Speak for the Trees
Much like Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, I find myself hoping people will make the right choice, and helping others find their voice.
First, here’s a little background. Part of my extended family is experiencing conflict that has arisen from a misunderstanding, some hurt feelings, and frankly, seriously ineffective conflict resolution skills. There are some interpersonal relationships that have suffered in the last 15 years and deep seeded conflict has been coming to a head over the last few weeks. It is such a long and tedious story that I could probably sell the rights to Lifetime TV and retire. While I side with one of the parties involved, primarily based on shared experiences, it is not my job to get involved.
I find though, that I am being asked from all sides, “What do I do?” Well, I speak for the trees. The Lorax warned the Once-ler that by chopping down the trees his actions would have a far-reaching impact, more than could immediately be seen. If you know the story (and if you don’t, here’s a synopsis), you know the Once-ler chopped down all the trees and the town was never the same. If I am the Lorax, I can’t tell someone what do, but I can share some of my personal knowledge that can be taken (or not) and used (or not). I speak for the trees.
As students of conflict resolution, we are held to a higher standard, and with that, some expect us to have all the answers. We can’t solve other people’s problems, but we can share what we have learned, provide some excellent resources, and encourage the peacemaking process. Then, we stand back and let the parties decide. We speak for the trees.
At the end of the story, the Once-ler realized he should have done things differently. As peacemakers, we care about good outcomes, but it isn’t always up to us to create the peace, much like the Lorax. Sometimes, speaking for the trees is enough.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not. – The Once-ler from “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
Jenifer King has been a course facilitator for the Duncum Center since 2007. Born in Abilene and a graduate of McMurray University, Jenifer earned her Master of Arts in Human Communication and Certificate in Conflict Resolution at ACU in 2006. Before working as a facilitator, she served as the executive director for the American Cancer Society, business development manager for First Abilene Federal Credit Union, and worked as a realtor. She shared these thoughts with her students in this summer’s Ethics and Conflict Resolution course.