Political discourse is at a place where it’s hard — if not impossible — to see it as productive. Most times, it doesn’t even seem like folks who are arguing have a vision for anything being accomplished by that argument, other than hearing words yelled.

Facts have been weaponized and are lobbed as projectiles, not used as tools to build a bridge from one perspective to another. Opinions are worn like armor, used to protect ourselves from the bombardment of facts. We scream for our ideas to drown out the screams of others for theirs.

If sports are modeled after war, as many people say, our political discourse has taken a form modeled after the way we talk about sports.

Politics as Sports

Let me first draw the parallels, and highlight how this mentality can be harmful, before I suggest an alternative way of approaching things. In sports, and in politics-as-sports…

We’re loyal to a team.

Sometimes that loyalty comes from our family, sometimes we pick our team to piss off our family. Sometimes we study the statistics and pick a team based on who we like the most, and other times we choose based on our favorite color.

But what’s important is we have a team — a team. Just one. And that you cheer for that team loud and clear, win or lose, year after year.

We chide people for changing team loyalties.

We despise “fair-weather” fans. That is, we despise people who like a team because it’s good. In fact, we go so far in that direction that we celebrate attachment to a losing team to the point where it’s sadomasochistic:

Oh, you’re a Cubs fan… now? I was born a Cubs fan. I was a Cubs fan when they lost — year after year. I come from a family of Cubs fans. Three generations of watching them lose. Three generations of depressing seasons, losing records, heartbreaking but-this-is-the-one-shit-no-it’s-not seasons. I drank myself out of a job because of the Cubs. Do you still have your job? You’re no Cubs fan.

Even more, we hold people to things they’ve supported in the past forever (“Yeah, but you used to be a fan of _____.”), make no room for them to grow or change, and attack them when they do — even when they change because they didn’t want to keep being loyal to something terrible.

We use “we” language even though we’re not playing.

We’re not actually on the team, but we think of ourselves as part of it. When our team loses, we lost. When the team wins, we won. The team’s mood is our mood, the team’s beliefs are our beliefs, and the team’s sponsors are our sponsors.

It’s possessive and maybe should be creepy (the way we take ownership of other people, of their actions, and attach ourselves to strangers), but it’s not. It’s fantastical and maybe should feel childish (the way we imagine ourselves as the players, and allow our moods to be dictated by their decisions), but it doesn’t.

Sometimes, when our team loses we’ll take it out on other people, or an entire town. We’ll riot, burn things down, flip cars, scream at strangers. Actually, we do that when we win, too.

And we have rivals, and we hate them because we hate them.

The team we’re loyal to has a team that they hate. They might hate them because of some past contest, some lore from decades ago, or something else (they’re the only other team in our area). It doesn’t really matter why we hate them; it matters how much.

And we hate them a lot.

We hate the rival team so much we curse the very idea of them: don’t you dare mention that name in this house. We hate them so much we hate their supporters. We’ll scream at them, just for wearing the other team’s colors. We’ll disown someone in our life for becoming one of them. Hell, we’ll even fight them in a bar, or on the street, or in a stadium — physically punish a stranger for liking something different from us. And people will cheer.

Politics as Something Different from Sports

The parallels between how we treat politics and how we treat sports could be further elucidated. In fact, they’ve grown so similar it’s unsettling, especially to someone (like me) who doesn’t care much for sports (read: at all) but cares deeply about politics.

It’s unsettling because, to the outsider, deep-set, irrational loyalties in sports (to the point of bloodshed) may seem foolish, but it’s a self-contained foolishness. It doesn’t much leave the arena. Let those people work themselves up (and beat themselves up).

But deep-set, irrational loyalties in politics affect all of us, even those who don’t have a team. There is no leaving the arena when the arena is the world, and angry, mindless, passionate political superfans have the capacity to burn the world down, just to see their rivals in pain.

So what’s the fix?

We need to cultivate a political discourse that is everything the above isn’t. To get out of this quagmire, we need a political playing field where:

  • The team doesn’t matter as much as what that team is doing, what they are standing for or against, and the platform they’re standing on.
  • We support people growing, learning, and evolving, as society grows, learns, and evolves. Where we don’t chide people because they have a new perspective, but celebrate that they’ve expanded their viewpoint in light of evidence.
  • We distance ourselves from the politicians we support, such that we can hold them accountable to their failures without burdening ourselves with that failure, and recognize when they’ve done wrong without having to view ourselves as wrong. We need to see them as our employees, our “civil servants.” We need to start to see them, not us.
  • And we don’t see people who support different politicians from ours as inherently, irrevocably, and irredeemably bad. More importantly, we recognize that the most important alliance is amongst the electorate as a whole, allied against a political class that works against their interests.

