Yesterday one of my kids said to her friend: ""Excuse me, you interrupted me. I'd like to finish what I was saying."The friend had been talking over her, around her, up and down ignoring her, for an hour. But she responded as if my kid had no basis for irritation. She said, with a bit of an edge, "So-rry! Like if you want to say something, just go ahead and say it." Obviously that would be a difficult thing to do if you can't get a word in edgewise.It was a snippet of a conversation that had been ongoing all day. But when I thought about it a bit, it occurred to me that just in that day alone, both professionally and personally, both in real life and in the worlds of media, politics and pop culture, I could think of about half a dozen other examples of people being edged out of a conversation by skillful manipulators of body language, word tone, and the English language itself. And it occurred to me that when people are constantly talking past each other, it is very hard to have a meaningful conversation. So the problems that exist are not solved. Because the interchanges don't involve any connection at all. Instead they are like a form of warfare, designed for one party to crush the other while preserving the appearance of a real battle of ideas. Is it any wonder that our magical economy, inflated for so long by good fortune rather than actual productivity, is deflating?And that the effort to shore it up with puffy words is falling flat despite our desperate wishes to the contrary? I don't believe for one second that Americans can't compete. We absolutely can.The problem is that we've gotten used to a system where leadership means saying, in effect, "I'm right and not only are they wrong, but they don't even exist...they are crazy and nobody really agrees with them." This is the definition of a mental and social pathology. Instead of admitting that our opponents are right - about anything - we pretend that they are nuts. By manipulating words, body language, and communication itself to try and dominate the conversation and edge them out. I read something from a Jewish mystical point of view (Kabbalah) which said that the current economic crisis is really a crisis of egos stretched to the breaking point. As long as we puff our egos up and try to put others down, we aren't going to get anywhere. The real war we face is a war on poverty. We need to resolve it now. In this day and age, with all the technologies available to us and all the knowledge we can harness collectively, nobody should ever go hungry, be homeless, face life on the lawless streets, or be unable to receive basic healthcare. Until we join forces with our enemies and get our egos out of the way, the stock market is going to continue to bounce around wildly.When we wake up and get humble - when we realize that the way to advance ourselves is to help somebody else get up - that will be the day that the economy recovers. I hope that day comes soon.Have a good weekend everyone, and good luck!__Image source here
1. Work within the culture, not against it.
Right now government has a bit of a brand problem in that people think we're not only lazy, but a bit crazy as well. (Or maybe just dysfunctional.) After all a normal organization, confronted by the threat of collapse, would fight for its own survival. Whereas we seem only to eat our own.
Now obviously isn't the time for niceties so I'll just jump in here with some simple advice. Avoiding the cliches in favor of fresh thinking.