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The Road Out of Ferguson

In the midst of this holiday season, as we struggle to cope with and move beyond the shock of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision and its aftermath, two voices have risen above the din suggesting that the road out of Ferguson is paved with EQ.

ObamaThe day the Ferguson Grand Jury decision was handed down, President Obama made a statement to the nation loaded with pleas for us to collectively activate our Emotional Intelligence. President Obama’s Full Ferguson Grand Jury Statement

Numerous calls for restraint (Impulse Control) were issued to both beleaguered law enforcement on one hand and an oppressed citizenry on the other. This even-handed openness to the tensions and viewpoints of both sides of this drama demonstrated an emotional sensitivity (Empathy) that was central to Obama’s brief address. The President went on to call on both sides to step outside of their respective viewpoints to do what is best for the larger community—law enforcement to discern between peaceful protest and the handful of law breakers and for the disheartened citizenry to remember that change within our system happens legislatively, not violently on the streets. This was Obama’s call to Social Responsibility.

Benjamin Watson

Benjamin Watson, Tight End, New Orleans Saints

Obama then pivoted to challenge all Americans to see this as not merely a Ferguson, Missouri news event, but a national task. He challenged us to continue to work on the issues that underpin this tragic event—racial injustice, poverty, and equality of both access to the system and protection under the law. These challenges (Self-Actualization) reflect Optimism. As painful as the day was, the United States is on a trajectory of positive growth—but we need to keep striving.

About the same time I was tuning into President Obama’s Ferguson Grand Jury statement, I learned about Benjamin Watson’s beautiful Facebook post. Watson is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, and he posted an explanation of his complex and, in ways, contradictory feelings in the aftermath of the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict. It is one of the most elegant examples of Emotional Self-Awareness that I have seen. Benjamin Watson’s Facebook Post

Watson ends his post—as Obama ended his address—with a hopeful look to the future. After (and even during) anger and hopelessness there are hopefulness and encouragement. Like the President, Watson calls on us, through his example, to engage our Emotional Intelligence, suggesting that the road out of Ferguson is paved with EQ.

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