Larsen is a Senior Mediator at the Center for the Resolution of Disputes. She is the Co-Founder of Beyond Civility.
Everyone I know yearns for the primary season to be over, but we have months to go.
Outrageous statements are often followed by a pullback or a conditional apology, which typically begins with, “If I have offended….”, virtually placing the blame on the sensitivity of the victim of the scurrilous remark. Or, the attack escalates with back and forth accusations reminiscent of a sixth grade playground brawl, complete with, “he started it.”
Just when I desperately needed something to lift my spirits, a cause for optimism appeared from a source that surprised me.
On March 25th, the New York Times reported on a speech given by House Majority Speaker Paul Ryan to congressional interns.
In part, the article read as follows:
“In the most striking part of his speech, Mr. Ryan faulted himself for having referred to the ‘makers and takers’ in society, when he was the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012.
“As I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong”, said Mr. Ryan, who has made attacking poverty a central goal of the House.”
Will these words result in legislative action any time soon? Likely not, but I am cheered, nonetheless.
The message: A politician who after suggesting a large segment of society exhibits a serious character flaw is then willing to publicly state, “I was wrong,” is deserving of public acclaim.