Seeing Both Sides of the Paddle

Paddle Ball.

Written by: Kelley Gondring, Esq. of Gondring Law

Fifteen years after Brown v. Board of Education ruled that segregating schools under the guise of “separate but equal,” was unconstitutional, most of North Carolina’s schools had not eliminated the practice.  When I picture that conflict, I can’t say I envy the individual appointed to desegregate every school in the state.  But that is exactly what Dr. Dudley E. Flood began doing in 1968.

When the all-white Hyde County School Board realized that they could lose federal funding if they failed to desegregate, they made the unilateral decision to close Black schools and reassign all of their students to white schools.  In response to one-way desegregation, Black students boycotted.  By the time Dr. Flood began his work, Black students had forgone an entire year of school and tensions were high.

At his first townhall, Dr. Flood produced one of those wooden paddles with a little ball attached.  He outstretched his arm, paddle in hand, and asked audience what color it was. After a moment, a man in the crowd called out that it was red. Dr. Flood corrected him and said it was green.  The man insisted.  So did Dr. Flood. After a few exchanges, Dr. Flood turned the paddle around to reveal that what each of them was saying was, in fact, true.  One side was red; one side was green.  He told his audience:

“If I were to come around and see how this looks to you and you were to come around and see how this looks to me, might we not come to a different conclusion about what we are dealing with? As long as long as I only see one side of this and it is absolutely, undeniably true, then I assume that is the way, the side, the answer. But there is a greater answer if I were to see each of the sides.”

As a mediator, I work with you and your spouse so that each of you is able to see both sides of the paddle.  Once we understand (not necessarily agree with) both perspectives, we work together to create a greater solution than was ever contemplated at the kitchen table.

As a Collaborative attorney, I assist you in advocating for the things you need, such as financial security or consistency for the children, while also assisting you in seeing your spouse’s perspective so you can find a greater solution for your family.

Most divorcing spouses do not want a messy divorce.  They do not want to fall into the stereotype of the couple that spends vast sums of money and time litigating over their children and their money.  But at the same time, divorcing spouses often have too much hurt to see both sides of the paddle without professional assistance, so conversations that start amicably devolve quickly.  When you need more support than sitting around the kitchen table can offer, but you don’t want to lose privacy or control of the resolution, Collaborative Divorce and Mediation are excellent options.

Dr. Flood says that he learned that “what makes it work is not a court order, not a mandate.  It’s people working with each other with open minds and trying to find ways to make it better for the children.”  While he was speaking of desegregating schools, the same holds true when spouses have decided it is necessary to separate.  To schedule a consultation and learn more about what divorce process best meets your goals, email us at or give us a call at 336.724.4488.


*This blog was originally published here by Kelley Gondring of Gondring Law.

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