Thursday, December 04, 2003

More personal, more political

Steve at EdgeWyse has an excellent and thought-provoking response to "The Personal and the Political."

Mostly, Steve is taking the conversation in the direction I hoped to go, which is: OK, I was speaking more or less from the gut, from my instinct and experience, but where do we go from there? Do we just toss up our hands and fight? Or do we keep finding ways to reopen the dialogue?

I'm with Steve: We need to find a way to converse. And the means for grappling with the problem are known to us:
The socially corrosive effects of a bitterly partisan polarization of the population are well studied and understood, as are those structural systems that either encourage or discourage such polarization (see Lijphart's "Patterns of Democracy"). Scienfific techniques such as Linguist George Lakoff's "Framing" can be applied to good effect on the populace at large by dissenting groups and individuals. Further, once we get past this period we can take corrective action to prevent the reoccurence such as better financed independent media (NPR+PBS) and electoral reforms such as Instant Run-off Voting or Proportional (aka Full) Representation that encourage cooperating coalitions rather than bitter partisan dichotomies (see again Lijphart or

Similarly, in individual relationships, neurological and cognitive studies have empirically revealed ways that hatred can be prevented or eliminated in the same way that phobias can be successfully treated as diseases (see pulitzer prize winning science journalist Rush Dozier Jr.'s "Why We Hate"). Although somewhat less rigorously empirically verified, other techniques such as Marshall Rosenberg's "Nonviolent Communication Techniques" are more easily, universally applicable and comprehensive.

The rest of the post explores some further ideas that may help along the way. Read it. I'll be adding my two cents shortly.

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