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Fight, Fight, & Fight Some More

I’m going to give some credit to a Trump video. For the impeachment hearing in the Senate, his defense team put together a masterful collage of Democrats—in a public setting—using the word “fight” over and over and over again. I believe the team’s goal was to “prove” that such rhetoric is part of normal politics and Mr. Trump was only playing the same game as the Democrats. A clever spin indeed, but there is something else in that message, which triggered this essay.

Let’s ask ourselves: “Why are we fighting so much? Is there not something seriously wrong with democracy with all this fighting?”

What would we call a family that is always fighting? Maybe “dysfunctional”? What happens to kids growing up in this environment?

What would we call a professional hockey team with lots of infighting between coaches, players, management, and their fan base? We would not call them contenders for the Stanley Cup.

What about a business, big or small, with as much infighting as our political world? The business’s competitors would eventually reap the rewards.

Or how about our emergency wards? If doctors, nurses, and hospital managers were publicly disagreeing on how emergency wards should be run, we would probably take our medical emergencies elsewhere.

For two years, I worked for a grocery store. I found it amazing that 30 ordinary workers, with all sorts of flaws, faults, and foibles, managed to move about $50,000 of food a day from the back room to the shelves and then through the tills to earn a little margin for the store. And people were employed; households efficiently got their food. Just imagine our grocery stores if their workers emulated the behavior of our politicians? Produce section blaming the bakery? Meat sabotaging the confection aisle? Hmmm.

It seems strange that so much of our civilization is based on teamwork. Yet our political world eschews this teamwork. In fact, we—the voters—often cast our vote toward those overly ambitious people who say they are going to fight for us. In other words, we voters encourage the politicians to fight!

And should we not be surprised that if one side decides to fight, the other side needs to fight a little harder?

Would government not work much better if there was not so much fighting?

And how does this fighting in government affect the psyche of other aspects of our civilized life?

I do have a solution for this challenge.

To start, we need to get rid of the usual left/right, liberal/conservative, socialist/capitalist paradigms that divide us. They only serve to satisfy our egos that we are smart, and the other side are fools who know nothing. Our knowledge, experience, and wisdom are superior to those who disagree with us, right?

There really is no ‘ism that is going to save us from societal collapse. There really is no ‘ology that is going to make us better than we are. We have to stop thinking so simplistically.

There really is no political messiah with all the right answers. We have to stop believing so silly.

And there is no accountability when we overlook the actions of an elected official just because we are wearing the same sweaters. We have to stop being so partisan.

Rather, I offer these four guidelines for a new democratic approach:

1. There are societal situations where it is best to leave citizens with their own choices and live with the consequences of those choices.

2. There are societal situations where we need to take collective action to better society.

3. The difference between #1 and #2 shall be determined with due democratic process. Alternatives must be freely discussed and challenged. Rather than championing a particular alternative, decision makers should work to better all alternatives as new perspectives come into play. Eventually they will find the alternative that rises above the rest and can reach a unified decision. If not, they can take a vote, and the minority steps aside for the majority to implement the decision.

4. Regardless of how well thought out a decision has been made, that decision—even made by the smartest people working in unity—is not perfect. So all decisions still need to be monitored. Is the decision delivering on its objectives? Are there ramifications that were not anticipated? If changes are needed, modify the decision. If the decision needs to be repealed, repeal it. There should be no retribution for a decision that had been created with Principle #3—even if the decision did not work out that well. Any bad decision is a learning experience for the next decision.

If these four principles are employed, there really is no need for fighting, is there? In other words, if we have no ‘ism or ‘ology to do our thinking for us and embark on each societal challenge with an open mind, fighting will not be the way to reach solution.

The video made the word “fight” sound really silly. Maybe this is the best lesson from the impeachment hearings. And we got this lesson from our opponent who is fighting us.

Published on Medium 2021

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