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Parking Lots, COVID, & Trumpism

I drive my son to school every day. The main reason is to minimize his exposure to COVID. School buses are not conducive to minimizing COVID.

Like all schools, there is a bustle of vehicle traffic during school opening and closing. My son’s elementary school is adjacent to an unused field that will someday turn into houses. A lot of parents use that field to drop off and pick up their kids.

In this field, a dirt trail has formed where most of the traffic goes. Cars find grassy parking spots on either side of this trail. Maybe 30 cars can fit here. It is about a 25-meter walk from this parking lot to the school.

Last spring, there was an unwritten rule typical of many parking lots: the car on the trail has the right-of-way. Cars wanting to pull out onto the trail have to wait until the trail is clear. Good rule, right?

This fall, that rule seems to have disappeared. Now cars are pulling out as soon as there is any room to pull out. This means cars on the trail have to stop and wait.

I understand the reason for the hurry in the parking lot: getting out before the school buses leave eliminates that traffic snarl created by the school buses. We used to accept the snarl as part of our daily fate. If we got out early, we were grateful. If not, we had to wait for the snarl to unsnarl. 

In just a matter of the two summer months, we have a new parking lot culture. The rules for fair and efficient clearing of the parking lot have been substituted for “me first at almost any cost.” And “almost any cost” seems to be an increased risk of a fender bender. Dealing with fender benders still wastes a day of productivity even when insurance pays.

Why did this change in parking lot culture happen? We in Brooks, Alberta have gone through a little hell this last summer:

1) We had a summer that was too hot for too long.

2) COVID seemed under control in June in Alberta. By school-year start, it was out of control—and interventions were applied.

3) Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are a significant and vocal minority, using their voice to belittle those who are fighting COVID spread in these meaningful ways.

4) Trumpism and anti-Trumpism are moving north.

5) We are in a federal election campaign, with political parties swinging at each other.

All this “on-edge” stuff is making the people of Brooks, Alberta just a little bit angrier. This anger is spilling over into other aspects of our life—like school parking lots.

It’s been 24 years since I embarked on my adventure to get the world to build Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG). Not only is the TDG a new electoral structure with no political parties, it puts our representatives into a consultative framework where they can combine their knowledge, experience, and wisdom into one voice. Neat idea, eh?

I have encountered thinkers that believe this structure is not necessary. “If we only reform ourselves,” they say, “then we will reform society.” These thinkers believe that when we embark on this life journey, we will affect others enough to make a similar journey. With more people of a better psyche, we will be collectively understanding the issues better. So we vote better, and then find better politicians to govern us. In other words, there is no need to change the electoral system according to these thinkers. Just let the “reform ourselves” theory do its magic.

But the practice is different. The current democratic system is discouraging too many people from taking on any kind of life reform. The echo chambers of all political persuasions convince people that whatever they are thinking, it is correct thinking. The true problems lie with the people who think differently, right? They are the enemy, right? So, there is no need to reform ourselves.

And if we do reform ourselves to a more peaceful demeanor, we probably won’t go into the shark-infested waters of politics. So, this field gets left to those who should be working on themselves before they take on this immense responsibility. But they don’t—and they still get to run society! What has our “reform ourselves” thinking really accomplished?

So the “reform ourselves” crusade has definite limits on how it can reform the nation. When we see our politicians belittling each other, offering far too simplistic solutions to complex problems, and being caught with corrupt actions (and often getting away with it), this moves the value systems of too many citizens the wrong way. What’s the point, from a national perspective, when 10 citizens move in a good direction and 90 move in a bad direction?

I say there is a big connection between our value systems and how we are governed. We really need an electoral system that finds the better citizens to govern us. When we put these citizens into positions of authority and responsibility, they will be modeling behavior for other citizens. This is how we can convince many citizens to reform their lives.

The TDG will find those kinds of politicians.

So I invite you to read my TDG book. As you are reading, ask yourself: “What kind of politician would arise from this kind of electoral system?”

My book does take about three hours to read. But many of you will be spending three hours on Medium this week. You can afford the time to read about a new democracy that can change the world in a good way.

BTW, the book is a free read from my website. Follow my byline if you are interested.

Back to the Parking Lot

Not being a competitive person, I don’t want the school parking lot contest. I now park my car on the street, 50 meters from the school. Plus, I park in a direction that takes me away from the traffic snarl created by school buses and uptight parents looking for a trivial edge in life. My life is a little more peaceful.

But this is not a long-term solution. I am already seeing other parents also not playing the parking lot game either. I might be making a 75-meter walk soon.

With fewer parents using the informal parking lot, the aggressive drivers can now get out of the parking lot a little quicker than before. They have won the game of who gets to park close to the school.

We really need to find a better way to change hearts than wishing other people would reform themselves. I say building the TDG will change hearts. Check it out.

Published on Medium 2021

COVID & Tiered Democratic Governance

The Nation is Too Sick