Expose, Evaluate, Evolve: Devotion to Ideals ///
John McCain: “…Whether we think each other right or wrong in our views on the issues of the day, we owe each other our respect, as long as our character merits respect, and as long as we share for all our differences, for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold – that all are created equal, and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all.“
This is an excerpt from his latest book [The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations].
This past week I have spent a lot of time thinking about our podcast. Thinking about what it means to me personally. Really working to understand why our slogan resonates with me: Expose, Evaluate and Evolve.
Ideal is Critical
This excerpt really starts to sum up why More In Common is so important to me. McCain’s comments are idealist. Our nation certainly hasn’t lived up to this vision. But the ideal is critical. It’s the goal to be accomplished. It may not be where we are. We may be far from it. But, it is what we strive to be.
That’s precisely why this excerpt is so pertinent to what I have been thinking about this past week. I have been thinking about how effectively I’m living up to the mission of More In Common. Asking myself; am I doing enough to represent our mission and goals? Both in our recordings and in everyday life.
The answer is simple…No. I’m working toward being better in our conversations. Being better every day. But I am not there yet. The challenge is understanding where that is. What is the goal? What is so important to me about Expose, Evaluate and Evolve?
My previous blog
In my previous blog, [My Struggle sharing our conversations] I mentioned why this podcast matters. Why I keep pushing through the anxieties of sharing. Part of that anxiety is a reflection of this reality.
Asking these question has helped me realize M.I.C. means more to me than just conversation. Expose, Evaluate, and Evolve is more than just the words.
A Little Population Data…
In 1950, according to the Census Bureau, there were 151,325,798 people in the United States. From 1940-1990 more than 80% of the U.S. was White. In 1940, 1950, 1960 and 1970 this number was higher than 87%. As of May 3, 2018 there were 327,649,475 people in the United States. The White population is 76.9% as of July 1, 2017. 61% is non-Hispanic. The one demographic expected to drop in the next 40 years. The drop will be 10% of the total population by 2060. (Note: Non-Hispanic white was not specified in the prior census numbers referenced)
In other words, the country is changing. Growing in population significantly and aggressively. The population distribution continues to change. More and more cultures, ideals, and identities are being introduced. Not just as a percentage of the population but also in sheer numbers. This simply means that more and more people are going to support more and more thoughts, ideas, behaviors, identities and cultures.
I believe this is a great thing! It presents more opportunities to learn. More experiences to understand. Possibility for new perspectives and cultural influences.
It also creates opportunities to slip away from the core ideals McCain highlights. Of course, if we permit that slip. If we believe that the moral turpitude of our country is represented by the negatives. The negatives of individuals, families, cultures and people. After all we receive negatives far more easily than positives. Especially when we aren’t paying attention.
I certainly know this applies to me. I have fought the impulse to perceive negatives over positives. Of course, these can be constructive. But they can also be destructive. Thinking negatively about someone’s clothes. Someone’s hair color. Judging someone’s weight or the way they walk. I’m sure we can all add something to this list.
Then I woke up the other day and looked at Facebook. I saw a friend re-post something I don’t agree with. At first, it caused me to cringe. There was no context. He didn’t add any opinion or thought. Just a forward of some other person’s position. And there I was, frustrated with his behavior. Projecting it onto millions of others. Thinking, this is the moral turpitude of our country. Issue aside…
Then I asked myself, “am I living my ideals?” The ideals of More In Common? Am I really evaluating and evolving?
The thing is, this is common. A lot of people do this. I don’t know how many people do it or how often. Nor do I know what percentage of the population does this. Let’s say it is 60,000,000 people. That’s a lot of people. But, that’s still less than 20% of the U.S. population. There are still 260+ million people who may look to engage less divisively. 260+ million people who may not just share rhetoric and disgust for others.
Of course, these are arbitrary numbers. But…if it is an accurate statistic, then there are a lot of opportunities for positivity.
Why do I care about this type of behavior?
So I started wondering if I really care that this happens.
Certainly there are dangerous thoughts, actions and behaviors. Some greatly impact others. In those cases, they should be confronted, addressed and judged by the proper authorities. But the vast majority of these things do not fall in this category. Yet, I have spent a lot of time confronting, addressing and judging without merit or reason.
In this thought, I realized a couple things. One, I don’t want to be that person and that is not the ideal me. Two, the ideals of More In Common mean more to me than the words representing them.
Expose, Evaluate and Evolve is a mission for me to live by. For me to strive toward. Not just in recording or in blogging. But each day I think negatively about someone else. A north star to anchor on how I perceive everyone with whom I interact. Even if the position is one that needs to be challenged.
Bring it all together.
We have a rapidly increasing population. More people, with more experiences, with more perspectives to share. McCain said we should have “…a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold – that all are created equal, and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all. (McCain).” Ultimately, those values are only measured by how we treat each other and how we engage.
To me More In Common is more than just exposing different perspectives. It is more than evaluating other’s stories. It’s about helping ensure I contribute to the ideals of liberty, equality and equal justice for all.
Our history is flooded with disagreement leading to disengagement. Disengagement has been easy as our history has been one sided.
Now, our diversity presents an opportunity for an alternative direction. The resistance to change is represented by smaller groups. Smaller than they used to be anyway. These groups certainly still wield a lot of influence and power. After all, the change to demographics happens a lot faster than the change to people and power structures.
Expose, Evaluate, Evolve
I do this podcast because I want to be a part of a culture that embraces empathy, tolerance and acceptance. But more so, I want to be part of a culture that listens. A culture that challenges each other. And where those challenges are received with passion but respect. We all don’t have the one right answer. That is a certainty. With all the people in the country, there is bound to be a place for this culture. A culture the represents a majority who want equality, equal justice and liberty for all.
It is my goal to get out of the ecosystem that just shares ideas. It is my goal to be at the beginning of a shift. A shift that promotes both comfortable and uncomfortable discussion. Engaging to expose the why, evaluate the what and ultimately evolve ourselves. Evolve ourselves for the sake of understanding and being understood.
We don’t speak for others. We simply listen and try to engage them. It is my time to focus on engaging others. Challenging where necessary and accepting being challenged ALWAYS. Conversation isn’t the end all. But, it breaks down barriers. It influences perspectives. And, after all, it promotes an opportunity to learn and grow.
As Theo E.J. Wilson says… “What if I told you, one of the best ways to overcome this is to have courageous conversations with difficult people. People who do not see the world the same way you see the world.” (A black man undercover in the alt-right | Theo E.J. Wilson | TEDxMileHigh).
And we aren’t alone. We know a lot of people and organizations who have been doing this work for longer. People truly at the beginning of demonstrating engagement, tolerance and acceptance. People like Cristian Picciolini and Theo E.J. Wilson. Organizations like Table Talk. We want to be a part of their ecosystem and bring along more people who are looking for the same.