Poor title for this, but I’m rambling, so good as it gets.
I follow No Labels, https://www.facebook.com/NoLabels?fref=ts, on Facebook in my personal life. I like the concept, but I’m not sure that this is anything more than good intentions. 1) Does this cause/movement have significance and purpose that can make a difference? 2) Does this idea have unintended consequences that will be harmful in the long run?
Firstly, I must say that the people who comment on many of the posts are quite negative and lack thought and purpose. Some of the people express that they wish things were better, but do not have the least amount of hope in their expressions. Very few people provide comments with substance and constructive input. It is almost as if No Labels is speaking to the void, empty space. Perhaps they are reaching people who do not comment on Facebook and are passive consumers of content? I don’t know, but it seems to me if you have a Facebook presence, you should attend to it rather than simply blast out information without any monitor or response. To some degree we all have to tolerate “flaming” of posts, that is one of the less attractive freedoms of the media. However, one should support and stand up for their position, not simply allow people to blather without commentary. Also, it should not be the mission of the community at large to stand up for a cause where they do not have a real dog in the fight. It is good to support a cause, but a different thing entirely to “like” it and put your insignificant two-cents in with the rest of the noise. Personally, I don’t see the point of making “social” presence if you don’t have a face/name/person/persona/group/committee/chair/etc. to champion the cause. To me that is like being lazy and disorganized. Sure, I’m not one to talk as I have no foot to stand on in that arena, but I’m not an organization. I’m just a person of some intellect, if not a modicum of modesty. I know a fraud as I am a fraud (I would argue you are a fraud, too, but that is a deep philosophical can that I do not wish to unearth at the moment). Let’s consider what an organization should do and should stand for based on its claims.
Can No Labels truly stand for its mission if it cannot attend to the public it desires to serve? Let’s define the bounds here first. Facebook is not the end-all-be-all of anyone’s mission. However, I’d like to point out that my personal, favorite candidate for 2016 is Ben Carson. He is personally attending to social media. This is almost something never heard of and very welcome from my perspective. Is it too much for an organization to have people to personally deal with and attend to comments in the real-world, live medium? Sure you don’t want to go down every rabbit trail that random people will take you on, but there should be something more than just “news” from your organization’s perspective.
I paint a very fine point on being present instead of a presence. The real point I’d like to deal with is the greater good. Like or dislike No Labels or any other well-meaning organization. What difference does it and its supporters make? Taking a philosophical leap, I assert that there is such a thing as good and evil. If you prefer the terms right vs. wrong, or helpful vs. hurtful, etc. However you define it or construct it in your own mind, there are differences in outcomes. While I’m making assertions let’s look at a quadrant:
Assuming you can see and make heads or tails of my picture, what conclusion can we draw? Is it possible that we live in the yellow zone (top right) far too often? To paraphrase Robert Burns, “the best laid schemes of mice and men….” Is there some certainty or guarantee that any of us can make or find or apply something to ensure that we have a group of people with good intentions and avoid all actions, decisions, and missteps that lead to a bad outcome? I seriously doubt that any of us can make that guarantee, but there are some things, some considerations that can help avoid negative outcomes.
We can step away from the spiritual realm, but I choose not to do so. I have been taught and do not feel in the least bit deluded, coerced, beguiled, or hornswoggled, into a mindless attachment to Christianity as a crutch or “good if it works for you” type of construct. I have been taught and observe in my own way, the impact of God within human plans and outcomes. Quite frequently people attribute success, winning, victory, and “good” outcomes due to the power of harmony with God and His commands, precepts, thoughts, and desires. In some ways, if you do A, then B will result. It is not that cut and dry, but it is a general axiom. So with right on your side, you can, avert plans for evil. That does not come at a place of self-righteousness, holier-than-thou, I-know-more-than-you-do positions. It comes from humility, obedience, self-sacrifice, and lowliness before Almighty God. It comes from a position of internal weakness and dependence rather than an internal/external strength and independence. It is counter-intuitive. For reference, see the passages in the Bible surrounding Joshua and the walls of Jericho. However, since the vast majority of people come at this from a totally different perspective, let’s take it from an alternate stance.
