HOW TO EFFECTIVELY DEAL WITH POLARITY POLITICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY, and HOW TO ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE
[Inspired by a stimulating conversation with Tara House over a cup or two of most excellent craft-brewed coffee]
Good Morning, America!
I thought for today, this national day of Gratitude & Thanksgiving, I might take a little break from the omnipresent force of AI, and change up the topic a bit. A topic as near and dear to my heart as technology. The topic? Participative Democracy. So… let’s get right to it, shall we?
How many times have you said or heard this sentiment in the past 24 months:
“I’m really angry about (Trump / Biden / Evangelicals / ‘Woke’ Liberals / insert your hot button here)… and I just don’t know what to do about it!”— Citizen X
Well, dear readers, I just might happen to have a solution for you.
That is… if you’re interested in doing something beyond complaining… if you genuinely care about fixing the problem and finding a solution.
If you meet those qualifications (a high bar, I admit), I encourage you to go ahead and try these proven suggestions on for size. [actual mileage may vary]
- Don’t Vote. Your individual vote is utterly meaningless.
- Realize that the myth of Polarization is just that: a Myth
- Get out of your Echo Chamber.
- Have authentic conversations with some people outside your circle.
- Be open to listen. Be strong to speak.
- Convince 3 other people to vote with you.
- NOW, Vote. Your collective vote is powerful.
That’s the bullet points. Now let’s expound a bit.
Here’s the plan, in detail:
ONE: Don’t Vote.
Your vote is thrown into a colossal national box alongside 100 million other meaningless votes. Do you know what percent 1/100,000,000 represents? Effectively, zero. That’s what an individual vote is. Your are not special, your vote gives you no representation, and your vote is not your “voice.” Your individual vote is, in fact, utterly insignificant.
TWO: Confront and deconstruct the Myth of Polarization.
That Americans are gravitating more and more to extreme positions. Realize that this myth is continually amplified and profitably propagated by Bad Actors and Big Media who have their own well-planned agendas… agendas which are not at all aligned with the Good of the People. The fact is, and always has been true of the media: Conflict Makes Money. Shameless propagation of the illusion of conflict produces more actual conflict (see : Pizzagate). More Conflict produces more Attention. More Attention produces more Profits. The Cycle expands, accelerates, continues.
THREE: Get out of your Echo Chamber.
Take that righteous anger and indignation, and instead of sitting around sipping red wine (or drinking light beer, pick your poison) at a stich-and-bitch, focus that energy on creating bridges in the world. Complaining to a bunch of people whose beliefs are identical to your own is the opposite of solving the problem. It only reinforces the problem. What we all need are solutions. And solutions are rarely found sitting pretty & wrapped with a bow right in your own backyard. True solutions are treasures that require getting outside your comfort zone and venturing forth on a proper hunt.
FOUR: Reach out. Conversate. Connect.
Find some people outside of your immediate circle and more “in the middle,” and Engage in sincere and authentic conversations with them about specific issues that you are passionate about. Or, given the circle model, people who are +/- 60° from your viewpoint. Avoid overt confrontation with those diametrically opposed (180°) to you, that only amplifies the anger and fuels the Cycle of Conflict (see 2. The Myth of Polarization).
FIVE: Be open to listen. Be strong to speak.
Learn & Teach. Learn how to really listen and how to respond calmly and compassionately without anger. Try to build genuine empathy for your partners position, even if you disagree with it. Have confidence in your own beliefs. Learn how to express yourself confidently and clearly. Research the facts and history of your own beliefs. Be a student, and be a teacher. Tear down walls of Ignorance and Judgement. Build bridges of Understanding and Compassion.
SIX: Convince 3 other people to vote with you.
If possible, get them on board with this program. Have each of them commit to authentic outreach and conversation, and have each of them convince 3 people to vote alongside them. And so forth.
Express your vote with confidence. You are no longer just one vote. You are a vote of a confederacy. You are a vote of an aligned community. A community that has built bridges and connections. A community of caring. Your collective vote makes a difference. Vote and Pray. Once the dust has settled, go back to Step THREE. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Enjoy the fruits of genuine, living Democracy in Action.
Make American Great Again? You bet. Just perhaps not in the way that slogan was originally conceived.
By the People, for the People.
That’s more like it.
See you at the coffee shop!