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1 Our Way to Sincerity
Affirming Civility and Tolerance in Our Daily Work
A friend of mine named Marcus Lopez, a Chicano and an
activist, worked long and hard for equity and social jus-
tice. Marcus would often say, “Remember, it’s nice to be
nice.” I can still hear his voice in my head even though he
died five years ago. I think his little expression was a way
of affirming civility. He was nice and he also stood up to injustice. It sounds
like a contradiction, but it isn’t.
Dancing with conflict is another expression that sounds like two things
that don’t go together. Who likes conflict? Well, maybe some people do,
but I don’t, and most of the people I know don’t either. Conflict seems like
war—or at least seems to lead to war. Personally, I much prefer peace. So
think about the phrase dancing with conflict. The idea of dancing with some-
thing you don’t like sounds strange, but it’s all in your attitude. If you have
a conflict with another person, imagine dancing with them because you are
partners in something, even if it’s something you might regard as negative.
Thinking of an argument like a dance changes the image. And changing the
image gives you power! So let me transfer this theme of conflict and civility
to early childhood education. I’m dedicated to the idea that diversity, equity,
and social justice must always be part of the picture.
Here’s a story to illustrate what I want to focus on: I was at a conference
waiting for a session to start. I found myself standing next to a woman I
hadn’t met before, so I introduced myself. She introduced herself in turn.