Approximate Read Time: ~9 minutes
Image by Michaela, at home in Germany on Pixabay
At Tenacious Change, we practice tolerance and acceptance.
Our practice is not always perfect but when we fail, we pick ourselves up, make amends (when we have caused offence), and try again.
We do this because it is the right thing to do. Not because it is fashionable. Not because it is good for business (sometimes it isn’t). We do it because it reflects our best understanding of personal and business ethics. We do it because it is consistent with our spiritual practices. We do it because we aspire to do the “work of love” which has been eloquently described, in writing and conversation, by our friend and colleague, Durryle Brooks, PhD of Love and Justice Consulting.
We do it because we know from experience that love and grace win at the end of the day.
We are honored to have been the consultant of choice for many diverse organizations. In fact, most of our clients in the past 10 years have been organizations led by women, Black or Latino people, and people who self-identify as LGBTQ+. Many of our clients have worked at the forefront of social change, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. We believe they come to us because we have a reputation for doing excellent work at fair value and for our ethic of tolerance, acceptance, and striving to do the work of love in all of our engagements. Coming to this place at Tenacious Change was part of the personal journey for our founder, Tom Klaus. Last week he was reminded of this journey when he was watching the PBS NewsHour on July19th. It featured an eleven-minute segment on a focus group of voters in the State of Iowa, his home state. There was one moment, at about the 6 min, 30 sec mark in the segment, which took his breath away:
- Facilitator: Do you believe it’s possible to be very liberal, very progressive, but also be of deep Christian faith?
- Person 1: No
- Person 2: No. No.
- Facilitator: Tell me more. Go ahead.
- Person 2: You can’t. Life is, well, very important. And if you’re liberal, then you are pro-choice, and then you believe that it’s OK to kill a baby. And I don’t believe that you can believe that and be a real Christian.
- Facilitator: What do you think?
- Person 3: I mean, technically, I guess you could be, but that would mean you’re not…allowing God’s love to be in you as much and stuff.
- Person 4: So, I don’t think that the Democrats – and I hate to say it like that. I hate to segregate the party. They have too many “yeah, but what ifs”. Yeah, but what if I don’t feel like a girl? So, whatever, God – so God made me a boy but I don’t feel like a boy, and so I’m going to change that. It’s just messing with creation…it’s just messing with the absolute…
- Facilitator: So, when Joe Biden –I know he’s a Catholic. Do you think he’s not Catholic?
- Person 5: I mean, you just – in your original question, God is more of a God of just love. He a God of right and wrong. He’s a God of truth. He’s a God of righteousness. I mean, you can’t be liberal and be far left on beliefs and then say, oh, I’m a Christian. Well, you can say it. That’s the – that’s the worst thing. People do say it.
When Tom saw and heard this he was transported back to the early days of his career, as a young, conservative, Evangelical youth minister. If this focus group were conducted at that time, he could have been one of the participants and said the same things. Until love and grace intervened.
During that same period in his career, he was in a high-speed, three car accident. All drivers and passengers were transported to a local emergency room. All were admitted…except Tom.
He laid on a gurney for an hour or so – alone, afraid, and clutching his Bible. A nurse finally came to him and put a butterfly band aid on an open gash on his leg. He waited another hour or two and then was helped to a wheelchair.
Just before midnight, four hours after he arrived at the hospital emergency room, he was finally taken to the entrance where he was to wait until he was picked up by an associate the nurse had reached by phone.
He was never examined by a doctor or had x-rays taken despite being thrown about in the car during the crash. He was only given the band aid for the gash on his leg. He wasn’t treated because, it turned out, that the Evangelical Christian group he was working for had cancelled his health insurance because it was facing a shortfall. It didn’t tell him this, though.
That was not all. By the time he got home, his body was stiffening from the trauma, and he could hardly move. He was in paralyzing pain, and he had no idea if his injuries (which likely included a concussion) were extensive or even life-threatening. The family car was destroyed in the accident. The organization had already cut his $100 weekly salary to $15 because of the shortfall and now, his spouse had no way to get to her part-time job. They had no money, no car, and nothing to eat in the house. He contacted his colleagues and the family’s pastor to let them know what had happened in the hope they would help. They offered thoughts and prayers.
