Shouts with a call: “Stop lying”
Response (by the crowd): “Dalai Lama”
What are some human tendencies in responding to conflict?
While walking this morning along the streets of Oxford (to a conference I am presenting at this weekend), I saw a group of people gathering and asked what was happening. They said the Dalai Lama was coming. So, like any tourist, I wanted to see him and get a picture if possible. I came back in an hour when there was a much larger crowd and heard people shouting something in a chant.
I will soon post here some pictures from the event. I didn’t end up getting a picture of the Dalai Lama, but I did get a lot of conversations that were perhaps even more valuable.
I assumed the shouting were either from Tibetans protesting China or Chinese protesting the Dalai Lama. Then I looked over the crowd and started to realize it was separated into three parts. Only a part of the crowd was holding Tibetan flags on one side, there was a small gathering around a Chinese flag in the center, and then a large group on the other side – many of which were dressed in long Buddhist robes – holding signs that said the Dalai Lama was lying. This is where the shouting was coming from. Buddhists protesting the Dalai Lama?
So I went back and forth between the different groups in the crowd in order to get a better understanding of what was happening. I have captured the conversations that came from it, and I think you will it interesting how people reason and make sense of the situation.
The situation itself is interesting, but the conversations around the protest is what I am more interested in discussing and hearing your thoughts about. They surprised me in some ways, and helped me understand a little more how people deal with conflict: always questioning the motivations of others (especially repelled by any sign of hypocrisy), making quick judgments based upon assuming negative motivations, asking so few questions (and usually only the kinds of questions which help them justify their previous opinions), and then giving labels for the people they feel are opposed to them.
Conversation #1 (To a person with a Tibetan flag)
Who are the protesters, and what is their concern?
“They are all just a bunch of communists.”
Conversation #2 (Walking over to a protester who hands me a pamphlet)
What are you protesting? What do you think the Dalai Lama is lying about?
“He is lying because he says he is hypocritical saying he supports human rights, but he suppresses them amongst his own people. He has outlawed people from being able to practice something called Dorje Shugden (a prayer to a certain Buddhist deity) – said there was an evil spirit in it – and if people do practice it then they have had their houses burned down, and some people have even been killed.”
Why do you think he outlawed the practice?
“For political reasons. He wants to unite Buddhists, and while politically that might make sense, spiritually it is very destructive.”
Oh, someone told me that you were communist protesters
“Yeah – they don’t really know what they are talking about.”
Conversation #3 (Walking back to someone with a Tibetan flag draped around them)
What do you think they are protesting about?
“Oh, they are angry that about the practice of a certain kind of prayer that the Dalai Lama has spoken against. It is a complicated split in Tibetan Buddhism. But they don’t even know what they are talking about. Go over there and ask them, and most of them are just westerners and don’t even know why they are protesting. They don’t even know what they are talking about. You don’t see any Tibetans over there, do you?
The Dalai Lama just said that he wasn’t going to practice the Dorje Shugden anymore, but he does allow religious freedom to people, but just asked if they follow him not to practice the Dorje Shugden as well. He doesn’t say that they can not practice it, just that he finds an evil spirit about it.
You don’t see any Tibetans over there, or hardly any. They don’t even have any intelligent chants. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were paid to come together. You know that happens. Paid mob.”
[And she handed me a statement from the Tibetan government describing their view on what had happened.]
Conversation #4 (Walking again over to a different protester)
What do you think the Dalai Lama is lying about?
“He has suppressed the practice of Dorje Shugden – even though his spiritual leaders practiced it. In Buddhism, you are supposed to follow your spiritual leaders. Now, people in the Tibetan communities of India (where they are living in exile) are forced to carry cards that indicate that they do not practice the Dorje Shugden. If they do not have the card, they get persecuted – and even their lives are in danger. There are even stores that say above the entrance that if you believe in Dorje Shugden then you can not shop there.”
Why did he think the Dorje Shugden was an evil practice?
“Oh, it was just some dream he says he had. Stupid. Really he is both a spiritual and political leader, and so he makes certain decisions for political reasons that are devastating spiritually. Westerners understand that you can not do this, that it is unhealthy and wrong, and so we are speaking up to try and get his attention. We do not hate him, we love him, we have peace in us, and we cheer at the end of each chant to show it is a peaceful rally. But we just want him to listen and he is not even open to dialogue. It is not democratic at all, but more like medieval ages in the west when the rulers made spiritual decisions for political reasons and then forced them on people. That is the problem when someone is both the spiritual and political leader. In the west we know that is wrong, but that is where they are stuck. It is not a democracy at all, he won’t even discuss it with people. Western media is just so nice to the Dalai Lama, not recognizing the hypocrisy – but we are trying to change that with demonstrations like this.”