And how do we enact it?

We can think small, on the interpersonal level, while thinking more systemically. Both can be done at once.

We might start to recognize the harmful similarities between politics and sports, and call the out when we notice them. Point out, or ask questions, when we think someone is rallying for their team, instead of supporting an idea they think will make the world better.

And we might consider the role of the free press, as well as elections and referenda, to hold this same line on the system level. Push journalists to throw away the sports fan mindset, and to stop asking questions, producing headlines, and publications that foster it. As well as voting based on platforms, ideas, and outcomes; instead of matching the colors of our face paint to the party logo.

But first we need to start with ourselves. Even as I write this, I’m recalling dozens of examples where I’ve been more sports fan than informed citizen, more hooligan than suffragist.

This, for me, starts by putting away the pennant and retiring my jersey. Before we try to change the harmful ways someone else might be approaching political discourse, it’s helpful for us to investigate our own.

Updated September 12, 2016: we officially launched this project, after about 11 months in development, production, and ideation. Woohoo!

FacilitatingXYZ is everything I wish I had when I got started as a facilitator — and together, we can build it into something that helps us continue to learn, develop, and grow. It’s a free online resource with videos, articles, downloads and (soon!) community to help all facilitators improve their craft.

FacilitatingXYZ-Logo-Animation

There are so many parts to this project that it’s hard to nail down what I’m excited about most.

First, there are the videos. The goal of the videos is to have short, clear, actionable explainers of different facilitation techniques. Folks might use them as part of a facilitator training, or just watch them on their own for pointers and perspective. We also have a long-form interview series with facilitators we admire called FacilitatingXYZ LIVE.

We’ll be doing at least one video to explain our favorite lessons from Unlocking the Magic: facilitation as a nuanced skill, facilitation vs. teaching vs. lecturing, being neutral, reading a group, the power of both/and vs. but, how to use the “yes, and…” rule, asking good questions, vulnerability, triggers, learning from emotions, and role modeling continuous learning. Beyond that, the subjects of the videos will come from our peers, or from requests from the community.

facxyz-social-card

The articles will highlight lessons learned, food for thought, and tips from facilitators of all disciplines. We’re welcoming contributions from anyone who would like to, and I’m excited to see how robust this section can become.

We are also recommending books (not just the ones we’re writing) that we think other facilitators may be able to benefit from. For example, Meg wrote up a book recommendation of Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks that’s already featured on the site.

There’s a section of downloads, with things like lesson plans and discussion questions for folks who are training facilitators in any capacity, and every chapter from our books (published and forthcoming) is, or will be, free as a sharing-friendly download.

An early design concept I made in Photoshop from October 2015

An early design concept from October 2015 that I made in Photoshop

 

And finally, the yet-to-be-built community. We’re hoping that FacilitatingXYZ can serve as more than just a resource hub, and become a vibrant community. Right now, there isn’t a place where facilitators of all stripes can share learning with one another, provide support, co-create resources, and be reassured that we’re never alone. FacilitatingXYZ will be an opportunity for all that and more. Right now, the first vestige of this community is in our Patreon page, where folks can subscribe to exclusive updates from us. But that’s just step one of many.

facilitatingxyz-manifestoIn the spirit of facilitation, we’re going to leave as much of the direction of the community up to the group. Tell us where you want us to go, and we will do everything we can to get us there.

And, as with everything else I make, this project is 100% uncopyrighted, contributed to the creative commons, and everything we create will be yours to use, modify, improve, or repurpose.

Hope you like it! Let me know what you think.

With love,

sK

I’m excited for Thailand. I’ve heard so many amazing things.

I’ve spoken with people who have immersed themselves in the culture, and had opportunities to reflect on things that were previously invisible in their lives. I know a couple people who have gone and never returned. That says a lot about a place.