A couple of days after the accident, a knock came at the door early in the evening. When Tom opened it, there he was. It was the liberal Lutheran minister whom everyone in Tom’s Evangelical circle knew was a cussing, smoking, god-forsaken wolf in Christian’s clothing and false prophet who was destined for Hell. The Lutheran minister knew Tom as well and what he stood for in the Evangelical community.
Still, there he was. His station wagon was backed up to the front door of the house. As he handed Tom the first of 21 bags of groceries, he quietly said, “We heard you were having a tough time.” Without saying another word, he proceeded to carry the rest of the groceries into the house.
Tom stood there speechless, barely able to move, and unable to think of anything to say except a sheepish, “Thank you.”
In that moment, love and grace broke through to make a crack in Tom’s wall of intolerance and judgmentalism. It is a crack that would grow over the years until it finally fell. Over a period of about 15 years the wall was leveled. In another 20 years, when Tom established Tenacious Change, he was able to build it on a foundation of the love and grace a person showed him. Not just any person, but a person he had judged as less than human. It was a foundation upon which tolerance and acceptance could be practiced.
This is an origin story that Tom has rarely shared. However, when he saw the segment on the PBS NewsHour this past week, it seemed important. We are in a time when intolerance and judgmentalism are being practiced by many people and groups – on both sides of the political divide and regardless of their socio and religious beliefs. It feels so extreme some days that we wonder if this is how it will be for the rest of our lives. Maybe it will be that way but don’t underestimate the power of love and grace. It will win the day. That’s what we believe at Tenacious Change and why we practice tolerance and acceptance and offer love and grace.
Tenacious Change Coming to Substack
We are putting some test posts on Substack to get used to working with the site. We invite you to check them out at this link. Please know, though, that at this time we are re-running some recently past posts so we can get accustomed to posting there. We are continuing to learn the formatting but when we are fully ready to start publishing there, we’ll let you know!
Scheduling for Fall 2023 and Winter 2024
We are currently scheduling consultations, workshops, and training events for late summer and early Fall as well as for this upcoming Winter. Visit our website to learn more about everything we offer. You can even download and share this handout with your colleagues. Then schedule a time to talk to us.
Preparing for Controversy in the Fog of (Culture) War does not hold all the answers but it has some that will be helpful. It will help you understand:
- the difference between a controversy and a conflict
- the stages of conflict
- the cycle of intractable conflict
- the value and importance of Strategic Controversy Management
- when to intervene so that a controversy does not become a conflict
- how to slow or stop a controversy, even a conflict, when it occurs
Ninety-one percent (91%) of people completing the evaluation after the live April 2023 seminar told us they felt more confident in their ability to manage controversy as a result of participating in the seminar. Specifically, here’s what they told us how they benefited most from it:
- Five big steps in controversy management.
- The rules of civil conversation.
- Understanding how controversy and conflict are different now from the 90’s and understanding where and how conflict can be deterred.
- Learning about when more people are likely to “get on-board” with your issue. This helped me think about where my energy and efforts can be used more effectively.
- Tom’s historical observations about the Culture War and how things have changed…or not changed.
- The cycle of intractable conflict.
In addition to the video, there are downloadable PDF resources. All are available at no cost, though you will be asked to sign a guest book before accessing the video and downloads.
Click on the link below to see a brief trailer video and then access the full video and all resources.
What Controversy Could be Brewing In Your World?
Please follow this link (or click on the button below) to complete a brief Google form where you can tell us.
- What controversies are emerging that you might be able to head off?
- What controversies are you actually facing at this time?
- Can you share a situation with us that we can turn into an anonymous “case study” and explore in an upcoming blog?
- What specific questions do you have about getting prepared for controversy or managing controversy?
Remember, you can also access our video Preparing for Controversy inthe Fog of (Culture) War on our website and we also offer a day-long training event on managing controversy – on-site or online.