Why do you think there are not more Buddhists protesting?
“There is a couple, but they are putting their life at risk by being here. The Dalai Lama has a group that will find him out and punish him if they can. All the ones over there feel they need to be submissive to him no matter what, they think that he can’t be wrong because he is their spiritual leader, and the Buddha. [He did a mock bowing motion]. Crazy. In the west we know that is not right.”
Conversation #5 (To the Tibetian on the protester side)
Why are you protesting?
“I went into the monastery when I was 12. I was there for 40 years, but because I did not want to agree and so I was cleared out. After 40 years! That was my home. If I had a family in India, and they did not have the passes, then the children would be cleared out of their schools, they would be cleared out of their community.”
Why do you think that the Dalai Lama felt this Dorje Shugden was evil?
“There are four branches of Buddhism in Tibet, and he is only the spiritual leader for only one of them. He wants to weaken the strongest branch, if he can, so that he can be a stronger leader by making all the branches more equal. The main thing is that in the west is freedom of speech – and he does not allow that.”
Why do you think more Tibetans don’t stand up to this?
“They just don’t understand.”
Conversation #6 (Then talking to a couple of Chinese representatives who gave me a pamphlet about how beautiful Tibet is)
Why are you here?
“We just want China to be one – to be united.”
Why do you think Tibet want to be free from China?
“I really don’t know.”
What percent of people in Tibet want to be free of China?
“I don’t think there are many left in Tibet that want to be free anymore. It is just a small percent. But they are doing violent things, surrounding the Olympics, and that is not good.”
What do you think the Dalai Lama wants?
“I think they were just in power before China took over, and so they just want the power again.”
They say that you might be getting paid to be here. Is that true?
“No! We are just here. That is not the reason we are here! Just look at the flag – we don’t even have enough money to buy a good flag.”
What do you think about the recent talks between Chinese government and the Dalai Lama?
“We support them. It is a good thing, and we hope it continues. The Dalai Lama just keeps speaking the same things – and there is no progress. We want to see things improve.”
Conversation #7 (Walking once again to the Tibetan side and talking to a caucasian woman holding a Tibetan flag)
Why do you think the people over there are protesting?
“I can’t imagine!”
Why do they say that the Dalai Lama is lying?
“They’re just horrible people! They are shouting horrible things! I’m Roman Catholic, but I know the Dalai Lama stands for peace! I don’t know why they would do such a horrible thing!”
Why does Tibet want to be free from China?
“I would want to be free from them! They’re barbarians – they murder their own students. They are just horrible barbarians.”
Conversation #8 (To a Tibetan man holding a Tibetan flag)
Why does Tibet want to be free from China?
“The Chinese do not allow any religious freedom. They make it so that we can not pray and practice as we would like to.”
Why do you think the people are protesting?
“They are upset about some direction that the Dalai Lama gave on changing something. But it was even his own practice, and he recognized that he needed to change too.”
And then I had to get back to the conference…
I’m sure there a lot of nuances in the actual conflict which I am not aware of. But I don’t want to discuss the conflict itself – I am more interested in discussing the approach to the conflict that was taken by people on different sides of the argument.
First let me say that I am aware that people frequently can have less-than-the-best of intentions – and so it makes sense that as humans we are always questioning the motives of others.
My questions for you:
- At the same time, doesn’t this tendency to quickly label the intent and intelligence of others frequently lead to unnecessary labels/judgments and miscommunication?
- Do you agree/disagree – or see anything else in these conversations?
- Any suggestions for how to get around skepticism, quick labeling, and the resulting miscommunication?
Growing up in a family with 8 kids had its advantages and challenges – but one of the greatest advantages now is that I get to be an uncle to so many adorable kids! I love my nieces and nephews and they provide a never ending source of funny and meaningful memories. We had a great family reunion this last week reminding me that, although things don’t always turn out perfectly, there are also plenty of reasons to laugh and enjoy the moment.
For instance, one of my nieces was kindly brushing my leg hair a couple days ago, which it badly needed as it hasn’t been brushed in years. Later I saw her brushing my brother’s chest hair too! I got a great picture (but don’t worry I won’t post it here unless I get enough requests for it)! I’m thinking chest-hair-brushing might catch on as a special spa treatment for men.