In America, since that is where I live, what I know best, and feel the most impacted by and most able to even, slightly, influence. In our country, we have the situation of two major parties that drive the bulk of decisions leading federal outcomes for the vast majority of citizens. There is this constant tension between the parties and great swaths of decisions are implemented without full consent of anyone and with little scrutiny given or allowed to exist. I will not go so far as to blame this system or any of the parties or individuals. It would seem to me that this is the best system in the world as far as world systems go. The missing pieces of this puzzle are some constructs in place farther back in our history that have eroded over time. In some ways we are better off as a nation and as individuals. One such example is abolition of slavery. However, there is a lot more that falls into the “non-green (–anything other than the left–positionally, not ideologically)” quadrants of the picture. One troubling fact to me is that we have come to the custom of passing grand, encompassing, legislation. There are more riders on these than the busiest train. When people are for or against a bill like ACA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act), there is so much that was never intended nor understood by anyone. (I am not going to defend any position on this particular bill here, it is for illustration purposes only.) If we improve something, what logic or reason, establishes that it must not be in plain language, it must be extremely large and complex, and that it can, and I argue, must contain things unintended, unsupported, unpopular, incorrect, unattainable, and deeply problematic. I would ascribe that much of our laws in the form of legislation pushed through the system are in legalese and jargon, but that would be imprecise and understated. Even lawyers cannot agree on this stuff. It is written and pushed through in such a way that it cannot be enforced, it cannot do the good, in part or in full, it intends to do, and ultimately it will not only fail to meet its greatest potential, but it will clearly miss the mark and cause unintended consequences that will not be manifested until very late and then will be way beyond repair. I do not make this statement of opinion to say that the entire batch is rotten, but only to state that enough bad apples, long enough ruins the whole bunch. In the balance of things, it can do far much more harm than good. Again this is to say, that the passers of the bill(s) had good intentions and honestly, sincerely, determined that this was right and good and true. Which is great if one reads it before one passes it rather than pass it to see if it’s good (does that even sound like any form of wisdom?). I poke fun at one pundit here, but only very slightly. I can only go back as I have in my working career and say, “the emperor’s new clothes” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes). As I present the story of my recollection, as I place my interpretation, people are unwilling (unable) to point out the flaws because they are too concerned about other issues besides the central issues. In other words the people who support the bill and the bill itself are the “emporer” where the “man is naked”, but the “people complement him on his beautiful new clothes”. They are too fearful that they will be found out as frauds, that their baby will be rejected, and that they might not have all the information and understanding they should, in other words, their ego is mainly at stake. They are too caught up in the fervor of emotion and cheer-leading, that they lose sight of their solemn responsibility, as doctors should (in my opinion) also take on in “first do no harm”. It is not that everyone is blinded and sheep-like, but groupthink can sweep over a crowd very quickly and overcome reason.
The challenge in this assertion (and knowledge if you follow the assumptions so far), is: what is the alternative? Do not get me wrong. Though I consider myself conservative-leaning and I have chosen a liberal/progressive bill as an example, the other “side” has done great and destructive things as much or more. I support the better, truer, more self-sacrificial parts of conservatism, not the hodge-podge of right-wing and hell-bent self-service. I also support the better parts of liberalism that can be reasoned to improve upon our lives. Part of that challenge we set out to tackle, is that we all must “come more central”. I mean to put this in a different context than what is meant by news correspondents and pundits. The term compromise is bandied about without anyone significantly defining and limiting its meaning. What I mean is an opportunity to find common ground. It does not mean: sacrifice principle or give into someone else’s demands. It does mean a willingness to hear the other side out and find the nuggets, the tenets, that are couched in sanity, reason, and good faith. It means agreeing to see each other’s points of view and seeing the merits. It means the logic of “and” rather than “or”. By that I mean, this plus that add together to make a better way, not this to the exclusion of that; meaning somebody “wins” and somebody “loses”. As Steven Covey principled: win-win (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People). When we go for win-lose or accept lose-lose we end up on the yellow and red side of the picture (right column of my illustration). Win-Win is going to bring us more frequently to the top green quadrant. (Yes, even I will admit, must concede, that it will inevitably be mixed with more than generous helpings of the other colors/side.) I propose that we must have people in Congress who understand this distinction. Nay, they champion this distinction. There have to be heroes and heroines who confront the status quo and charge fearlessly into hearing first to understand and driving home the best objectives of all the personalities involved. This can happen two ways that I can imagine: 1) simply hoping for people like this–happenstance, or even with some people pushing for it to happen (“No Labels”?) or 2) establishing rules, guidelines, processes, procedures, committees, chairs, or what have you, to ensure that this at is the forefront of any discussions, panels, text, or subcommittees, etc. that find their way into the chambers. I propose that this cannot be something that is guaranteed to work and have to presume that some people will simply go through the motions. There is no quick fix. There is no silver bullet. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, if this fundamental assertion is repeated for every bill at the outset and conclusion, there may be better outcomes realized. Sure, human nature has a way of eliminating reason and rationality, but a constant reminder, a gentle nudge, a concept well-conveyed, should not be harmful, in my estimation.
In conclusion, for those skipping ahead, we need a tweak to our government, a “hack” in modern terminology of the second decade of the 21st century, to bring about real cooperation, that is the best of compromise of positions, not compromise of core values. This move can make all the difference–if anyone believes in it.