I’ve talked with activists who are doing tremendous things in the worlds of gender liberation, sex worker advocacy, and social justice education. I’ve learned so much from them already, from afar, from email.Keep Reading

There are some wonderful things happening right now. All last year, I said it again and again, we’re on the cusp of something great. Sites trying to create positive change in the world dominate my social media feeds. I was getting my hair cut today and I said I do “social justice work” and the hairdresser actually [kinda] knew what that meant. We’re more aware than we have been in my lifetime, and we’d be okay with a revolution.

But we still have a long way to go (hard to believe, I know, what with a Black president and all). So what do we do in 2014 to capitalize on the momentum we built in 2013? There are a few things I would like to see happen. Or, rather, some things that happened a lot in 2013 that I’d like to see less of.

1. Spend Less Time Preaching to the Converted

If you’re doing social justice work you probably surround yourself with social justice people, whether it’s in person or online – that’s great. Everyone needs a network or family of support. SJ work is inherently stressful, depressing, and all-faith-in-humanity-depleting, so you could argue we need it more than most. I would argue that.

But there’s fine line between support system and echo chamber. We need the support system, but I’m hoping in 2014 we can spend less time in the echo chamber. I’m hoping we can step outside and start to engage in more conversations with the folks on the fringes and beyond. Helping these folks better understand SJ issues and, hopefully, jump aboard means change.

It’s far more difficult to talk to lay people than folks well-versed in SJ issues. You have to start at square one every time, go in without assumptions, allow them to ask questions and guide the conversation, and who got time for that? Well, hopefully, you. There are other questions for us to mull. Your blog post has 1,000 shares? Who is sharing it? Or, more importantly, who is reading it? Who is showing up for your SJ session at that conference? Who isn’t? Why not? How can we get them interested? How can we get through to them? Who let the dogs out?

I love talking SJ with SJ people. It’s like mutual verbal masturbation. But moreso, I love the idea of a socially just society, and that’s not going to happen if we spend all our time mutually verbal masturbating each other. Also, probably won’t help if that analogy catches on.

2. Spend Less Time Vilifying Ignorance

Here’s a [non-scientific and likely exaggerated to make this point] distribution of the links in my Facebook newsfeed:

  1. Blank Ways This Blanky Blank Blanked That Will Blow Your Mind (42%)
  2. This Asshole Who Doesn’t Understand Social Justice Said/Did Something Bigoty (32%)
  3. Adorable Animals (16%)
  4. Something Anti or Pro Gun Rights (7%)
  5. George Takei (3%)

Here are some things I would love to see more of:

  1. This Person Screwed Up, Which Is Understandable. Social Justice Issues are Complex.
  2. Here’s An Easy To Understand, Non-Vitriolic Explanation of This SJ Concept
  3. I Remember Back To When I Didn’t Understand this Issue, So I Can Empathize With Why You Can’t Wrap Your Mind Around It
  4. This Person Asked An Honest Question And We Gave Them A Compassionate, Patient Answer
  5. George Takei

I wrote about this the other day: ignorance isn’t a bad thing. We need to stop treating it like it is, and creating demons out of ignorance. Most of us are incredibly ignorant about most of the things in the world, and all of us started out completely ignorant to SJ issues. We all started at square one, we all learned, and now we have the opportunity to share that learnin’ with others. We can allow ourselves to hate the ignorant folks, or we can choose to love them and do what we can to make them feel safe outside of their echo chambers.

3. Spend Less Time Acquiescing to the Status Quo

The majority of Americans support the majority of the big issues American social justice people are working toward. I’m not sure exactly how things look elsewhere, but that’s a pretty shocking fact to experience here.

States opposing marriage equality are dropping like flies, but they are still in the majority, even though the populous has spoken. Why is that still being “debated”? Even in red states, the vast majority of people believe climate change is real and that the gov’t should step in. Mostmost (sorry, running out of synonyms) think capitalism is broken, or are at least displeased with wealth inequality in the US. I could go on, but I won’t. You get it.

It’s a weird time to be alive as a social justice advocate. We have the majority — we’re not some ruffian group of rabble-rousers — and we’re bowing out to the minority, a few old, outmoded, racist rocks standing against a surge of progress. But we’re still complicit in supporting huge systems of racial (and other identity-based) oppression. Aziz Ansari is comforted knowing racist people are dying off (FYI: I was doing that joke in 2006 — still have the notebook I wrote it in, but this isn’t about that… Aziz).

It’s like our cell phone reception was bad when heard that famous Maya Angelou quote, and internalized it wrong:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

Noooo! You must have been going through a tunnel. You missed the two most important parts. Change it! Change it. We can change it, y’all.

I was talking with this person on the bus the other day who was part of the civil rights marches in the 50s. He told me all these amazing stories, and I was completely enamored, and then I excitedly told him what I do. “I got a bone to pick with you,” he said. “You got the internet, and it seems like everyone’s talking about how things need to get better. Y’all got it so easy. We didn’t have none of that. So what the hell is wrong with your generation? We’d’ve fixed everything by now.”

People with privilege, start using your privilege to make change, instead of falling back so hard on the privilege of being able to ignore how broken things are.

#1 and #2 will help #3, but ultimately nothing will change unless we stop supporting and perpetuating the things we don’t believe in and start raising hell to see them changed.

Sorry, Internet, but my mind isn’t, has never been, and will likely remain unblown. But every time you trick me into clicking on one of your linkbaity lists or videos I die a little inside. Because I want to care. I do care. A lot. But there’s only so much someone can actually care, let’s call it the Caring Tolerance™. I’m starting to worry that you’re abusing people’s attention and increasing our Caring Tolerance™ the way a college student treats their liver first semester.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rage-read “my last” Buzzfeed article swearing I’d never go back to the site for anything but good ol’ fashioned America’s Funniest Home Videos style laughs. But then I see an article with “faith in humanity” in the title and my mouse hand moves faster than my brain. Then I’m back to rage-reading.

How many times can I read THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE and have it do absolutely nothing, before I start to think nothing will? Or, worse, how much empathy can I be coerced into experiencing by over-the-top, SPCA Sara McLachlan wannabe videos on Upworthy before I can’t experience genuine empathy for the people in my immediate life (who aren’t soon-to-be-executed dogs, but still need love)?Keep Reading

I remember the first time I played Show Me Yours I’ll Show You Mine. Some people call it Doctor. If you’ve never played, worry not: the rules are the simple. Show me yours. Then I show you mine. And who is the winner? Everyone.

It’s a fascinating game in every way. It’s taboo, breaking the rules your parents and teachers imposed upon you, so that’s awesome. But it also grinds against our personal comforts at the expense of satisfying curiosity — a paradox we’re faced with frequently in life. It’s doesn’t mean anything while at the same time meaning everything. And it’s something many people are ashamed of, or won’t talk about doing, but a lot of people do. Just ask someone, right now, “Did you ever play Show Me Yours I’ll Show You Mine?” I just asked a friend sitting beside me in this coffee shop and got a bashful smile and a reluctant yes.

It’s a game we played as kids, but many of us still play as adults (because alcohol). Yet, for many of us, we’re just as bashful as adults as we were when we were 5 years old (not bragging). Can you imagine playing Red Rover at a work retreat with the same glee and wonder as you did on the playground? There is NO WAY Sue from accounting is gonna break this grip! We mature in so many ways but one.

I also remember the first time I got in trouble for playing that game. I was terrified. And more recently, viewing this game from the “adult” lens, I’ve heard friends talk about disciplining their kids when they are caught playing. “Sam, you know about sexuality and gender stuff. What should we do? Is this okay? Is it normal?” I generally have a rule in these circumstances of replying Socratically, “What do you think? Did you play that game as a kid? Are you okay? Are you normal?” Which is ultimately code for “There is no way in hell you’re outsourcing the guilt for whatever punishment you’re about to mete out to me. You’re on your own, friend.”

Why are we so afraid of genitals? A lot of us treat them with the fear and reverence of Voldemort. You-Know-Who. “I’ve got a rash on my He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!” Sometimes I’ll yell penis or vagina on stage just because. It’s outlandish. Those words! One of my favorite shows, Scrubs, features Elliot Reed, a doctor who is unable to say the proper words for sexual anatomy and instead has a ton of hilarious replacement words.

We refer to our genitals as our private parts. Worse, we think of them as our family jewels. “Behold my treasure! Worth a king’s ransom, if I do say so myself. And I do. I say so.”

We are Troy. We are the Achaeans.

The Trojan War is pretty famous. You’ve probably heard of it. It makes a great analogy for how we view our genitals and how we view (or, more commonly, don’t view) other people’s genitals. Also, this isn’t a sponsored message (though there’s a lot of power and duplicity in the message of that brand, if you know what I’m talkin’ about). So, how are we Troy, the city with fabled impenetrable walls, as well as the Achaeans, the enemies who breached those walls and destroyed the city?

We internalize a message that our genitals are valuable, sacred, meant to be defended and safeguarded, and that we are gatekeepers and the world is full of would-be keymasters. This makes us unique. There’s one of us, and everyone else. It’s worth noting that this message is often more vigorously [phrasing] reinforced for people with vaginas, but people with penises are also taught to protect their nethers.

At the same time, we’re navigating a confusing and mixed-message world that pushes us to want to enter other people’s Troy. We want to see their Helen (if you know what I mean), and are encouraged to devise a number of strategies to do that. If you’re doubting this line of thought, just start to google any celebrity’s name and see what it auto-suggests. Like so:

jon-hamm-bulge

“Sorry to put you on the spot here, Jon. But we really wanna see your Helen. And I know you haven’t lowered the gates, so we’re gonna find a way around that. We are Achaeans. We have the internet. We will see your penis.”

To wrap things in a nice horse-shaped package [phrasing]: we simultaneously are working to keep something in obscurity while we are trying to uncover it.

Our Two Signature Moves When Confronting The Unknown

Humans. So simple in their complexity. When facing the unknown, humans generally react in one of two ways with millions of subtle variations: fear or curiosity. </robot-voice> Xenophobia versus Wanderlust. Terrifying Abyss versus The Final Frontier. Couch Potato versus Couch Surfing Potato.

Genital Xenophobia

When faced with talking about, thinking about, interacting with genitals, and all the unknowns and taboo circulating all of this, a lot of us react with fear. Let’s dissect [phrasing] genital xenophobia.

Our Puritanical history taught us to be afraid of genitals, and to keep our genitals covered up and secret because otherwise… I’m not really sure, exactly, but because bad! This perspective leads to encouraging abstinence, to keeping your private parts private. The common sense benefits of this are that you don’t end up engaging in sexual stuff until you’re ready, you’re less likely to get sexually transmitted infections, and you won’t have oops babies. Unfortunately, common sense is often the best way to be completely wrong about humans. The opposite is true on all three accounts.

I also blame genital xenophobia for a lot of the unhealthy and dangerous interactions we have with gender — ours and other people’s. Why do half the emails that fill my spam folder have some variation of “penis” and “enlargement” in the subject? (“Hugify Your Wang Today!”) Why is acknowledgement of menstruation met with public shaming? Why do people react with violence against trans* folks?

Genital Wanderlust

On the other hand, many of us have the urge to explore genitalia, to uncover the covered, to boldly go where no man has gone before (If you read between the lines, Star Trek is really just about space doin’ it). People born with penises are affirmed in this exploration — we’re told we are “biologically evolved” to wander. People born with vaginas are shamed if they do, because biology.

Biologically, again, our common sense is met with a scientific “nope.” The “research” (scare quotes!) that has people believing that men have evolved to spread their seed and women have evolved to keep a one-farmer garden is more than just questionable, it’s nonsense. The exact opposite is true. We’re biologically inclined to find one partner and to latch on to that person like the Kraken to a pirate ship, but with our genitals (how’s that for powerful imagery?). And if you don’t believe me, read my friend Andrew Smiley’s book Challenging CasanovaYou finished? Cool. Let’s continue.

But the curiosity that’s created by the societally-required unknown surrounding genitals leads to genital wanderlust. And, like genital xenophobia, this creates a lot of not-so-healthy interactions with gender. Why do you think teens have entire websites dedicated to asking strangers about their genitals? (some of which are wonderful, necessary sites due to this phenomenon, like Scarleteen) Why are young people being convicted of pornography for taking and sharing nude photos of themselves? Why is sexting a word? Why is one of the first questions many trans* people are asked some version of “what do your genitals look like?”

Let’s Be Naked All The Time

Hahahaha kidding. Sorry to freak you out. I bet you were all, “Wow, Sam, this took a sudden turn,” then you read my “hahahaha” and you were all, “Phew. That made me really uncomfortable. I’m happy you were kidding. Ever the jokester, Sam.” Don’t worry, friend. This isn’t a healthy gender article red herring nudist manifesto. I’m not a nudist. But I am totally serious. Sorry for the double gotcha. Now let’s take off our pants and talk about this seriously.

