After a career in criminal and civil investigations, mediation and various levels of “keeping the peace,” or at least trying to, I have come to believe that too few of us enter “adulthood” with either the objectivity or good will needed to first identify commonalities instead of differences as we engage our fellow human beings – whatever their gender, ethnicity, faith, culture or politics. We look with disdain and disgust on those in the world who kidnap, ransom or even behead their political enemies. Yet, in America, political and ideological opponents attack one another with a similar zeal that falls just short of this violence found in other parts of the world. Are we really that much more “civilized” because our “Rule of Law” enables us to attack one another through attorneys and/or the various media? As implied by that cover on Time magazine preceding our last presidential election, “fact-checking” has become intertwined with personal and political biases and spin – and, sadly, has become a significant money-making industry in our society.
Our legal system is built upon an adversarial process for resolving disputes. Like many of the tribal cultures we strive to understand, our own criminal justice system is generally retributive, not restorative. Our media thrives on the most extreme, outrageous, and bloody – or, failing to find that on a slow news cycle, they focus on victims and underdogs, real or perceived. And don’t even get me started on “Heroes,” one of the most overused and misused words in the English language.. Pundits and talking heads model shouting matches with little or no effort towards compromise and solutions. Politicians’ rhetoric is theater as they pander to their increasingly extreme party bases, both “Left” and “Right,” as well as the related special interests. They create their “straw men,” perpetuating misinformation and disinformation, and exploit the subsequent misunderstanding, misperceptions and fear for the sake of attracting financial support and/or votes. Political campaigns are increasingly comparable to open warfare – without the blood, at least in America. Well, at least that should make us proud…
Thus, the goal of bringing focus to America’s struggle, with our identity and our values, is to increasingly engage in the sharing of ideas and resources that might one day turn the tide on the divisive rhetoric of the day that leads to fear, hatred and conflict. By connecting like-minded individuals who find themselves in the middle of two or more extremes, we just might elevate the dialogue, constructively confront the issues of the day, and, ultimately, open some previously closed minds to the experiences and perspectives of others. This is not a “World Peace” initiative. Sadly, that is an unattainable ideal state that will continue to elude the human condition. Rather, we hope to change the tone and approach to human interaction, focusing first on shared values and common interests as we then strive to identify solutions and collaborate towards achieving higher levels of safety, security, and quality of life around the globe.
Join the conversation. Let’s see where it takes us – individually and collectively, as realistic “Idealists,” or idealistic “Realists,” intent upon making a positive difference in a very complex and troubled world.