Okay, quiz time . . . can you give me the name of the person who made this quote famous—“Can we all get along?” I’ll give you a hint (well, the picture to the left gives it away but no peeking!). The incident that quote came from happened in Los Angeles in March 1991 which eventually lead to the LA riots of 1992. Give up?
Okay, it was Rodney King (1965-2012), “an African-American construction worker who while on parole for robbery became nationally known after being beaten with excessive force by Los Angeles police officers following a high-speed car chase on March 3, 1991. Four of the police officers from the LAPD who engaged in the incident were charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force for their conduct during the incident. The jury deadlocked at 8-4 in favor of acquittal, and the acquittals are generally considered to have triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which 53 people were killed, and over two thousand were injured. The riots ended after soldiers from the United States Army National Guard, along with United States Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton, California, were called in to assist local authorities and quell the riots” (quote source Wikipedia.com).
As Rodney King asked (and the question still remains unanswered), “Can we all get along?” What happened to him–the severe beating–and the outcome–the acquittals of the officers who beat him so severely–lead to the 1992 riots in LA.
“Can we all get along?” Well, can we???
Towards the end of the movie, “Two Weeks Notice” (2002), Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is talking with her father, Larry (Robert Klein), and here’s a brief part of their conversation:
Larry: “. . . As long as people can change, the world can change.”
Lucy: “Yeah, but what if people can’t change?”
Larry: “Well . . . let me put it this way. I’m sitting here eating a piece of cheesecake made entirely of soy (Larry has high cholesterol). And I hate it, but I’m eating it.”
I understand where Lucy is coming from with her question to her dad. After spending 60 years on this planet, what I’ve discovered is that people rarely change, and mostly only when they are forced to by circumstances (and even then they resist it). I think that’s where “passive/aggressive” tendencies have their start. Seems just about everybody is bullheaded (especially in passive ways) and they don’t want to change (and that’s when the aggressive side of the issue rears it’s ugly head). Just look at some of the signs and symptoms of passive/aggressive behavior (source: Mayo Clinic):
- Resentment and opposition to the demands of others
- Complaining about feeling underappreciated or cheated
- Memory lapses
- Cynical or hostile attitude
Sounds like a lot of work (and other) environments, doesn’t it? But, wait a minute . . . do you find yourself in that list occasionally or maybe not-so-occasionally? Be honest now. Sometimes I think Americans invented the term. And just like Lucy, I’m cynical (oops, one of the last items on the list) about people’s ability to change because for the most part everybody wants their own way and when they don’t get it, all that passive/ aggressive behavior comes into play.
It’s easy to hate what we don’t understand, and change is a part of that. So are people. We hate change, especially in the work place, and we also have a big tendency to hate and prejudge people we don’t understand (see blog post by “penni4urthoughts” as an example). And just look at the election process in America if you don’t believe that. Mudslinging is a normal part of the process. But what’s normal about mudslinging? It comes from ignorance and opposition, and is fueled by fierce competitiveness and it doesn’t care about truth, or justice. It only cares about winning. And it only cares about itself. Only Superman fights for “truth, justice and the American way.” The rest of us prefer to sling mud at those we don’t understand or want to dominate or, yes, crush.
“Can we all get along?”
The kind of attitude mentioned above is about as opposite as one can get from what the Apostle Paul had to say to the Philippians in Phil. 2:3-11:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
I love being with people . . . most of the time. There is a special joy that resonates in our hearts when we are with people we enjoy. But unfortunately we are not always with those we like to be around. Sometimes people can be prickly, which may be why someone has said, “The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog!” When we don’t find joy in a relationship, we tend to blame the other person; then we excuse ourselves as we exit to be with people we like.
The apostle Paul asks us to lovingly engage with our brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, he calls all of us to be “of one accord,” to look out “for the interests of others,” and to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:2-5). Think about it. Jesus gave up His own prerogatives and privileges for us; He chose to live as a servant and paid the ultimate sacrifice that He might bring us into a joy-filled relationship with Him (see Heb. 12:2). And He did all that in spite of our prickliness (see Rom. 5:8).
So next time you are with someone who is not easy to get along with, ask Jesus to help you find a way to extend His love. In time, you might be surprised by how God can change your attitude about people. ~Joe Stowell
Lord, thank You that while I was still offensive to You,
You saved me with Your sacrificial love. Give me the
same courage and grace to extend to others the love
that You have so graciously extended to me.
The key to getting along with others
is having the mind of Christ.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit . . . .”
“In humility consider others better than yourselves . . . .”
“Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others . . . .”
Do we have to go to another planet to find people who actually live like this? When was the last time we considered others better than ourselves? Self-promotion is EVERYWHERE in our society. And when was the last time we actually tried to put ourselves in the shoes of someone we didn’t understand or actually try to experience life from their point of view? No, we judge and condemn those we don’t understand instead and dismiss them as irrelevant.
It’s been twenty years since Rodney King asked that question and our society has only gotten worse since then. When will we ever learn? This life is not just about us and what we want and getting our own way or hating people we don’t understand.
Is anybody listening?
“Can we all get along?”
YouTube Video: “Lean On Me” sung by Bill Withers: