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THE DANCING ELITES
Imagine that we are pulling away the curtain to see politics as it really is. But first, we should understand more clearly why this is important.
WE ARE SMOTHERING IN OUR BUBBLES
Most of us now live in protected, self selected bubbles defined by a robust political and social mono-culture that excludes and derides all those other people, you know who – the ones with the wrong ideas, who are “less evolved” or “more decadent” – fill in the blanks, it depends on whose bubble we’re talking about.
This state of affairs is a result of our mobility and the natural desire to live near and work with people who think like we do. We’ve created bubble neighborhoods, bubble towns, bubble workplaces and a bubble fragmented country.
Within our respective bubbles, there are approved attitudes, political stances and information sources. Some things that don’t fit your local bubble ethos are just not said out loud, until you are sure – very sure - of your audience. After all, you don’t want to offend, or worse, be ridiculed, or even … excommunicated.
bubbles are comfortable intellectual prisons.
We learn, grow, avoid mistakes, acquire knowledge and wisdom though a
self-correction process powered by
dialogue. But real dialogue requires
attentive, sincere listening. That just doesn’t happen very often within a
bubble. [This point was brilliantly illustrated by the
The Obama ascendancy may turn out to be a very good thing. I am cautiously hopeful at this very early stage of the formation process of the new administration. But the bubble isolation we Americans tend to live in does not inspire confidence because there is a pending, hyper-partisan issue – let’s call it the “bad bubble attack initiative of 2009”.
Some on the left – and they now have the votes – want to help destroy the information feed that influences the “wrong” bubble. The so called “fairness doctrine” is censorship by stealth. If it is selectively imposed on the radio band by the federal government, stations will revert to the days when nobody listened to anything but music and a five minute newscast on the hour.
Robust opinion will be effectively silenced by a
smother pillow called “opinion diversity”. In practice, this can only be
accomplished by a form of content
censorship. This measure,
I can only hope that President Obama is a principled liberal whose allegiance to the First Amendment ethos and whose commitment to dialogue will give him the foresight and backbone to throttle the censorship-through-fairness initiative in the very cradle.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
When you peel away the veil of hype, spin, celebrity infatuation and ideological meanness, behind the political struggles of the moment you will find a dance.
To see it is a marvel.
But to witness any unseen thing in our lives, we need to notice the universal ebb and flow that is operating in the moment. In politics, the pendulum metaphor is too mechanical. We need to feel the rhythm, the rhythm of a dance. And we need to see the outlines the larger drama, the nine thousand year arc of the developing human condition. The dance of human politics is both beautiful and dangerous -the former because it can lead us up, the latter because it can also take us down into the abyss.
Politics is the dance of four minds. It’s all about power and boundaries.
· For liberal minds, boundaries are obstacles to be eliminated.
· For conservative minds, boundaries are bulwarks to be defended.
· For centrist minds, ideological boundaries are threats to a delicate balance.
· This is why reasonable minds, the rarest of all, are inherently wary of ideological extremes.
I personally believe that extreme ideologies are like mind-worms that feed on the vulnerable. All ideologically driven minds, especially those fevered minds infected by the ideologies of the last century, are dancing on a precipice. They always fall.
A SLEEPING GIANT
Each of the archetypal mindsets is “onto something” -- each is a gift to us of one essential part of the Truth. No culture can afford to ignore or marginalize a single one of these gifts, except at great peril. Here’s the deal: a society without liberal minds, without conservative minds and without centrist minds – all of whom are in mutual dialogue – is soon gripped in a downward slide; the slope is steep and the momentum of the fall is constantly accelerating…
“Not my problem”, you say? No part of a human society falls over the precipice without taking others down with it. I believe that times of imbalance – like our present situation - are dangerous because the rules of the dance are unforgiving: We are permitted to briefly lose our balance, but we must quickly regain our footing or we will fall. The precipice is always near It’s a long way down.
In this circumstance, dialogue is not a convenience – it is our lifeline.
Now, there is a dark secret about this dance: Imagine a giant with huge feet sleeping under our dance floor. This giant is us, the people, not the population, but that ancient virtual being that holds the precious life lessons of our ancestors. This is our giant, the keeper of our pains, joys, successes and failures – especially of our failures. The sleeping giant embodies our common wisdom, our common sense and our common morality. When the dancers are careless and unbalanced, they awaken the giant under the dance floor. And all hell breaks loose.
Or so it will seem to the dancing elites.
This is the first of three linked pieces about politics and the human condition.