It is said that relationships aren’t great because they are free from problems, but they are great because people care enough about each other to make them work. It saddens us whenever our members get into a disagreement and even more so when it is over food, household necessities and inexpensive gifts. During a recent event, 2 care-givers with children-in-tow created a scene when one accused the other of taking her child’s gift of a school bag. They had to be separated and to prove her innocence, the accused purchased a similar bag and got a neighbour to bring it to the home of her accuser the following day. It was money that she could ill afford to spend, and the gesture would not have been necessary if there had been no disagreement.
“I don’t know where to put my face,” a father told us after the quarrel was contained. He articulated the sentiments of everyone else who were disappointed that their lovely afternoon had to end on such a sour note. “I wish they can see that their quarrel affects all of us and what is the organiser now thinking about all of us!” the man elaborated. He then asked us to “do something.” “Yes, we can help but it is the neighbours that have to do something,” we told him. 2 days ago, as we were inviting people to come for a conversation on the matter, we learnt that one of the mothers in the quarrel was hospitalised. When we informed the other, she immediately said that she would visit her at the hospital. We were most heartened that she would be doing something that hopefully will pave the way for reconciliation among neighbours.
At another neighbourhood, a WhatsApp group set up to promote cooperation became a battleground where insults were traded leading to much disillusionment and hurt among its members. On Monday, 6 neighbours gathered at the void deck for an ‘understanding circle.’ Although they came in peace, it was still awkward as the insults were fresh in their memory. The ice was broken when one of them asked for help to bring over some stools from her home so that the group did not have to sit on the floor. It was a gracious gesture that led another to bring some chocolate milk and paper cups.
These actions spoke to people and they took turns to speak of the unfairness they perceived in the distribution of food and other resources. With the conversation regulated by a talking piece, people took their time to elaborate how they came to their conclusion of unfairness while others listened without rebutting. When it was her turn to speak, the leader apologised sincerely for not managing the distribution exercises and other efforts better and advocated for dialogue and patience among members. As the conversation circled, rules of engagement and conflict resolution were established. As the tension subsided, the talking piece was put away and the conversation closed with a huddle.
Enjoy your weekend.
Humility has such power. Apologies can disarm arguments. Contrition can defuse rage. Olive branches do more good than battle axes ever will. – Max Lucado