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Disagreement calls for calm discussion of facts

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Calm, reasoned discussion of facts is the best approach

Gotham City, apparently: There have been six reported break-ins in my neighborhood in the past two months. This is very alarming to me, and I really want to move to a "safer" (read: more gentrified) neighborhood, a notion my husband finds offensive. He thinks it is our responsibility as concerned citizens to participate in programs that strengthen our community, not to bail when it starts to feel too dangerous. I am more worried about our safety and that I won't be able to talk him into moving when we eventually have kids, and I just want to get out of here. Whose side are you on?

Carolyn: Such a combative way to frame it.

I'm on the side of couples who listen to each other and approach difficult subjects with their dukes down, vs. those who pick a position and dig in.

I'm on the side of people who take thoughtful actions based on facts, vs. those who employ numbers that may or may not pass statistical muster to justify hysteria (or just to lobby for what they want).

I'm on the side of people who are mindful of their impact on loved ones when they choose to take a principled stand.

I'm on the side of people who compare apples with apples, vs. those who use an apple (six break-ins) to judge an orange (where you'll raise the kids you don't have yet).

You both owe it to each other — and to yourselves — to have your facts straight, to challenge any assumptions you're making, and to put yourselves in each other's shoes.

Some things to consider, toward that end: How wide a definition are you using of the term "neighborhood"? Twenty households, or 500? How violent have these crimes been? How has your local law enforcement responded? Is it considered to be the work of one burglar who found good pickings in your neighborhood — i.e., is this random? — or is your part of town often a target for crime?

How safe are your streets for walking around? Have you talked to anyone who is raising children in your neighborhood?

Do you have this same information on the "gentrified" neighborhoods you're coveting? How does it compare?

Those neighborhoods alone are the heart of a whole other line of potential questioning — covering everything from values to commute times to lifestyles. It can't be all about numbers of break-ins per capita, can it?

Getting a hold on these facts isn't just about responsible decisionmaking; it's also about showing respect for each other. It says you won't attack something the other person values without a darn good reason to do that.

Right now, you're both dug in on abstract concepts — physical safety vs. moral obligations. It'll be more accessible to you both — and less emotionally charged — if you take a practical approach: How do you envision your day-to-day lives together? What cost of living, lifestyle, commute, demographics, zoning, etc., suits the two of you best, and what location best suits those needs? Sticking to facts, on this and anything else, is a way to cool the emotional jets, enough to get you talking again.

Disagreement calls for calm discussion of facts 08/09/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 12:27pm]
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