It was also the birthday of one of my nieces, who turned 5 years old, the day before I got here. Her name is Eliah, but for some reason she has decided that for now she wants to go by Jenny. Towards the end of the birthday party she told her mom that she was sad that her uncle Clint couldn’t be there. Then she looked happy as she said, “You know what – I bet he is celebrating it wherever he is.” So when I got to the family reunion I told her that I missed her on her birthday but that I kind of celebrated it when I was in the airport in London. She smiled and said, “Just like I thought!”
My four year old nephew Jayden (who frequently tells me “I’m a monkey”) tugged on my hand and said, “I have a secret. Let me whisper in your ear.” So he whispered this: “Why did the banana go to the doctor?” – “Why?” – “Because he wanted to go to the doctor.” (I think the original punch line for the joke was supposed to be “Because he wasn’t peeling well.” – but he adapted it for his own purposes. I’ve also noticed that it is not totally necessary for “knock knock” jokes to make sense for kids about that age. If you just put the word toilet in it somewhere – it is usually a hilariously funny hit!). Jayden’s mom also promised him today that he could go swimming right after he saw his sister do a dance for everyone in the living room. The instant she was done and people were clapping, he already had is pants and underwear off and gave us all a different kind of show as he streaked across the living room to go get his swim suit.
And the older ones constantly surprise me by how smart and talented they are. I thought it was funny that the teacher of my nephew Matthew made a rule on how many questions he could ask in class – he is just so curious. I read to some of the kids a book that my 11 year old nephew Brayton had written (with 6 short chapters). I kept asking them if I should stop or keep reading at the end of each chapter and all the kids yelled out, “Keep reading” – it was a page turner! He also sent me an email the other day with a picture that he recommended I use for my gmail profile picture. It was a character he created for a game he invented called “Battlemon.” I’m so proud to have that as my profile picture!
A few days ago my 7 year old nephew Jeremiah, while riding in a car with my sister-in-law and two of my brothers, out of nowhere said, “Mom, did you know that Sparta and Athens were city-states, like Washington DC is a city-state?” When she said she didn’t know that and asked him how he did, he talked about he read it in a testing book that he selected about Greece. He then said in a matter-of-fact way, “I figured if I didn’t read it I would never know.” A couple years ago, when his parents took him to Florida and spent a lot of money visiting Disney world, the beach, and all the other attractions – he was asked what his favorite part of the trip was. He said something funny: “Hmm. I have a picture of it in my mind. Oh – I remember!” And then he said his favorite part of the whole trip was going to McDonald’s!
I love getting emails from my nieces and nephews too. Here is a recent exchange with my 11 year old nephew.
Brayton: “Guess What? You don’t have to answer that, I’ll just tell you. I made my own buissnes-like thing. I call it Psych-ix! It’s where my partner and I try to figure out mysteries of the world. But… the thing is, I don’t have a partner yet. But when I do, I’ll Be sure to send you an up-dated page. Bye!!!”
Me: “That is really cool! What are you looking for in a partner? Can I apply?”
Brayton: “I’m not sure, I guess. Okay, the most recent mysterious happenings I have noticed are some dissaperences. I had a little card-like thing with a green ferret I made on it. Here’s what happened, I was at a friend’s house we were in his room, I set the card down on a box that he had and we went outside for a while. When it was time for me to go, I went upstairs to get it, but it was GONE!! I looked around his room, but there was’nt A trace of it anywhere! Isn’t that cool!”
In addition to making me laugh, they make me feel so loved. A couple days ago I also got to meet for the first time my 5 year old nephew Blake (who was just adopted). Already by yesterday he decided to cuddle up to me on the couch and said, “I love you.” I said “I love you too.” Feeling warm and fuzzy, I then turned to my little niece and told her I loved her. She responded by saying, “I love juice,” and then giggling uncontrollably.
It didn’t happen this week but we were remembering how when my niece, Shaelyn, was about 5 years old she was watching TV with my brother. The commercial said, “Every kid thinks their dad is the greatest.” My brother asked her, “Do you think I am the greatest dad in the world?” She said, “Yeah.” He said, “Do you really mean it?” As a five year old, she said, “Well, not really, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings dad.”
Oh man, there are so many more funny stories and memories – but I guess this entry is getting long enough already.
