If we learn from history we can avoid the mistakes of others. Our pastor is from India. He was telling me about the history of India and British colonial rule. India is a large and highly populated country. It’s remarkable the British could take control. From 1757 the British East India Company controlled India. In 1857 the Hindus and Muslims united in the Great Mutiny. The British put it down but it shocked them so much they instituted a divide and conquer policy to weaken India and maintain control. In 1858 India became a Crown colony until 1947.
The British divided the country based on religion. The Hindus and Muslims had their differences but lived in peace. They even helped one another. The British were able to create distrust among local rulers, encouraged divisions to prevent alliances, promoted those who cooperated with the British and encouraged meaningless expenditures to reduce the capability of military spending. In 1947 when India became independent it was divided into West Pakistan, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which were Muslim and India which was primarily Hindu, Millions of people were forced to move. The division created conflict between India and Pakistan that still exists.
Does this sound familiar? Americans have always had differences but resolved them peacefully for the most part. This isn’t surprising since American is a melting pot of people from all over the world. Differences are our strength. They can create discussion, creativity and innovation. In recent years politicians and political groups have been working to divide us. This division weakens the USA and creates opportunity for implementation of extreme ideas that are normally stopped by the majority of the population. The wolves who want us to think they are shepherds use labels like race, religion, liberal, conservative, gender and other made up labels to divide and weaken the American people.
Divide and conquer isn’t limited to politics. Power hungry managers have used it do divide and weaken their employees so they can’t complain as a group about bad or unjust policies. These power mongers love to start or encourage rumors that pit employees against each other.
We can avoid being divided and conquered. Lynnda and I just returned from Influence 23, the National Speaker’s Association’s (NSA’s) annual convention. Over 1,100 professional keynote speakers, trainers. consultants, facilitators, masters of ceremony and others who use the spoken word to influence others attended.
NSA celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. It was founded in 1973 by Cavett Robert on the principals of professional speakers helping each other and working to create a bigger pie for everyone rather than competing. Discussion of fees is strictly prohibited. Speakers who may compete for the same event routinely help each other with their material and even recommend each other for events.
A speech can be powerful. Lenora Billings Harris, Certified Speaking Professional, Speaker Hall of Fame member and past NSA President presented on main stage. I met Lenora a number of times. She is an incredible woman. Lenora told us about a speech she gave in South Africa in 1994 just before Nelson Mandela became President. Lenora is black. Almost all the attendees were men. Lenora greeted the
attendees and gave them a handout. One woman, who was white, took the handouts and wouldn’t look at or speak to Lenora.
After the speech, the woman, with tears in her eyes, slowly approached Lenora and hugged her. She said, “I’m sorry. I thought, What could a black woman possibly tell me.” The woman told Lenora her husband and sons were part of a group planning to start shooting people after Mandela took office. She added, “Now I know, I need to convince them to lay down their arms.” The two women talked. Lenora knows love casts out fear. Positivity and optimism are powerful. Lenora returned home to the USA. She found out later, the woman succeeded in getting her family and others to lay down their arms. South Africa came together as one nation partly because two women of different races, different nations and backgrounds came together. Anything is possible.
At Influence the 1,100+ attendees were from all over the world. They were of different cultures, backgrounds, races and genders. The major religions were all represented. Attendees ranged in age from teenagers to over 90 years old. We could sit down next to anyone and start a conversation. Martin, the President of the Global Speakers Federation from Germany sat at our table for breakfast one morning. We learned a lot about international cultures. In his own speaking business, Martin helps companies to retain their employees. This is a global problem. Martin said, most young people are willing to work hard but have different ideas about work than their older managers.
The attendees probably didn’t all have the same political views or views on social, economic or environmental issues. That didn’t matter. It didn’t come up in conversation. The universal goal for all of the attendees is to make a positive difference in the world. We all have a story to tell or expertise to share. Some speakers had to overcome physical or sexual abuse, a serious illness, losing limbs or surviving a terrible accident. They shared their attitude and how they got through their challenge. They gave us hope. Together we laughed, we cried. We learned from the best in the business. We smiled, shared and encouraged others.
Before we can feed others, we must first feed ourselves. NSA conferences like Influence feed me. After spending four days with positive uplifting people who believe in their future it’s easy to be optimistic. Most important, speakers from all over the world came together to help each other, focusing on the common dream to uplift and encourage people everywhere making the world better. That should give us hope. We can over-come the wolves trying to divide us by focusing on a common goal. We are better together.
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.