My previous post referred to Tom Atlee’s piece on “Changing the Game” of polarized politics by giving citizens established ways to talk directly to each other. In order to bridge gaps that now seem impossible to cross, there need to be extremely basic agreements on our shared goals, and how to know whose ideas are really on track for achieving those goals.
Ideally, more and more citizens will think about this type of question:
What do we all share? What is most basic to all of us?
For me, it means asking:
What do I love most?
What do I love most that is not just about me and mine, but really universal?
The simple and pretty abstract answer that popped up for me:
Truth, Beauty, and Synergy
Truth and Beauty can be thought of as highly personal and relative – until we find common ideas that are so deep that most of us can agree on them, most of the time.
Synergy is living and working together, creatively and with satisfaction. It is the magic of connecting deeply to create a greater whole, where the sum is greater than the parts.
Connecting deeply means: Transcending individual egos, and transcending group egos.
It means caring intensely about the whole, while also caring about the integrity of our individual interests.
It means unconditional love, freedom from narrow, ‘must-have’ goals, and letting go of bias.
It means suspending judgment long enough to really listen to another point of view, and to care enough about living together in the same community, and on the same planet.
Transcending our egos doesn’t mean suppressing or ignoring them. But rather, it’s about expanding our boundaries. If we really believe that from many we are One Nation, then acting like one nation doesn’t involve vilifying each other, nor only talking and not listening with openness.
Transcendence is mostly an ideal. And yet it is possible to be closer, or further, from that ideal.
How can we tell who is close and who is far, from the ideal?
There are several ways that help us shake off the well-funded exhortations of narrow interests:
- Follow the money.
- Follow the fame, that brings money and influence.
- Follow the trail of encouragements for disrespect, denigration, ridicule, arrogance, and hostility.
- Follow the trail of encouragements that separate “We the People” into “Us and Them”
Look at who is funding the research, or funding the campaign, or most actively spreading the “news” and the “evidence”. Who is actively promoting divisiveness who is also gaining the most: Extraordinary wealth, fame and influence?
Look also more closely at the arguments and at the evidence.
Are they based on reason and objectively obtained and verified evidence? Are independent and unbiased sources agreeing that the evidence is sound and conclusive? Or are the arguments and evidence we’re paying attention to coming only from sources that are supporting the same point of view?
Power to the extremes
There have been times when political Power was able to find a center much closer to the middle. It was still politics and not perfect; but it now seems a lot better than polarized paralysis.
Power in the extremes makes us collectively less and less intelligent, and unable to act effectively. But it also creates a tremendous tension that can be harnessed for good. Yet harnessing that which is powerful enough to destroy us is dangerous and daunting.
It requires restoring respect, a common sense of what it means to be objective, an understanding that ridicule and divisiveness benefit a tiny few to the loss of nearly all the rest of us.
Divisiveness is occurring in many areas of society where mixing differences can be explosive: Cultures, religions, politics. Divisiveness among we the people is most easily inflamed by special interests when too many of us are listening to only one channel (special interests are very clever at targeting their messages) and when we are afraid (when life is full of threats and losses), and by our desire to be respected and rewarded by our tribe.
In the political spectrum, there are both Progressives and Conservatives who are true to their deeper human values who do not participate in or support the spread of divisiveness, denigration, and hostility. They have different opinions, sources of information, and ideas about what is wrong and what to do. But they do not disrespect and ridicule “the other;” and they are looking for a common way forward. These are the ones who can help us harness the tension between perspectives to create real and lasting solutions.
Let us be always wary of those who are spreading divisiveness. Let us be wary of getting most of our information from a single set of channels all funded by the same agenda. Especially be wary of those who are gaining extraordinary wealth and influence by keeping “We the People” in a state of “Us and Them.”
See Tom Atlee’s post for links to ways that can help. In the Fall of 2008, Yes! Magazine also ran several related articles on “Purple America.”