A diversity of goodwill

"The fact that we don't have anything in common is what we all have in common."

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"The fact that we don't have anything in common is what we all have in common." I love ICS parent Shell Remirez's bottom line quote in a New York Times article about ICS last year. But when I read it, I wanted to add: "Yet we are determined to presume goodwill for one another anyway."[Today's blog is by ICS mom Marney Mayo.]

Last week I went with the third grade on a field trip to the Georgia capitol as part of their International Baccalaureate unit on how our government works. In an exercise with the tour guide, the children passed a bill - in less than five minutes - requiring free ice cream every Friday. One child made the request. Half the group, acting as the house, voted in favor. The other half, acting as the Senate, followed suit. A teacher was drafted to be the governor and agreed to sign the bill.

It was simple, friendly, fast, and nothing like the layers of subcommittees, egos, confusion and power struggles of the real-life legislative process. Yet, ugly human characteristics do exist, and when you consider the human damage of war and unrestrained power, you appreciate any process calculated to substitute for war.

Labels or differences of any kind often undercut easy assumptions of community as Eboo Patel's op-ed piece in the Washington Post eloquently describes.

The existence of a "presumption of goodwill" often is predictive of whether a supportive community exists. Given ICS's diversity, I believe that it is a critical behavior for ICS. I have found myself assessing situations and people for this quality, and trying to modify my own behavior to inspire goodwill in others - even when I don't feel inclined to and their behavior seems to show that they have no interest in my concerns. I have found that this, along with a willingness to engage in dialogue rather than debate, can inspire the return of goodwill over time.

So when I read the story of Dawami's day in court with this lens, I see a policeman and judge who are impatient and unsympathetic about Dawami's language barrier. To say more is speculation from the evidence presented in the article. And I see a prosecutor who, although also impatient, admitted he did not have the resources to figure out the truth, yet felt enough goodwill and desire for justice to ask Mary if she could help him understand what happened. Dawami left with a clean record and no need to return. Welcome to America.

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