avoid the demonization of those who do not walk in lock step with them. To these individuals, even speaking to people who hold another point of view is tantamount to a cardinal sin and cause for expulsion from the group. There is no room for opposing views in their world. They live in their own echo chamber. They would do well to remember that there are "poor losers" in this world and there are also "poor winners".

A wise "winner" reaches out to those on the opposing side. They welcome views that differ from their own, knowing that diversity of thought widens their base and makes them more successful. A wise "winner" discourages those who would exclude others, or characterize them as unfit for civil conversation. To do so is the mark of weakness not the mark strength.

The PCCA is now at a crossroad. The leadership must decide whether they will be inclusive or exclusive. Can they tolerate diversity of views? Can they avoid following the example of the MBPOA with the concurrent result? Can they represent the concerns of all the community or just those who come from their small geographic area? Can they listen to the entire community or just those within their own group? The decisions they make now will determine the success or failure of the organization. The decisions will determine whether they possess self insight or self blindness.

Jane Powers

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