Local Mediator, Kids Weigh In on Solutions to Government Shutdown

October 7, 2013

With some staunch views and little budging from members of both political parties during the government shutdown, one local mediator says lawmakers just need to stop and listen.

"What's happened is they're looking at it as a win-lose situation, that if one of them wins, the other one loses," said Cyndy Martin, a mediator with the Mediation Center of Charlottesville. "So if one of them blinks, they will be considered the loser, they will look weak."

Martin says since much of this debate is playing out in the public's eye, it gives lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle some additional inspiration to be stubborn.

"That's when you need to sit down and listen to each other,. and they're not listening to each other," Martin said. "They're both stuck in their own ways, and they're not listening or considering the other point of view."

And Martin is getting some support in her opinion, coming from an unassuming group of citizens who might not understand the debt ceiling or health care, but understand how to make important decisions.

The Newsplex spoke with students at Johnson Elementary School in Charlottesville to get their take on how to find common ground.

"I would just go with a friend instead of what I wanted to do," first-grader Steve Borington said. "It's much easier because you and your friend don't have to fight over anything."

"For half, I'll go with the other person," first-grader Oumou Sanda said. "Then for half, I'll go with the other person."

The kids say fighting just wastes time, and compromising is the way to make things work.

"You agree with someone else, then the other person might come along and agree with you," said Michelle, a Johnson kindergartener.

"The kids are not out there so much to make a point," Martin said. "They're not out there to compete, to be the winner or the loser, so much. They want to work it out. They want to be friends again."

So with some kinder language and some additional guidance, the kids say there can be a solution to any problem out there without consequences.

"You can figure it out," Michelle said.

Martin says lawmakers can learn from the students at Johnson Elementary. She said they have to avoid making the discussion a competition and work to find the win-win solution.

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