As many of you know, the United States government was shut down for 35 days. There are multiple reasons why the shutdown occurred. Whether you’re an elected official, high school basketball player, or a member of a group for a school project, personal ego can lead to a shutdown.
The government shutdown meant that all non-essential personnel did not work. For TSA agents at airports, they worked in hopes of receiving back pay for working their standard hours. For other government workers, their building of work was locked and they weren't even allowed inside. Many of us didn't necessarily notice all of the services that were lacking because of the shutdown. For example food inspection, processing applications for Federal student loans or mortgages or approval of medical trials didn’t actually happen.
The government shutdown was due to a disagreement between different sides about how to handle the same issue: immigration. President Trump wanted a little over $5.7 billion for a border wall. The Democratic party leaders wanted to approach the same problem with $2.3 billion for border security (but not necessarily a wall). Even though both sides want to take action on the same issue, neither appears to be willing to take action on a solution that isn’t their own. Because no deal had been struck, the government of the United States was shut down.
Simply stated, the shutdown of the United States government was a giant game of chicken. In all honesty it still is. The current deal is that there is a three week opening of the government to try and solve the issue. So it begs the question, who will break first? Who will realize no one is winning? We live in a country in which many of our elected officials are more interested in being correct, not being proved wrong, and winning, than doing the right thing for the American citizens they were elected to serve. Just like our elected officials often get caught up in their ego, we all do sometimes. Some ego is healthy; it drives us to be more successful. Other times, it can control the actions we take, simply to be right, among several other reasons.
We have all found ourselves in arguments or disagreements before. Each time it happens, we have a choice. We can force our idea in an argument to prove ourselves right to the point of alienating the other person, or we can either work towards a compromise or simply agree to disagree.
The next time we find ourselves in a disagreement or argument, ask yourself “is ‘winning’ this argument worth the consequences?” By doing this, we check ourselves to make sure we are discussing for the right reasons; to learn more and to share ideas, not to prove the other wrong and show how right we are. Sharing our ideas, letting the other person know why we think the way we do is a great step. An even greater step is listening to the other person’s thinking about the matter, and why they think that way. Listening is just as important, if not more, than talking. Sometimes the justification for a solution isn’t obvious, so it takes some explaining.
We are not always going to agree with others. What we do after we disagree with someone shows more about who we are as people than the side we find ourselves on. Are we going to burn a bridge for the sake of winning? Or will we be civil, and work with others to work on a solution that suits everyone? As leaders, we have to learn to control our ego, before it controls us.
Stationed By The Door,
H. James Mathiowetz