LETTER: People should discuss issues openly and honestly


I spent the past weekend staying with an intentional community on Staten Island. Apprehensive at first, as I arrived and was handed the key to the house I was to be staying in, which was also a key to all of the buildings owned by the community, I decided to get stuck in as much as I could. The group embrace diversity and only follow four simple rules, with their key goal being to work out problems together. 

Often I find that communities get ignorantly labelled “cults," but this group was far from that. Five times a week 'planning meetings' are held to discuss issues in a democratic way. Everyone gets the chance to speak and be heard, and any negativity or conflict that may arise in these meetings (as it often does) gets discussed and worked out. While this means that issues can take a long time to get resolved as often people have differing opinions, it enables everyone to understand exactly why people may think in a particular way, and as a result the group can move forward to a solution that suits everyone in some way. 

By discussing these issues as they arise, the community at Staten Island was able to build understanding relationships. The system was not perfect, as few things are, and people do not always see eye to eye, but I believe that if we were to adopt this attitude of tackling problems as soon as they arise openly and honestly, then it could prevent a lot of issues from escalating and enable people to build more understanding relationships. 

If someone had said this to me before my visit that weekend, I would have told them that it would never work, that issues would never get resolved and they would go round and round with people not listening to one another. But, I have since learned that although far from perfect, it works. It has worked for the past 35 years and is continuing to work as the group that currently has between 60 and 70 members continues to grow. This attitude can be applied to families, the workplace and even college.

Lois Boyle is a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

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Lois Boyle

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