In our local community, as in many others, there is active and often acrimonious debate about zoning. While everyone agrees that there is a severe shortage of available and affordable housing and that increasing the housing stock is essential, not everyone agrees that new housing should be created in the neighborhood where they live.
For content related to politics
From a historical perspective, a broadly empowered citizenry has never been a feature of America. It was not part of our Founding, which reserved power to educated, wealthy, white males. It wasn't until the 19th Amendment in 1920 that women could vote. Although the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments after the Civil War abolished slavery, guaranteed all citizens equal rights under the law (excepting Native Americans), and prevented abridging the right to vote, it wasn't until the Civil Rights Act of 1965 that these principles were enforced in any consistent or meaningful way.
Have a pleasant conversation.
Ask, don't tell.
Listen to learn.
Stories and ideas, not facts.
I'm a Hannah Arendt fan. She often took two words that were often used as synonyms, identified a difference, and then found meaning in that difference. For example, consider the words action and behavior:
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across multiple spheres of American society is a novel event. Some have used the term black swan, Taleb's term for an event that can't be anticipated because it is outside the realm of experience. I prefer to think of it as a gray rhino, Michele Wucker's term for the big and obvious thing coming at you that you don't want to acknowledge. I think of this as a threat to our society writ large, not just as a threat to our economy or even just to public health. I think those narrow framings guarantee inadequate analysis and response.
As the severity of the novel coronavirus becomes obvious to more and more people, and as they begin to grasp the depth and duration of the changes in daily life that will be required of all of us, it is worth thinking about the need to protect and strengthen the social fabric on which we all depend. In fact, the changes are likely to be so profound that they provide an opportunity for a 'reboot' into a new 'operating system' better designed for our future than our past.
This snippet nicely expresses what I hope anchors our core values going forward:
My family, friends, and colleagues know I speak out or act up when I see something I think is wrong. When asked why, my usual answer is that I was raised to examine and question things, to seek information, to make up my own mind, and to always behave in a way that is true to my values.
This explanation is true but incomplete, as it fails to convey my belief that silence is a form of acceptance and can be tantamount to endorsement. I offer an anecdote from my childhood as an illustration of what I mean.
We Americans like to think (and boast) about our great experiment in Democracy: that we are a nation founded on the principle so famously expressed by Thomas Jefferson that all are created equal and endowed by God from birth with an unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As they say these days: not so much.