Friday, July 8, 2016

How NOT to Deal With Our Broken Society

Less than 24 hours after someone shot a dozen Dallas police officers, somebody already wants to blame the President:


"Political correctness" has become a dog whistle term - not defined so much as it is used as an identity symbol to mark the boundaries between tribes.

If you really want to resolve the issues behind the recent violence, blaming the President is a meaningless act. It will turn away millions of people whose cooperation you need to help solve the problem. It further alienates, further divides, further inflames anger and hatred. It is a pointless gesture in every way - except one.

When we are faced with difficult circumstances, it is natural to want to "circle the wagons" - to fall back within our own tribe, the people we can "really trust", and shut the rest of the world out. Gestures like this meme are designed to circle those wagons and make those on the inside feel righteous. Who cares what those outside the dome thing? We feel better, and that's what matters.

If we lived in a world of small, self-sustaining microeconomies this would be OK. But we don't - we live in a highly interconnected world where most of what we enjoy about our lives is sustained only because we can get along and cooperate with each other.

It doesn't matter what side of the issues you're on - everyone can contribute to a solution, and indeed all of us must. These are complex problems with many points of view. If you really care about making things better, don't build walls - start conversations. Find the points of common value and build on those. Assume that the people you're talking to are people, not cardboard cutouts. Remember that everyone is some mother's son or daughter.

I expect the name-calling and the shouting and the yelling will continue, of course, magnified by all of our various media streams because shouting carries the day. But shouting will not solve our problems. Only talking will. Does anybody want to talk?

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