I am feeling frustrated in my personal journey to help end polarization. I just don't understand how ensuring a 51 percent majority is supposed to end division and polarization? (Wasn't President Biden elected with a 51 percent majority?)
Thanks for reaching out. First of all, I want to thank you for making the ending of polarization your personal journey. It says a lot about who you are and your commitment to service. It’s because of you, and people like you, that I still have hope that we can get to some semblance of peace and balance in this nation!
I wish I had a magic formula that would get you to where you want to go more quickly, but I wonder if focusing on election percentages is the best strategy. Measuring success based on election results in our predominantly two-party system reminds me of football. Two teams have their own opposing goals. One team has the ball and, with all of its might, does everything to get to that goal. Meanwhile a team of relatively equal force is doing everything it can to, first, make sure the opponent doesn’t achieve its goal, and second, gain control of the ball. Except for the occasional touchdown, the most that is gained is a few yards in either direction.
This is the unfortunate situation of our time: Because of a compulsive need to win, be right and demonize one another, two parties, having pitted themselves against each other, are using up enormous amounts of energy, resources, force and ingenuity to reach an attainable goal. And we wonder why we are exhausted and frustrated. So much time, money and energy are put into winning races, gaining seats and lobbying for issues in order to push solutions that will ultimately only satisfy a portion of any nation’s population. Whether you think that your solutions are the most humane and the best solutions for the entire nation, if the two sides fight relentlessly to push their agenda and demonize the other side, the possibility of hope, peace and lasting change gets further away from us.
The causes of the extreme polarization won’t be found in data and statistics. Eliminating the symptoms of a problem only provides temporary relief (like Biden’s 51 percent for some). Like trimming weeds at a surface level, no matter how hard you work at it, the weeds will always grow back. The most effective way to solve a problem is to identify, and then eradicate, the root cause. Before we can break the gridlock of extreme polarization and see real lasting change, we must address the underlying core issues that got us in this predicament: With the extreme levels of global anxiety, uncertainty and change, our hearts are shut down and our nervous systems are in a constant state of perceiving anything that is different as a threat.
Until we address this issue, we will continue to stay in this stagnating back-and-forth. So, the work of our time is to support ourselves and others in an effort to move beyond the fight-flight-freeze responses to the anxiety we are all experiencing. By finding ways to relieve some of our stress and cultivate resilience and a sense of internal power, we can remember who we are at our best. We remember that we are trying to change a system, not people.
My Fierce Civility Approach offers skills to increase resilience, and sharpen and upgrade our skills and strategies to de-escalate tensions before they rise to conflict. For me, being in one’s heart is not some saccharine-sweet greeting card sentiment. It is a strategy that entails embodying courage, wisdom, common sense, patience and skill in order to engage with those who are different in a way that builds bridges instead of reinforces the opposition and volatility.
So, what are you doing for self-care? How are you rejuvenating yourself? How are you discharging the toxic energy that you are probably confronted with? How are you increasing your skills and resilience to be able to achieve as much as you are doing, but with less time and energy?
And what if the two football teams chose to pool resources, talent, force and knowledge and play a game that leads to win-win solutions? What are you doing to establish new alliances in surprising places? Who are you collaborating with on this mission of yours? Are they supportive? Nurturing? Or are you doing the heavy lifting? Increase your capacity to find new alliances that are healthy and nurturing, expanding your leverage and scope of influence.
So, Curious, I can relate to the frustration. You may have been expecting a different kind of response, but perhaps you can consider adding these perspectives to your current strategies.
You are doing the noble work of holding our nation to its highest values and potential.
We need you in this for the long haul,
- American is divided into three parts, not two - The Fulcrum ›
- Podcast: Polarization and cancel culture - The Fulcrum ›
- Polarization is more of a cultural problem than a political one ›
- Dealing with defamation - The Fulcrum ›