My dad (who I don’t have to pretend to say he is one of the greatest dads in the world) went through a heart attack and emergency heart surgery only a couple of months ago. When I asked him the other day how he was doing and how he was enjoying the trip – he said he thought it was like heaven for him. He was talking not just about his cute grandkids, but also about how meaningful it was for him to notice at night when others began to go to sleep, most or all of his kids migrate towards each other just to play, talk, and laugh.
I don’t think I do a good enough job of telling each of my family how much I love them (through words and actions) but the truth is that I can’t help but feel very lucky that their lives are a part of mine, and that I now get to enjoy all of their spouses and very fun and cute kids too. 🙂
Do you have any favorite “cute kid stories” from the kids in your life? If so I would love to hear them. What is it about spending time with kids that makes life seem better?
Just returning from Denmark (land of some of my ancestors), where I presented a paper at the Aarhus School of Business – “Knowledge 360” conference.
Perhaps the best thing about presenting my paper “Tools and Techniques for Online Cross-Cultural Knowledge Communication” – was that people in the audience knew about research and resources regarding cross-cultural innovation that I was not yet aware of. And it is always good to make connections with people who are doing interesting things which promise some potential of future collaboration.
One of the strangest things is that one of the most prolific faculty at the business school there, Connie Kampf, used to be the friendly girl serving me and my friends Orange Julius when we were teenagers at the Eden Prairie Center shopping mall in Minnesota years and years ago! (It is easy to remember because it was located near the arcade where we could get free tokens for getting good grades on our school report cards.)
In the last couple years, since we have both received our doctorates, I randomly met her in Malta, again in Estonia, now in Denmark and will see her later next month in the south of France!
Just goes to show what a crazy, small world this is – and that you never really know the potential or future of any ordinary person you meet on the street!
*So don’t give up on me just yet, I might one day do something worthwhile. 🙂 (No promises – but I’m just saying it is a possibility.)
I just got my student reviews back from this last semester (see below), and so I thought it would be good to give you a follow-up report on the Web Analytics class (ISys 590R) I was asked to teach. I talked about my unique approach to teaching this semester in a previous blog entry.
In this entry, I wanted to report on how that strategy paid off, and what I would do differently next time.
In the class we:
- covered some of the basics in eBusiness, SEO, online marketing, and the role and value of web analytics in it all,
- dissected web analytics implementation methods and discussed the strengths and weaknesses in each,
- participated in hands-on consulting experiences and data analysis using Site Catalyst (through the Omniture Web Analytics Competition) and Google Analytics (through required personal blogs, and in our case study),
- received exposure and personalized feedback to the experts who are on the cutting-edge of the field (through reading and commenting on expert blogs, guest speakers, participation in the Omniture Summit, and participation in the OWAC competition).
My two goals for the class were:
- create a sharing atmosphere where each person considered themselves a learner and a teacher (through in and out of class hands-on, immediately applicable projects and assignments),
- get students thinking like experts through as much association with as many as possible.
As a result of this class:
- many in the class have received job offers (several with Omniture, and several others with companies they have worked with during the semester as a result of their new skills)
- several in the class who have their own e-businesses have seen an increase in their profitability (some with really cool stories I could tell you)
- overall relationship with some of the major experts in the field has been strengthened
- during the OWAC competition 4 of my students placed in the top 3 teams, wining over $6,000
- several students said it was one of their favorite classes at BYU
- on the last day of class, the students gave a standing ovation (of course they were already standing because they were leaving, and maybe just clapping because they were glad it was over! 😉
Here are some examples of constructive comments that the students in my class last semester made on the anonymous university class evaluation form (they liked the course and the teaching style, but wished for a bit more structure):
Clint is a great professor. He is engaging, inspiring, and just overall, a nice guy. He did a great job of bringing experts in the field into the classroom. He was extremely respectful! Thanks Clint!
Clint is a great teacher. I like his teaching style. We’ve already talked about this, but I think the class needs a little more structure.
This is was one of my favorite classes taken at BYU and the teacher was one of my top 3 favorite teachers I’ve had in my 6 years at BYU.
First Clint was the best prof. that I have ever had in any collage class to date and Clint has left a high standard for any teacher to follow. He made himself very available out of class and maintained great communication out of class via email, and in class. He bent over backwards to get industry leaders in the field to come in and speak with us. WOW Clint is a fantastic teacher and is very open to feedback, almost more welcoming to negative feedback than positive. This great teacher was also aided by the fact that this is a great course which BYU is lucky to have. It will soon be a class at all university’s with any business school of any reputation. I am an electrical engineering major and was happy to come to jump the fence to come to this class. I would love to take Web analytics part 2. I took this class for the subject not because it at all helps me toward by ee degree or strategy minor. That is how important it was to me. I don’t regret it one bit. Two thumbs way up, for the instructor and the class.
