Let someone else address that issue

Last week I had an exchange with someone that I would classify as a hard conversation. It was one of those conversations that had been a long time coming. I brought up a pattern of behavior that had been driving me crazy on and off for years. A pattern that I kept ignoring because it didn’t happen every day and it just felt easier not to “go there”. I assumed it would be met defensively and would be emotionally charged for both of us and so I took the easy road and just ignored it. Over and over and over again I ignored it. Until for some reason last week I just could not ignore it any longer.

The end result was a good one. Honestly, I am still surprised by that. Yes, it got heated at times, but the result was we found common ground and found where we both needed to make changes. A good outcome that was worth the discomfort in the long run.

I came home that day and looked up something I had read by Cynthea Jones:

Refusing to address an issue or speak up when an agreement is being violated is privileged behavior. Anytime I say, “Let someone else address that issue,” I am considering myself entitled to pass the burden of integrity on to some other authority. I have to ask myself why I believe I have the right to make a misunderstanding, a violation of agreements, or a blatant unkindness someone else’s task. If I am present during the encounter, why is it someone else’s job to address the issue? I find this to be a good question for those of us who strive not to unconsciously assume privilege.

I wrestle with this. I have wrestled with it in the past and I am sure I will again in the future. The thing is, as much as I don’t want it to be true, I think she’s right.


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3 thoughts on “Let someone else address that issue

  1. Jo November 19, 2014

    It’s like anytime else you leave someone else to pick up a mess, eh? Like walking by litter in the park, or leaving dirty dishes in the sink as “someone else will get that.” Sometimes, I suppose, it legitimately IS inappropriate for you to clean up — I wouldn’t walk into a new friend’s house and immediately say “Let me clean this!”, (how rude!) unless they said they were struggling with the mess. But most of the time … the world is a better place if I pick up that potato chip bag in the park — it’s how we prevent our public spaces from slowly degrading into the tragedy of the commons.

  2. Janice Hays Khan November 19, 2014

    This was exactly what I needed to see today. Elizabeth, do you have a “citation” for this quote? I would love to share it with my social work students and I strive to give them sources.

    Deeply meaningful to me! Thanks!

  3. Elizabeth December 13, 2014

    I have to apologize. I just this morning saw you asked if I had a citation for the quote. The whole section that is indented was written by Cynthea Jones in a piece on the Hierarchy of Commitment that is included in her Playing for the Song work. She put “Let someone else address that issue” in quotes to delineate from the rest of what she was writing. She often did that. I continue to find her writing on this subject so meaningful in my life. So sorry to have taken so long to respond to you!


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