Artificial Divides or Not?

There is a river that runs through a county in Nova Scotia where we have been working with a client, hosting conversations about health care and community. Since day one of visiting, beginning with one-on-one interviews with community leaders, we have heard about the “east/west divide that is not really a divide”. Yet, in five different engagement sessions and many more conversations the “divide that is not really a divide” has been mentioned. It seems pretty alive for something that isn’t real.

It turns out that eight years ago in a redistribution of provincial electoral boundaries, a line was drawn in this County along the river that delineates east and west. The east was included in the County further east and the west was included in the County further west. The County’s voice is split. This will apparently be rectified for the next provincial election.

Another divide that may not be so artificial is between rural and urban. In Nova Scotia, this is between “Halifax” and everywhere else. It was said to us directly and indirectly that people in Halifax think people who live in rural areas are not as sophisticated or intelligent as people who choose to live in more urban centres. It is a perception or worldview picked up on in communication cues that signal dismissiveness and also lack of inclusion in discussions or decisions.

Many people who live and work in the city have roots in rural, but they don’t live there anymore and may have blind spots. They have familiarity with their own hometown, which may be the exception to the “rule” of rural. There are always questions: Why would you choose to live so far from the city? Why are you working for an organization that is so challenged in your local community? Unspoken: aren’t you smarter than this?

The rural/urban divide is thought to be more artificial by those living in urban settings and more real by those living in rural, especially the further away from the city core. What other divides exist that are seen to be real by some and artificial to others? Race? Poverty? Power and privilege? This list might be long. It invites curiosity and the suspension of defensiveness or judgment.

Worldview explorations get to the heart of what is “real” behind the perception of “artificial”. Developing the skills provided through Worldview Intelligence helps people become aware of what they are communicating that conflicts with what they are intending.