One year ago…
Joe Biden was announced to have won the U.S. Presidency Nov. 7, 2021. Election Day was actually Nov. 3. You know how these things work in the U.S. The false narrative will remain forever, that the election was stolen….
Millions of words have been shed before and after Nov. 3, 2020, and it appears they will continue.
To my knowledge, there has never been a post-election year like the last twelve months. This is not good news. So be it.
How do we move forward? How do we deal with what is past? There are endless opinions.
I can only speak for myself. Truth be told, I write these pieces for myself, first, trying to clarify where I stand, personally. How to be, in these crazy times?
Most of my career, perhaps my entire life, my orientation has been towards resolving conflict. This makes me part of the American “tribe” I label the “We’s”. The opposing tribe, which I call the “Me’s” has difficulty framing things as issues to be resolved, rather winning and dominance is the sole objective. Resolution – compromise – is to be weak. Of course, within the “we’s” there is the same problem. We all have our number one priority, and a “we” with an unnegotiable top priority is as difficult to deal with as a “me”. We hear about all of these every day in the news spin of our choice, wherever we seek news. In my opinion, we cannot survive this absurd division. I have in front of me as I type plenty of the most recent ‘evidence’. So what? On we go.
We each have to approach this huge problem in our own ways. I try to do this in these periodic postings. Following I offer a couple of recent ideas from others to at least consider, and to keep exploring others.
If we can’t learn to work together to resolve issues, we are all part of a vanishing experiment called democracy. There are infinite “yah buts”, but none of those will ultimately matter if we don’t get a grip.
For starters, here are those couple of ideas just picked up by keeping moving in life. We all come across things like these in abundance, we just need to notice and pay attention.
Sunday I went to Church as usual.
The weekly Basilica newsletter offered a few ideas, open to everyone. You can read Ben Caduff’s column here: Basilica Ben Caduff Nov 7 2021.
Sunday’s Gospel (I’ve added it within page 2 of the above) was the well-known parable about the widow’s mite. As Sunday’s celebrant/homilist framed the text, the widow was probably a beggar – there was not much of a safety net back then. Her tiny offering at the Temple shamed that of the rich. She was the hero of the story, her sacrifice recognized. As I heard the message, Jesus elevated the status of the “ignored or disdained” (the homilists words) of his day, such as the beggar woman. The advice to we in the pews was to use more “words of gentle encouragement”, and less of “disdain”. The Priest, an elderly hero of mine, is no pushover. He’s fully capable of standing his ground. But he’s had years and years of experience of dealing with assorted non-negotiables and difficult problems in his work: lots of practice in the field, so to speak. The word “relationships” comes to mind. The quoted words are his; the rest is my interpretation.
(it is, of course, a very short leap to attach labels to the widow and the rich who don’t talk in terms of “mites”. “Widow” might be a synonym for loser, socialist, ‘taker’, etc; “rich”, a deserving, capitalist, ‘maker’…. These days of instant and graphic communication and division, most political time and money is invested in building contrasts – “freedom” (them interfering with us), rather than community (we working together). Actually, in my opinion, this describes pretty well the attitude sets of today’s two major tribal parties.)
I also keep thinking back to the post I did last Saturday, titled “L6“. I intentionally didn’t expand on what L6 meant – encouraging people to actually read the book for the answer.
Well, I don’t know who will read, or has read, “Premonition” by Michael Lewis, though it is excellent primer on the history of one of the great catastrophes of American history.
Still “teasing” you: “L6” came, in the book, as a chapter heading, via a California technology entrepreneur who served as Governor Gavin Newsom’s economic advisor. He was a man who “had created three different billion-dollar health care technology companies. and then went on to serve for three years under President Obama as the country’s chief technology officer.” (p. 229).
L6 ultimately identified by the entrepreneur with the key to contend with the pandemic was someone whose only paper qualification had been as an obscure county health officer. (There’s lots in the book about this person, but you have to read the book to learn more.)
I maintain there is a latent L6 in all of us. “L6”, as I understand it, is someone 6 (or so) levels down from the top. The person is usually some obscure, unpublicized and unnoticed worker who not only has a great idea, but the courage and passion to pursue it against all odds, and the patience to stick with it in obscurity. Having already succeeded is not a criteria. As the entrepreneur described the person needed to help solve the huge problem of the pandemic: “we need the most kick-ass public health guru…” And they found that person, L6.
A person had finally been noticed who fit the bill. (Doubtless there were others, too – but this is the example hi-lited.)
It will not be easy to get L6 out of my mind. I thought to myself, was I ever an L6? Actually, possibly, maybe on more than one occasion, but it won’t be written down or recorded anywhere. Someone further up the food chain got the credit, but perhaps I helped nudge one or two things along.
The ball started to roll.
There are millions of us like this.
An individual cannot change society all by him or herself, but it needs to start with someone, and this can easily be someone not handicapped by all of the problems that go with being in power.
Where do you fit in? What is your story?
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