A tradition within a remote tribe was noticed by a visitor. Whenever someone in the tribe exhibited bad behavior, everyone stopped and formed a circle, sitting the misbehaving individual in the center.
A person in the circle started saying good things about the lone individual, in the center of attention. Every person in the circle then was given a turn to say something nice.
The tribal members would recall good memories, happy times, or times when that focal person did something wonderful. Character strengths were voiced.
The conversation would continue as long as deemed necessary.
I saw a version of this story occur here locally the other day.
I was reporting on a governmental meeting that involved 19 Town Supervisors. Quite often, these meetings can be contentious, even getting so far off the political subject, I want to scream.
But, this meeting was a year end meeting and there was a changing of the guard. The Chair determinedly stood at the podium to thank each Supervisor leaving office. Each Supervisor did in turn, say something kind about the board and community.
Often the verbal comments were strained but after they droned on and on, I thought, “This reinforcement of good news is an effort to bring healing.”
One particular outgoing Supervisor had a reputation of opposition for the sake of opposing. When the Chair called him to the podium, he got up and said, with a touch of humor, “You don’t have to say anything nice about me.”
The Chair responded, “I’m going to try.” And, he did.
Human beings are not perfect. But, we do have the capability to fight for what we know is right with an open mind to see how others see. We also can move past conflict that arises.