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Chances to prove power of protocol

Posted: November 1, 2012 - 9:37am

It may seem like the campaigns leading to Tuesday’s General Election have been interminable. But, now, here we are only a few days away from the big vote.
The beautiful thing is no matter who wins or who loses, this country will continue. We may rant for a few days if our particular candidates don’t win, but we know — and we expect — the transition will be seamless. No bloodshed. No curfews. No soldiers in the streets. Just business as usual.
And that’s something to celebrate.
We may identify with one political party or none at all, but the thing that unites us is our identity as Americans, not our political views. In times of crisis — including now with much of the country picking up after Sandy — it becomes crystal clear that we can work together to make things happen for the good of everyone.
It’s too bad we don’t work together like that all the time. Whether it’s on the national campaign trail or closer to home and talking to oil company officials, too often we forget how powerful civility and respect are.
In their book “Warfare by Honor,” authors Qaumaniq and Suuqiina, write about the “power of protocol.” They’re not just talking about good manners, but about “doing what is right between people. It is about honor, dignity, place, space, history, achievement, wisdom and caring.”
When did we start thinking that being rude, shouting, calling people liars or worse, wanting to be heard but failing to listen will get us where we want to go? Do we really think that those who shout the loudest win?
The book challenges us to consider what would happen if we treated people with whom we disagree or with whom we think we have no connection with honor, with proper protocol.
The authors note: “Honor does not happen by simply refraining from dishonoring others. To honor we must be purposeful and deliberate in our actions.”
They list these ways for us to honor one another: Show respect to others. See connections. Honor your elders. Accept what life brings. Have patience. Pray for guidance. Live carefully. Take care of others. Share what you have. Know who you are.
All easier said than done, but we can’t help wonder how our national political scene — and our local public meetings — would change if we all resolved to honor each other and not assume wrong motive at the drop of a hat. What could we accomplish? What different lessons would young people learn as they watched the adults around them?
What is proper protocol for an election? It’s not a matter of just showing up at the polls, although that’s important. It’s a matter of taking time to read about (and listen to) the candidates, learning about their views, discussing with others what they think about the candidates and maybe even talking to the candidates themselves.
Then, maybe we can honor each other and those who run for office, not to mention the traditions of our great nation, by taking our privilege to vote seriously. It’s not too late to learn more, before going to the polls on Tuesday.

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