Civil Discourse – Stuff I’m Thinking About

Full Moon with Desert SilhouettesI tend to think out loud on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll ponder something and then folks will dive in. Sometimes it has to do with something specific about how community benefit organizations work. Almost always it has to do with how we can create the future we want for our world.

Because many of our blog readers are neither on Facebook or Twitter, I thought this year I would take one post per week and ponder those short ponderings out loud here.

They may be fuel for discussion. Or they may rise and fall as quietly as the moon on the desert. Either way, I hope you find something to chew on in the Stuff I’m Thinking About.

Today’s Post – Civil Discourse
Following the shooting here in Tucson, there has been an increased call for civility in public discourse. To that end and without officially being asked to do so, both parties in Congress seemed to take a more civil tone this week, which is a good start.

But can that last if current systems do not change? And if true civil dialogue requires systems change, what systems need to change – and how?

Here is what I was pondering on Twitter last week.

  1. Humans are hard-wired to respond to fear in predictable ways. That makes us easy to manipulate.
  2. Generating & maintaining fear (via airwaves or lobbyist-bought politicos) is therefore a guaranteed path to money and power.
  3. Alienating us from each other is a key ingredient in escalating fear, therefore a direct path to money and power.
  4. As the populace requests civil discourse, corporate power over both our airwaves & our elected officials simply laughs at our collective naivete.
  5. SO… is a precondition to our living well together that it be more profitable to bring us together than divide us?
  6. And if so, what might it look like if that were the case?

What do you think?

Photo Info: Desert Moon January 2011

6 Responses to Civil Discourse – Stuff I’m Thinking About

  1. I agree with your points, Hildy. Let me add a couple more. Changing discourse requires discipline. If one remains in black & white thinking, the alternative to uncivil discourse is simply being kind. I’ve struggled with this in the past, which left me open to exploitation. True civil discourse requires care and precision in speech. It’s a definite skill that incorporates mindfulness practice. When done successfully, it’s like hitting a bull’s eye and has greater impact than a thousand lazy insults.

  2. It is imperative that we realize how much more the whole is than its separate parts. Of course, it’s more profitable to all of us to bring us together: If you are sick with a vile disease and can’t get treatment, it is that much more likely that I can catch your disease. My own self interest demands compassion to heal you.

  3. “SO… is a precondition to our living well together that it be more profitable to bring us together than divide us?”

    This is a very inspirational question to consider. Thank you so much for sharing it. Perhaps the answer is yes at this stage in our evolution.

    As for the second part of the question, I’m not sure where to begin. The idealist in me believes that living positively and spreading a positive, uplifting message to those around me is the true path forward. Perhaps if there was a popular media outlet that focused only on the good in the world, and highlighted stories of people coming together, instead of the endless stream of violence and political bickering we are served up incessantly, maybe then we would start to shift. If such an outlet were to become profitable because people chose to put their attention in this area, perhaps more would follow suit? Blue sky for sure. 🙂

  4. Yes and yes to you all! It has me wondering if the kind of mindful language Diane speaks about isn’t one key to the question – especially, as both LJ and Brandon you both consider that our being together is far more powerful – the next stage in our evolution as social beings.

    Which has me wondering about what it would take for that mindfulness to be the norm rather than the exception. What would have to be in place, and where, for that shift – that cultural evolution – to take place?

    I am wondering the same about the really good point you raise, LJ, about the “profit” in our togetherness. What would it take for that to be realized – that it is actually UNprofitable to be separated?

    Given our the uber-capitalistic state of our world, what would it take for capital to shift to those areas? What needs to be in place in our culture for dividing us to be LESS profitable than uniting us?

    Still pondering, pondering, pondering…

  5. MLK was a genius at pointing out why equality was in everyone’s self interest. I think it helps to reread him from time to time, as well as read some of his friends’ writings. He was truly the King of civil discourse. Diane’s point is well taken. Nice guys often do finish last. At this point in our social evolution, enlightened self interest is probably the best means of change. With the level of greed and self interest I see flaming in our world, that’s all everybody is interested in – what’s in it for me. If Wall Street were to see a chance for profiteering in hugs, we would no doubt all be to work hugging each other.

  6. Simply focusing on the positive is not civil discourse. Too frequently it’s a form of avoiding confrontation or pain. I can delude myself that I’m the better person while secretly seething inside. That doesn’t feel whole to me. My growing edge is to articulate anger or dissatisfaction in a non-condemnatory fashion.