For Your Early Soul Food Pleasure This Week:
The Price of a Closed Mind: From my friend Will Marre presenting a 30 minute webinar on Sept 13th
What if the opposite of what you believe is also true? That’s a disturbing thought.
Sometimes, when I am teaching a group of leaders how to solve a controversial problem, I ask them “How fast are we moving? Yes, right now in this room.” After a few looks someone says, “We’re not moving at all.” To which I reply, “You are absolutely correct!” Then I repeat the question: “How fast are we moving?” Sometimes I exhort them, “Think.” Occasionally, someone will say, “Well, we are moving around the sun at thousands of miles an hour.” Then I exclaim, “You are absolutely both right. We are all moving at roughly 67,000 miles an hour and we are absolutely still all at the same time.” Once you start looking, it turns out reality is closer to the truth that two opposites are true at exactly the same time.
For instance, do you love your family and yet experience times when you can’t stand to be around them? Do you love your job, and does it make you stressed out, often in the same day?
Reality is messy.
We ignore the messiness of reality at our own peril. Today, we are in a dangerous political season. Politicians and their communication machines are trying to appeal to our fear-sensitive, non-rational brains. That means creating demons, enemies, and simplistic “either-or” solutions to complex problems, are the tactics of the day. But this is not what we need. We cannot thrive with simplistic, my-way-or-the-highway, right-or-left solutions. Today, more than ever, we need high-center thinking that allows us to deal with complexity and reality. It all starts with our unexamined first assumptions. Some people fundamentally believe that society should try to reduce avoidable suffering. This idea is based on “civic virtue,” which promotes efforts to reduce or eliminate the suffering brought on by being born in poverty, old-age illness, structural unemployment, exploitive wages, unsafe working conditions, pollution, and unsafe products. Much of this effort is labeled social justice. Sounds good. Except that it’s expensive and often creates both dependency and entitlement, which makes people weak and irresponsible. It does, in fact, seem to be true that when we continually support people financially without them earning their way, it makes them insecure, ungrateful, and demanding. That’s true with trust fund babies as much as it is with chronic welfare recipients.
On the other side is the belief that we live in a “just” world and that, for the most part, everyone gets what they deserve. In the view of radical conservatism, hard work and gumption will overcome any disadvantage of birth. In this view, the role of society is mostly legal. Protecting property rights and personal rights of individual autonomy is the only proper role of government. Under this way of thinking, personal virtue is a choice, and forcing us to participate in civic virtue through laws, regulations, or taxation should be out of bounds. So who’s right and who’s wrong?
The truth is messy.
It’s messy because both positions have merit. Yet there is no evidence that a large-scale, unregulated society can function. Every person for himself is not really a society. So the personal responsibility position is more a theory than a solution. On the other hand, there is evidence that it’s difficult to make social democracies thrive because entitled voters make government bankruptcies likely. But there are answers. They are found by focusing on the best evidence of what promotes both personal responsibility and civic virtue. This is indeed possible. I have frequently referred to work of Nobel Prize-winning economist, John Nash, who mathematically proved that the best society for all is also the one that is the best for each individual. Societies that perpetuate wild extremes of education, opportunity, and income are inherently unstable human systems. These systems always lead to revolution. Much economic and social research has been done on what creates the best society for the most people. It is five essential strengths.
1. Free universal education of equal quality
2. Virtually free access to not-for-profit healthcare
3. Up to date physical and digital infrastructure
4. Reasonable access to capital to start new business
(By the way, none of these 4 things need to be provided directly by the government. Only number 5 does.)
5. Personal safety, security, and equal protection under the law
So how do you think our nation is doing at providing those 5 things? Perhaps the reason we may have trouble providing the five essential strengths is that we are arguing over whether government or private enterprise ought to be providing those services. But what if we could invent new institutions to solve these problems? High-quality universal education, health care, and public infrastructure might all be better provided through non-governmental, citizen-led, nonprofit enterprise. There are now many examples of large-scale social enterprises that are economically self-sufficient and magnificently effective. As far as banks go, we already have the model of depositor-owned credit unions, whose large-scale growth could be fostered by lifting regulations promoted by the big commercial banks to limit competition. So what’s all this got to do with you? First of all, we are in a political season where we as citizens need to flex our combined muscles to create a barrage of demands for rational wisdom and innovative solutions rather than emotional argument. Second, the victory of rational wisdom is a long-term generational journey, so we need to do all that we can to make our lives thrive, no matter how irrational public debate might be. We cannot be paralyzed into silence by the loud voices of special interests. What we can do is stand for wisdom, in every conversation and every personal decision. What we can do is remain focused on the quality of our lives, of our families, and of our circles of influence. What we must do is not give in or give up.
Third, free yourself from either-or thinking. Free yourself from your inner, insistent bully. Free yourself from being controlled by either-or thinkers in your workplace or bullies in your life. Don’t be afraid to consider evidence contrary to your present assumptions. The two keys to enduring happiness are an open mind and a loving heart. Turn up the volume on both. On September 13th, I’ll be presenting a new, 30-minute webinar titled “Free Yourself.” It’s an action plan that will help you take control of your work-life harmony and your future, no matter what your life circumstances are. I am very excited to share it with you. If you have any questions, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Visit http://www.ThoughtRocketTraining.com/free-yourself for more information…
The news is all abuzz with respect to education nowadays… So how are we doing with respect to learning outcomes? Does the value of education come from the actual learning or from the prestige of the institution?
Check out The Rise of the Phoenix: For-Profit Universities Like the University of Phoenix Are Shaking Up the Status Quo and Reshaping the Future of Higher Education.
For-profit colleges have deep roots in American history, but until recently they were a tiny part of the higher education landscape. Now they are big players. More than one in 10 college students attends a for-profit. The rapid rise of these career-oriented schools has provoked heated debate, opening up new conversations about the costs, quality and purpose of higher education. In this documentary, correspondent Emily Hanford examines the history and influence of the University of Phoenix, one of the nation’s largest colleges, and explores how Phoenix and other for-profits are shaping the future of higher education.
(You can also listen to the program at this site or podcast it to your mobile device)
The Relationship between Money and Happiness
Telling it like it is at a Provoking Commencement Speech at Brandeis University…
The One Good Thing
Finally, Global Citizenry & 25 Things You Might Not Know About Countries Around the World
I found out about 19 and 6 on my recent holiday… Click here!
Thanks this week go to Will, Larry and Chris
Pay it forward!