The poltics taboo

by wonderfullyrich on November 26, 2008

I am in N’awlins with Angela’s father and family for thanksgiving, which is a well recieved chance to break the washington dc bubble. Everytime I leave DC for some other part of the US, the muzzle comes on. I forget how free we are in DC to talk about the congess or presidental hapenings ant the policy implications for this tactic or that strategy at a party, or with strangers.

This for me this is an open disscussion, intended as much for me to learn about alternative perspectives and synthesis rational ideas from them, as it is for me to convey my ideas and experience to others. As you can guess, I run into a taboo when I leave the district.

We need real discussion about what we believe, what we think, which means conflict, which I think is why poltics has become taboo.  Our society seems to be afraid of conflict, so we avoid it and make believe it doesn’t exist.  This doesn’t really work, but it makes people believe society works better.  The reality–I say based on studies that exist in personal relationship building, management, and conflict resolution–is that conflict is normal.  Indeed it’s positive and as my previous post points out, the root of much art, philosophy etc.

The thing is that many of the grassroots of america I have talked to, when I am able to break through the taboo, talks of similar ideas. Problems in education, to much taxes, the need for a smaller government budget, responsible politicians, ethical corporations/management, etc.

Many of the people I talk to can’t articulate a reasoned response about why they believe one canidate/party/issue is useful or useless. They don’t understand the system they live in, local, state, or federal. They watch the evening news, listen to their friends, news radio, and maybe read the local rag, but rarely do people intentionally engage in conflict.  I don’t admit to knowing what the insiders of Washington do, nor do I consider myself a well verse DC type, but when I take a jaunt into the real United States, I find myself knowing dramatically more about perspectives and ideas then normal people just being surrounding by knowledgable people.

I have a conversation with someone, and they spout something I know they got from Air America or O’Reilly and I can’t help, but be frustrated.  This is of course the time though that A. people’s skills in active listening tend to fail miserable, B. I realize my own communication skills are to poor to make useful debate points. I could just be wrong, which has crossed my mind.  What I tend to do at this points is stop trying to make a point and let them talk, but actively listen on my part.  Then ask questions, I believe they call this the Socratic method, and get them to articulate what they are thinking.  I tend to learn a lot in these exchanges, even if I feel as if the impact and idea exchange was mostly one way.

Of course these tend to be rather long bitch sessions about government, one party or another, one demographic or another, a corporation, etc.  Ironically these systems to which many have become apathetic can be changed by participation. More then that these systems directly effect the way we live our lives. So it is ironic to me when people bitch about the situations they are in.  Especially given that we can change many of these problems if we channeled our bitching into something more productive.  Even something as simple as two-way dialog rather then one-way bitching can have a noticable impact on many problems.  This is doublaly true given we have plenty of common ground, which a huge majority of american differ vastly from their leaders, and which could amplify their information level.

I used to be insensed by what I thought of as ignorance, and I’m still annoyed at it, but I find myself reminding myself often “How do you change this?” and then pushing myself to think and work on an active change strategy that is useful as opposed to bitching and dwelling on the frustration.  Action speaks louder then words as they say.  We have a long way to go before we change our taboo of conflict towards embracing it. before our populous becomes more informed.

Happy thanksgiving!

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