Don't Choose Sides, Choose Respect

Respect and value for the individual.

There’s a reason why that is one of the core values we strive for every day at Select Security. We believe that understanding that others can have different viewpoints and experiences is key to building strong workplaces, communities, and a civilized society.

But what we look for within our walls, seems to be missing in the world outside. A day doesn’t pass without another shooting, without another family learning their loved one will not return home, and without another community left aching.

This isn’t a case of right sides and wrong sides… it really isn’t. Both have their valid points, and both have the right to their opinions. The issue is that we’ve become accustomed to taking strong and inflexible positions; taking sides without being willing to listen. It seems the goal is to shout the loudest, and make simplistic overgeneralizations that may seem valid, but don’t allow any other viewpoint to be heard or considered.

And the end result? Things get so heated, and progress so far, that people who start with good intentions think violence is a good way to silence others and have their voices heard.

I’m in the business of helping others; keeping people and property safe and secure. Unfortunately, our country right now is experiencing feelings of helplessness, unrest, and worry for both their safety and security. As a leader in the electronic security industry, I take the topic of safety and security very seriously. As American citizens, regardless of our position on these events, we should all care too. These recent events have shaken our values, affected our homes and businesses, and challenged what we stand for as a country.

In reaction to the unfolding of these events, I feel that as a society we’re moving backwards. We’re overgeneralizing, making blanket statements about certain groups of people, and listening to (and even commending) persons in public facing positions who have made indifferent comments about race and religion. Freedom of speech and a healthy civic debate are part of what makes the United States special, and while there have always been those who try to silence others, I think recent events show things are different now.

But how did we get here? 10 years ago we expressed our opinions at the dinner table, over a cup of coffee, or in groups of friends or coworkers. Fast forward those 10 years, and we now turn to social media to share the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. One of the main factors driving a wedge between these different factions is social media. Just as the industrial revolution forced cultural change (and some violent reactions) the digital revolution is doing the same. Social media has given an outsized voice to anyone with access to the Internet, and we are now struggling to cope with the results.

You can’t scroll your Facebook or Twitter feeds without seeing emotionally charged statements, some outraged by what’s going on, and some applauding these horrific events. Regardless of the position these individuals have taken on social media, the mere act of posting comments, videos, and statuses has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the individuals who orchestrated these events.

Now despite my thoughts on social media being used to fan the flames in this situation, I also feel that social media can be a good thing. I am well aware of the effects of social media when it comes to connecting people in difficult times and giving a voice to individuals who need and want to be heard, and appreciate the irony in my posting these thoughts in my online blog. What we need to do is learn how to be responsible with our newfound power.

For example, I and other electronic security industry leaders should be using our voices at this time to talk about security and safety in our places of work, our communities, our neighborhoods, and in our homes. With our knowledge and leadership, we can make a difference in the communities where we live, work, and serve our customers.

Just as society found a new normal after the changes brought by the industrial revolution settled, so will today’s generations. I’m confident we will figure out how to deal with the unprecedented access to information, transparency, and the ability to voice our opinions worldwide. We’ll be changed as a society, but we will get through this.

In the meantime, join me in showing respect and value for all. You don’t have to agree, but stop and listen to others. Take the time to listen to opposing viewpoints, choose your words carefully, and thank those who go to work and put their lives on the line to protect our right to speak. Bad people can be found anywhere, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good people on both sides.