by Dewey Compton
Once upon a time, there was a small town.
When it first began being built, it was very prestigious and many people moved into it. It flourished for many many years until other towns began being built and people moved to them. Soon new towns’ people moved in and struggled economically and their families became broken.
The mayor and city officials were disturbed and made huge changes to help these struggling people. They brought in caring citizens who would work directly with these towns’ people and help them and teach them how to change their mindset and be successful. It was very revolutionary. But over time, the town’s leadership changed and the people struggled even more and became disconnected hating the town, it’s leaders and it’s own people.
But there were the original citizens many who still continued to care and learn to love the struggling people. They built relationships and really got to know these people and all the traumatic events of their lives. These citizens dedicated much of their time and lives to helping the townspeople succeed. In fact, relationships and trust were built to a level the mayor and city officials were not aware of.
One day, the mayor looked out of his window in the town. He saw many of the people on the streets walking and talking about. As he scanned the streets, he saw a citizen slap a towns’ person on the cheek. This shocked him, and he was filled with fear and worry. Quickly, he gathered all the council members and told them about this. “I saw one of our trusted citizens slap a townsperson.” One of the council members said, “We cannot have our citizens slapping our townspeople! Our community will think we have lost control of the people. What should we do?”
Instead of inquiring about the truth of what the mayor saw or applying the training practices of Getting Curious, Not Furious, or Restorative Practices, they sent it to the governor and out of fear, quickly decided to get this citizen off the street and away from the townspeople. The leaders were afraid the media might see it and the mayor would look bad.
This citizen who knew the mayor very well realized the mayor didn’t know him. He was brought into the mayor’s office and told to stay away from the streets and the people. His keys to the city were revoked, and he was told not to come back until an investigation was completed. They made decisions without all the facts and ignoring the context of the relationship the citizen had with the towns’ people. They didn’t investigate to see the citizen was telling a joke for a theatrical performance of the fake slap for entertaining the townspeople and specifically to cheer up a very sick townsperson.
This citizen was completely shocked that the mayor and officials had lost their trust in their citizens. The officials' time was consumed with trying to fix all the other problems in the city. Many of them and council members were overwhelmed with reacting to the townspeople’s anger problems. They became so focused on dealing with the behavior of the towns’ people and its citizens instead of their vision and mission in building their future identity, character, and getting to the root of their problems.
In fact, it became the norm to stay in their offices and deal with the consequences, rather than be out on the streets building relationships with the people and loving them.
The town stayed in peril until the mayor left. Then a new mayor was elected. She brought change and a servant’s heart of leadership. Relationships began being built again. The town was no longer in peril.