Whoa. How uncomfortable does that idea make you? Pretty freaking uncomfortable, right? Me too. I know I’m publicly anti-pants, but I’m only genuinely comfortable with that idea in private. I’m just as freaked out about people seeing my penis as you are. Interpret that sentence however you’d like. It’s a visceral, powerful discomfort. I’ve had dreams of forgetting to wear pants in public situations (like at school). You know, like in the movies. And by dreams I mean nightmares. Pantsless Nightmares (the title of my forthcoming memoir). I’d like to think of myself as normal (ha!), and this is forever in the back of my mind, lurking below the surface of my mind ocean, waiting to Genital Kraken my Thought Pirate Ship (how’s that for confusing imagery?).

But I do believe that the world would be a happier place if we didn’t wear clothes. And I don’t think it would be a 24/7/365 Worldwide Sex Party, like the conservative reaction to this article might misinterpret (also, that’s the title of my forthcoming fictional memoir, AKA my A Million Little Pieces). Okay, let’s slip into something more comfortable, and break this down list-style.

1. If we removed the unknown of genitals, we’d remove the fear and the curiosity.

You might be saying, “But there are a lot of positives to the curiosity! But romance!” And I would reply by arguing that relationships would be healthier and more fulfilling if the romance was about who you were on the inside, not about the genital surprise you get to unwrap after five dates (or one, or ten, or marriage — freak what you feel).

2. We’d become more comfortable with ourselves.

If the only comparison you have for your own genitals is what you’re able to find in porn or same-sex relationships, you’re likely not getting a broad or representative perspective. Anyone who has seen hundreds of real-life genitals (like a doctor, or someone who has sex with hundreds of people) can tell you that genitals are like snowflakes: no two are identical. Sure, this wouldn’t relieve all the comparison pressure, but it would definitely help clear the air. Like the way we view our noses.

3. I’m going to stop this thought experiment here.

Because I know I’ve likely lost you. This is too much. Too radical. Too hypothetical. It’s like skipping learning to walk and jumping right to olympic hurdles. And I know that, because I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m sorry for pushing you so hard. I normally wouldn’t. But I wanted to take you here, and to walk you down this thought road, because I think that there is a lot of value in going here hypothetically, even if there is no intention of going here societally.

But Let’s Actually Not.

We don’t need to become a nudist planet to move past the uncomfortable and unhealthy relationship a lot of us have with our genitals. It would be the microwave, Easy-Bake™ attempt to solve an incredibly complex, slow-cooked gumbo of a problem. And it would also terrify so many people that it would likely backfire and cause more harm than good. Too much challenge leads to recession, not growth.

But we can gain a better understand our own genital xenophobia and wanderlust, how those things influence and distort our understanding of gender, and come up with healthier approaches to how we relate (or don’t) to our own genitals and other people’s.

Let’s work to create a culture where genitals aren’t a taboo subject. Starting from a young age, using the proper words (sorry, Dr. Reed) is a great way to start. Teaching a person with a penis to call it a hoo-hah isn’t helping anyone, especially that kid. We need to demystify genitals if we want people to have a healthy relationship to their bodies, and be able to have healthy relationships with one another.

Let’s work to create a culture where people aren’t shamed because of their genitals. This is a lot to ask, because we shame people for just about every other part of their bodies, but I’m asking it anyhow. Diminishing the taboo will help, as it will hopefully lead to more open dialogue. Exploiting self-consciousness in advertising will also help, and we can stop (as individuals, with our dollars) supporting companies that do this. But above all, as I always say, the best thing you can do is work to make sure that the people in your immediate life are unashamed of who they are.

Let’s work to create a culture where sex and genitals are decriminalized. I mean this as it relates to comprehensive sex education, trans* persons’ rights, reproductive justice, and sex workers’ rights. For something we call our “private parts” we sure do a lot of public policing. If we satisfy the first two cultural shifts, this one will follow naturally. But changing the law can also change the culture, and that’s why I support pushing legislation in these areas as a means to remove the taboo and shame on an individual and interpersonal level.

