When our sons are playing, they often fall out of sync. One begins playing in a way that the other does not like. The dissatisfied one, then, expresses his displeasure to us about what the other is doing.
We then say, “Please tell your brother how you do want to play.”
And almost always, he will turn to his brother and, focusing once more on the perceived offense, say, “I don’t like that!”
As you surely have noticed, “I don’t like that!” is not a satisfactory articulation of how he would like to engage.
But how often do we do this very thing in public life! We are experts at saying what we do not like or do not want, and too rarely take the time to articulate a different way forward. It feels more comfortable to comment instead of contribute.
So, if we do not like something that is happening, let’s agree to do the most courageous and productive thing: To say what we do want and what we will commit to in order to bring that thing about. With imagination and commitment, we can play together differently.