Community Transcends The Left/Right Divide And Starts With Seeing The Big Picture

In response to a previous post, Rick writes, “Mike, you speak of authentic community. However, let’s face it, you and I can never be part of the same community. So does that mean the majority of an authentic community get to dictate to the minority?”

The left/right chasm in this nation is perceived to be so enormous that it seems unimaginable that loyalists of the two sides could ever find consensus — unthinkable that those with opposite views could ever join together as an authentic community. But, it seems to me, if we could see the big picture, we would become united.

Jonathan Schell, author of “The Fate of The Earth,” in this you-tube describes the big picture. He states simply and forcefully, what in my own gut I know is true: “If we don’t get together and solve our problems, we’ll all die.”

That’s the big picture we need to see.

In an Amazon review of Schell’s latest book, “The Seventh Decade — The New Shape of Nuclear Danger,” a reviewer says: “This book is composed in a style of high responsibility, as if our lives were dependent upon the success of Schell’s arguments, which in a sense they are.”

It is a sense of “high responsibility” that inspires civic action. When citizens need to respond to an emergency, for example, to protect their neighborhood from rising flood waters, they work together in community. They have a sense of “high responsibility.” If circumstances put us together, I’m sure Rick and I could easily be part of such a community and successfully work together.

Creating community requires a uniting and compelling consensus of purpose — like the desire for survival.  The problem is, we don’t see the big picture — “If we don’t get together and solve our problems, we’ll all die” — and, we don’t believe dire predictions are true.

A lot of money and effort goes into keeping us ignorant of our high responsibility — uninformed and uninvolved.  Americans know all about the issues concerning “America’s Got Talent,” or the personalities on “Dancing With the Stars,” but have great ignorance about their own government or world politics. (See: “Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter.”)

Bill Moyers makes the point that our whole political process is under control of a plutocracy who seek to maintain the status quo.  The oligarchy is all about using our political system to divide and conquer.  If the oligarchy saw advantage in developing an informed and engaged citizenry, I’m sure we soon would have a sea change in the quality and quantity of our civic discourse and that 80% of Americans would be voting on a regular basis.

Every answer to meeting the challenges of the future starts with the notion that we must transcend differences — including left / right dichotomies — and we must create authentic community centered on problem solving.  The premise behind the book I am determined to write:  “Kettering Public Education In The Year 2022,” is that the key to public education transformation is through democracy.  The premise is that a democratic movement in Kettering leads to the formation of an authentic Kettering community dedicated to transforming their community’s system of public education.

We need to see the big picture and part of the challenge to accomplish the needed transformation in public education is to somehow communicate the big picture concerning public education to the general public as a means to motivate interest.

The foundation for transforming our political system, similarly, is to somehow to focus on the big picture.  In the big picture, the issue is that our democracy is going down the drain. As with rising flood waters, this is an issue of survival. The on-going deterioration of our democracy is the source of all of our disasters.

Seeing the big picture I believe, should be the motivation for creating new and effective communities that can respond. The left/right divide that Rick points to as destructive to community, I believe, as seen from a bigger perspective, is insignificant, and becomes ever more insignificant in authentic communities.

I’m reminded of these previous posts:

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6 Responses to Community Transcends The Left/Right Divide And Starts With Seeing The Big Picture

  1. Eric says:

    A lot of money and effort goes into keeping us ignorant of our high responsibility

    So should teachers quit paying dues to their unions? Should we close teacher preparation programs that don’t prepare teachers to combat ignorance?

    My view of authentic community includes public school leveraging deliberation materials from the Kettering Foundation. How do those materials figure into your view of community and the Kettering school district?

  2. Mike Bock says:

    Eric, I’ve read one Kettering publication –“Too Many Children Left Behind: How Can We Close the Achievement Gap?” — and I plan to read more. My response: Let’s Frame the question of “Achievement Gap” To Include All Schools and All Students

    The one publication I did study seems to suggest that the Kettering materials are not appropriate for the task as I am defining it. The publication seems based on the premise that the structure of the current system basically is OK, — but, the POV I feel needs to be considered is that the current system is in need of fundamental restructuring. Also, the publication I cite seems satisfied with evaluating schools and educational programs using current testing criteria and seems to rely on an aim and purpose of education that suggests nothing new. The POV I feel needs to be considered is that public education is in need of a different view of aim and that public education needs a system designed to achieve its defined aim.

    If the Kettering community could democratically develop and implement a long term plan for a transformation of its system of public education, then, for the benefit of other communities, the Kettering Foundation could develop a whole new set of materials explaining such a miracle

  3. Eric says:

    Looks like my last comment was thrown away; Now I have to provide some verbiage so the link I want to provide is not rejected as a duplicate post.

    Here’s the link; perhaps third try is the charm: Framing Issues for Public Deliberation

  4. Stan Hirtle says:

    Eric’s link didn’t work for me.

  5. Rick says:

    Thomas Sowell wrote a book in the early 90s called “A Conflict of Visions.” This book demonstrates how people view the nature of man (is or is not man perfectible by his own efforts?, institutions (should private public institutions be respected and allowed to evolve organically or forced to change quickly according to the dictates of the elite?)

    While Sowell is a conservative, he tries, and I think, succeeds in being politically neutral. Both left and right can read this and have a better understanding of, “Why do they think like that?”

    So, no, Mike, we might agree on some things, but in the end of visions conflict.

  6. Stan Hirtle says:

    Is man perfectible by his own efforts? We aren’t really close enough to tell. It certainly isn’t happening any time soon.

    Should “private public institutions be respected and allowed to evolve organically, or forced to change quickly according to the dictates of the elite?” A somewhat loaded question, but it seems they, whatever they are, will get the respect they deserve based on the amount of good and or harm they are doing. Since the elite are usually connected with the most powerful private public institutions, their dictates are pretty much inseparable from the institutions unless we are as usual talking about conflicts between the elite (think health care reform). If the mortgage market is an example of a private public institution that evolved, it evolved organically into a disaster by having perverse incentives (get rich making or marketing bad mortgages with no accountability).

    If the two questions are connected in a philosophical or theological way, I would expect imperfectible people to create imperfect public private institutions, and if they are based upon people’s worse characteristics, like greed, the institutions are even more likely to be harmful. Conservatives like Sowell often think that people are inherently imperfectible but they are usually arguing with Marx, and may think differently as to whether a corporate capitalist system is perfectible. Or they may believe in invisible hands capable of making gold out of straw.

    In connection with this question, democracies made by imperfect people are likely to get imperfect results, as are private public institutions. It can matter how things are organized whether good or bad results happen more often. Or it may matter who you think the elite should be and how you tell.

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