Let’s agree to disagree…

This week, when voters in 22 states cast their ballots in Presidential Primary races, they took part in what is a 230-year-old social experiment. When the framers were writing the Constitution, it was feared, amongst many people in the young nation, that a nation could not be formed because the power of factions would undoubtedly trample the rights of the minority.

In the months following the writing of the United States Constitution, a group of men – Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison – wrote a series of essays arguing in favor of forming the Union. Signing them “Publius,” these essays appeared in various papers to persuade wary voters to ratify the constitution. Federalist No. 10, written by James Madison, provided a pivotal argument for the creation of a union. Madison writes:

Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

In this statement, and throughout the essay, Madison argues that a diversity of ideas encourages liberty and that a republican government prevents any one faction from trampling the rights of others. In other words: reasonable people can disagree.

And so, for the last 230 years, we have been a nation that disagrees without being disagreeable…well – with the exception of the 4 years of the Civil War. It could be argued that this commitment to enlightened discourse that has helped propel the US through the trials that would otherwise undo any young nation.

So what does this have to do with corporate training? Well, if a diversity of ideas is key to the birth, growth, and success of a young nation – what can it do for your organization? At Barnes & Conti, we call it Constructive Debate. This process allows you to express your ideas, engage the opinions of others, build on one another’s ideas, challenge one another’s thinking, and empower your organization to move forward. Constructive Debate is at the cornerstone of all collaboration efforts and prevents great ideas and “off-the-wall” notions from being quieted by loud voices and emotion rather than passion.

As this election year presses on, we are reminded that this democratic experiment has succeeded largely because civil discourse has allowed the best ideas to rise and for majority rule to exist without trampling minority rights. Similarly, discussion and debate can be the air that feeds the fire of success in your organization.

Grace Boone is Barnes & Conti’s Marketing Manager.

For more information on how Constructive Debate can help your organization, visit: http://barnesconti.com/programs/debate.html or call Barnes & Conti at 800.835.0911

For the full text of Federalist No. 10: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/federal/fed10.htm

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