Today’s Word on Áccent: Unity

We’re now approaching the inauguration of a new president. One side won; the other lost, as happens every four years for a presidential election, and in countless other ways throughout all of our lives, some momentous, some trivial. The real focus now should be on what will happen next. How will we respond to recent events, including the storming of the U.S. Capitol?

Will we respond with vengeance or forgiveness? Contempt or respect? Division or unity?

When people have competing interests, how do they work things out? Do we let anger rule the day, or do we use our heads and stay calm? Do we force our way through to get what we want through sheer power? Or do we seek to compromise? Giving a little and getting a little? Talking a little and listening a whole lot more?

There’s always much we can learn from literature and art. In C. S. Lewis’s children’s novel The Horse and His Boy, there’s a scene when a defeated foe, Prince Rabadash, is brought before a council in chains. He’s given every opportunity to apologize and repent for his misdeed of attacking a peaceful country, Archenland, without any preceding diplomacy or forewarning, which he refuses to do. At one point, the child Prince Corin of Archenland makes a remark that makes fun of Rabadash, and his father, King Lune, says, “Shame, Corin … Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you: then, as you please.”

Another example comes from the movie Invictus, in which Nelson Mandela, as president of South Africa, is trying to restore unity after decades of the evils of apartheid. He says, “This is no time to celebrate petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation using every single brick available to us.”

It’s not really necessary to expand on these thoughts; they speak for themselves. Here is some additional wisdom from others as we face this uncertain time:

  • If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better. — Lyndon Johnson
  • Furious activity is no substitute for understanding. — H.H. Williams
  • To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to. — Kahlil Gibran
  • Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. — Dale Carnegie
  • Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. — Carl Jung
  • Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means, through dialogue, education, knowledge, and through humane ways. — Dalai Lama XIV
  • If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. — Desmond Tutu
  • If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. — Nelson Mandela

Finally, in remembrance of one of the greatest peacemakers of our time, here is something he said that we should all take to heart:

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method that rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. — The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.


Lewis, C. S. (2013). The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection (Kindle Edition). HarperCollins. (n.d.). “Invictus” Quotes (2009).

Today’s Words on Áccent: Critical Thinking

In an election year, if you’re not already an ideologue who has chosen sides, how can you possibly wade through all of the political rhetoric and claims (especially in social media) in order to decide what’s true and what’s not?

Learning to think critically can help. You may still get fooled by something that’s not true (we all have at some point, haven’t we?), but you’ll at least have a fighting chance to discover the truth.

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As an organizational psychologist, one of the things that is of concern to me as I have perused social media and other media in the past few years isn’t the divide among right and left in political opinions, it’s the contempt that one side often shows for the other. I’d like to compare this state of affairs in U.S. politics (and this may be true of other Western democracies) to a marriage gone bad.


Today’s Word on Áccent: Strength

In the midst of all the coronavirus craziness and anxiety, I was searching for a good word to write about. My inspiration came from reading so many posts on social media about how people are coming together, many offering their personal strengths in order to benefit others.

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Today’s Word on Áccent: Division

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation. — Herbert Spencer

“United we stand, divided we fall” is the paraphrase of a saying by John Dickinson, considered one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States. In thinking about the politically divisive times in which we now live in this country, we would all do well to heed those words today.

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Book by Diverse Graduate Students Provides Business Tips Based on Psychology

Some of the authors of People Practics on graduation day, April 30, 2019.

While most graduates go their separate ways after the commencement ceremony, one group of 13 doctoral program alumni worked together to write a business book, People Practics: 17 Practical Tactics for Business & Nonprofit Success, released Tuesday. It is based on what they learned about organizational psychology. These new “doctors” graduated in April from Phillips Graduate University in Chatsworth, Calif., a standalone graduate school of psychology that was recently renamed the Phillips Education Center for Campbellsville University.

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Today’s Word on Áccent: Gratitude

I’ve been celebrating the month of November with Facebook posts about “gratitude” (see My favorite quote on the subject comes from American author Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

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Today’s Word on Áccent: Diversity

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Diversity, in its simplest sense, means variety. But in the last few decades it has taken on a political definition, encompassing ideas such as individual and group rights, inclusion, identity, multiculturalism, and social justice. Today, we hear terms that were not widely known even ten years ago, such as white privilege, microaggression, and intersectionality.

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Today’s Words on Áccent: Freedom of Speech

I approached today’s topic already supporting the need for freedom of speech in a democratic society (which puts me solidly in the camp with most Americans). But I was also curious about the reasons behind our society’s growing desire to punish hate speech. So I put on my research hat and started digging.

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