Imagine my excitement when on my way to church last Sunday I became engrossed in an interview on the radio that confirmed the wisdom of a concept I learned forty years ago that has helped me make sense of personal relationships and world events.
Some simplified examples of that concept:
Values of the dominant worldview (fear-based separation):
- I’m the authority. I know best. Listen to me and do what I say.
- I compete with you because power, performance, and winning are what matters.
- Follow my rules or all hell will break loose.
- You are only important if you are supporting me and doing it my way.
- If something goes wrong, it’s your fault.
Values of a relational worldview (trust-based connection):
- We each have gifts to offer and a perspective that may be helpful. Working together, we can find a better way.
- I collaborate with you in the service of finding a workable solution.
- People matter most. Rules can be changed to meet people’s needs and preserve connection.
- To reach the most compassionate outcome, all voices are needed.
- When I’m wrong, I admit it and participate in finding a better approach for all concerned.
WYSO Weekend host, Jess Mador, interviewed Doug Oplinger, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and forty-six-year veteran in the business. He related how the way reporters have been handling the opioid epidemic hasn’t solved the problem.
“We’ve been writing gruesome stories for years … 4000 have died in Ohio, 1000 in Southwest Ohio. Where’s the public outcry?”
Oplinger said he and other investigative reporters grew frustrated that people weren’t engaging in the conversation. So they joined forces and tried an experiment that evolved into a new approach and a project called “Your Voice Ohio: Journalism Driven by Ohioans, for Ohioans.”
You could hear the passion in Oplinger’s voice as he described what he finds exciting about this different approach … something he is devoting himself to in retirement.
As my excitement merged with his, my brain went off course. I missed my turn toward church, drove about a mile out of the way before I realized what I had done, made a U-turn, and retraced my steps.
I was thrilled to hear how changing their worldview and values led these journalists to change their behavior. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in their new approach to what had inspired me forty years ago.
Oplinger said, “News organizations are setting aside their competitive instincts…they are sharing resources, reporters, and stories to provide better information more often.” Instead of aligning themselves with politicians, they invite ordinary people to watch journalists doing their jobs and then cosponsor community meetings where reporters listen to the people. They explore together what is needed in order to find personal and community solutions.
As they sat with the people and listened, the news organizations were surprised to find that they needed a very different approach. In their redesigned coverage, they are changing the conversation to lift up the voices of the people. Instead of an emphasis on gruesome stories, the emphasis is on solutions and highlighting the stories of people who have successfully overcome their dependence on opioids.
I felt so proud of this Ohio initiative and hope news organizations nationally will learn from it. In my experience and that of many of my friends, we are weary of being bombarded with “gruesome” news about everything that is going wrong in the world.
We are concerned, we want to be informed, and we want to make a difference, but this bombardment leads to a sense of powerlessness that is not helpful. Having worked as a family therapist in the addictions field for over twenty years, I know that feeling of powerlessness in the face of this epidemic. And as a concerned citizen, I know that feeling of powerlessness in the face of the situation in our country and world today.
My friends and I are overjoyed with this emphasis on success stories and finding solutions that work.
It was worth missing the organ prelude on Sunday to learn about this innovative and creative initiative by Ohio journalists who are committed to being part of the solution rather than part of the problem! They are an inspiration and deserve a standing ovation!
If the opioid crisis has touched your life and/or is on your list of concerns, I encourage you to get involved in this creative, solution-oriented initiative.