This is the best class I have ever taken at BYU. It really helped prepare me for my career. I loved the Web Analytics competition. The professor did a great job making class interesting and keeping everyone involved. I learned a ton.
Maybe it’s the nature of the class but it seems like there was no way to see if a students schedule would be conducive to this class. I understand that during the competition we were busy but then it seemed like after we were done the class was scatter brained. Not the teacher just the class. It seems like assignments were assigned when the teacher felt like they came up, in the sense that as we were talking about different things suddenly he would say, oh great, an assignment! Then we were required to do it. It would have been nice to have a little more structure.
I did love the class though. I felt like I learned a lot and I loved having the guest lecturers. Thanks.
Good class . . . could have used a bit more structure to it, but excellent instructor!
I really like the professor, but I think the class was a little too loosely structured. I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to worry about my grade and I could focus on learning. However, there wasn’t much of a syllabus/course schedule that helped me know what was going on. He did send emails, which helped, but they were only for the next class period or two.
They are much better comments than the first time I got student ratings (about 3 years ago) – so it is nice to see some improvement 🙂 ). As you can see, however, the loose structure of the Web 2.0 approach still left students feeling a little lost. So, in consideration of ways to improve –
- I think there can be a little more structure and guidance, without encroaching on the overall teaching approach (e.g. give a little more details of upcoming events and assignments, request specific things to be blogged about instead of leaving it so much up to students, require in the first couple weeks for students to post a comment or question on an expert blog, etc).
- The other thing that I think would help is to start the consulting experience we do in the class before the OWAC competition, allowing data to be collected during that time, and then analyzing it and giving data-driven recommendations after they have their experience in the competition. This might also give the class a feel of a little more consistency throughout the semester.
It was very fun to teach ISys 590R this semester. I thought it was both personally and professionally rewarding. I hope those students keep in touch – if they keep learning at the same pace it will not be very long before they are the recognized experts in the field.
I also have some more exciting ideas for how to improve even more the tie with experts through the Web 2.0 tools – but perhaps you will have to wait until next semester to find out what those are… 🙂
Through a recent dialogue I have been having online (with someone who is trying to convert me to their world view) – I have more clearly got an idea for what I think is a more helpful mindset and approach to intercultural or interfaith communication. It is a sensitive issue, and I am sure I have made tons of mistakes already in my attempts to build trust and collaboration among different people – so I am very curious what your thoughts are too.
The ideal in my mind is if people go into a situation/conversation/collaboration with the idea that the two or more people (with different perspectives and from different backgrounds) can come up with a better solution than either could on their own. So, in practical terms, that Africans and Europeans, Chinese and Americans, Mormons and Catholics, Muslims and Hindus, Men and Women, etc., etc., etc. (or any number of combinations) working together could come up with a better overall solution than either could on their own.
I now realize that some things help foster the effective collaboration of people with different perspectives, while other things make it very difficult. I’m curious what you think too.
Here is just one thought –
What to do: If the situation is set to invite each person to go into the conversation looking for what the strengths of the other persons perspectives are, and searching for how the best in what the other person believes/perceives can be utilized to the overall benefit of the relationship – that seems to help inspire trust and make for healthy productive collaborations – where a lot of open and interesting learning and innovation can occur.
What not to do: If, on the other hand, either party begins the conversation by feeling it their duty to try and prove something (either the superiority of their own perspective or the faults in the other persons perspective) – assuming the world would just be better if everyone saw things the same way that they did – I think this pushes the conversation into a situation that is less than helpful. I think it is very helpful and healthy to talk about differences and alternative perspectives (especially after a core of trust and respect has been established) – but this ethnocentric/condescending approach (consciously or unconsciously assuming the world would be better if everyone saw things the same way as you) seems to:
- – push the conversation into defensive mode, where each party begins to look for the flaws and holes in the others approach/perspective,
- – closes off the participants to a greater richness of life that comes from seeking to learn, love, and listen, with no strings attached.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree?
What do you think helps for the most productive interfaith/intercultural communication and collaboration?
Differences in Perception, Logic, Reasoning