I’ve been hoarding unread articles in my email in box. Today I cleared a bunch out (yea, me!)….in the mix was one by author Charles Eisenstein entitled “The Polarization Trap”. It’s worth a read but is the subject of my thoughts here.
Here are key points that I hear Eisenstein making….which I agree with:
1: Our polarized environment has been growing and it extends beyond simply our politics.
2: Polarization tends to break down our ability to communicate which keeps us from constructively solving the problems we face.
3: Our polarized debate on most issues gets framed around certain symptoms (and generally in a false either-or forced choice kind of way) rather than getting at root causes.
4: The fury that envelopes us debating polarizing opinions on symptoms traps us in a way that keeps us from looking at root causes where we might find much to agree upon.
Here’s a few quotes that I felt compelled to share:
” A polarized society, unable to communicate with itself, cannot do very much but ride its inertia. It cannot set its sights on a goal, imagine, or create as a collective. Every problem is too big; nothing can be solved; thus, the helplessness and malaise of society today in the face of ecological and social breakdown. “
” In a polarized environment such as a war, the pacifist is more unpopular than the enemy. The enemy is necessary to prop up one’s own identity as being on Team Good. The pacifist calls that identity into question. “
” A society at war with itself cannot move forward, just as a man at war with himself can do little to change his circumstances. The inner conflict incinerates his creative energy. Quite possibly, political polarization is the biggest impediment to social and environmental progress facing humanity today. “
Eisenstein is making points that I have made here on the “bridge” many times. A society divided upon itself cannot move forward. Most modern issues are too complex to be framed as either or questions. We must transcend our polarization if we are to move forward.
So what is the solution? Very simply stated, here are the key steps:
1: AWARENESS-Be aware of the efforts to distract us into polarizing debates on symptoms. Be aware of when we are slipping into polarized positions.
2: CHOICE-Choose to redirect conversations to root causes even if asking the difficult questions others don’t want to get into. Choose not to get caught in the blame game and creating an other as scapegoat.
3: POSITIVE PERSEVERANCE-Stay positive in the face of negativity and arguing. Continue moving towards a positive solution.
Much more could be said on those steps…..but let’s stop for now.
What do you think?