Ultimately, I want you — your whole you — to be able to be happy. These are my three arguments for how we can make that happen. My three requests. Maybe you have other ideas, and I’d love to hear them. I’ve shown you mine. Let’s continue this conversation and you can show me yours.

 

I wrote a Facebook status and Tweet last week that were meant to be a joke. A sarcastic, I want more out of the world, parody-type joke. But nobody laughed.

 

I’m not mad. It was a bit too subtle for me to expect folks to catch the jokiness, and it’s cool that people echoed the top-level sentiment. We’re exposed to a lot of things these days (thanks, Internet) that are making us aware of how badly we need change.

Matt Damon “blew our minds” when he talked about how the reason the world is broken is civil obedience, and we need more disobedience. We saw when Russell Brand started a revolution on Gawker, focusing on the corruption and ineptitude of politicians and our political system. We know how only a few conglomerates own just about everything we consume, thanks to our minds being blown by Buzzfeed. Before that, we were made aware of the devastatingly slanted distribution of wealth in the US by Upworthy, and before that the same thing was brought to our attention by the Occupy Wall Street “Movement.” And way before any of this our minds were blown in 1970 by Howard Zinn’s “The Problem is Civil Obedience” Speech, which is the speech Matt Damon read and blew our minds with in that first video. Full circle, y’all. So. Many. Blown. Minds.

We know all that stuff and more. We know that Monsanto is destroying farming and agriculture, and Walmart is destroying the lives of employees, and Kony is destroying the lives of children. We know that roughly 780 million people lack access to safe, clean, drinkable water (1 in 9 people). We know that there are roughly 630,000 homeless people in the US (1 in 5 people). We know that [BLANK] is destroying [BLANK], or that [BLANK] lacks [BLANK] (and so on, times infinity — we’re well aware of what’s wrong).

We’d be okay with a revolution. We all want to see the world change. But we’re waiting for someone else to do something about it all.

“You say you got a real solution
Well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan, oh yeah
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know we’re all doing what we can.”

And that’s where my anti-joke came from. The frustration I am experiencing with a global consciousness and a lack of global action. We’re hyperaware of all the struggles the world (or at least our respective countries) is facing, yet we’re too weighed down by the fabricated problems in our immediate personal lives to do anything. I talked about how we view activism and this frustration in my latest podcast. We talk about how much we want to change things, but we don’t. But we want to! We really do! I know we do. And that creates a sense of dissonance and shame, or at least guilt. And guilt is paralyzing. And leads to us saying things that prevent anything from happening:

  • There are bigger problems in the world than [BLANK].
  • [Person Who is Calling for Change] isn’t perfect, let’s attack them instead of the system they’re part of (and advocating against).
  • I don’t have the [time, money, energy] for those people — I barely have enough to get by myself.
  • I’m just one person, what can I possibly do?

Do you know how many people we can confirm took part in the Boston Tea Party? 116 (~%0.00005 of the population). That’s zero-point-zero-zero-zero-zero-five people. FOUR ZEROs. I’m not even sure how to express that as a fraction (about 1/20,000th?). That’s way less than the 99% of people who participated in the Occupy Movement (ha! a jest!). But let’s be serious for a moment, can we? Please.

Don’t let all this “blow your mind.” Let this help you be more aware of your mind. Let this push you to mind.

We need to stop being okay with the overwhelming amount of injustice happening in the world, our country, our state, our city. We need to stop being okay with greed that leads to death, corruption that leads to exclusion, and marginalization that leads to a lack of basic human needs being met. We need to stop being okay with a revolution and we need to start demanding one.

***

While digging through my archives to find today’s cover photo, I found this photo below, which seems all too apt a way to end this thought.

occupy-austin-imagine-sam-killermann

This week, I talk about internet activism, sometimes (not so kindly) referred to as hacktivism, slacktivism, or clicktivism. I also air my grievances with Upworthy, but I apologize if I was too harsh (y’all are sweet people).

Check out Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk about charity here.

Fear of Missing Out?

I publish sporadically, aiming for quality of quantity. Would you like me to send you an email every once in awhile with new entries to Better Humaning, and other tasty morsels?

Here’s a link to To Write Love On Her Arms’ founding story (bring tissues to that link).

As ever, huge thanks to Rustik Jamz for the music. Check them out: @rustik-jamz