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78 Why are you not effective?


If you wanted a favor from me, would you run up to me and say, “I am going to fight you”? Do you come to a job interview to say, “Here are my demands; I am going to fight you until I get all of them”? Crazy as that sounds, I see these behaviors practiced every day, in other settings. However, today’s title is merely an attention grabber. You are effective and the article ends on my usual exuberance.

I have already described athletic competition as collaboration between parties who agree to put forth best effort to make each other better (article 64). Boxing and football are sometimes referred to as fighting, although they are exercises in cooperation that make both parties stronger. Today’s article exposes destructive fighting. We are bombarded with it.

The bad example

Think of the last time you have been asked or told to fight. Was that intended to make somebody else stronger? Likely it was meant for getting ahead of someone else in line.

I am still hurting because of a speech by an unsuccessful candidate for President who loudly told the new president elect “If you do not [do what I want], I will fight you every step of the way.”

How was that supposed to improve him? Here is the rule: We love bullies; it is the love that heals them.

The peace principle

Fighting involves coming down to somebody else’s level. In Ernstraudian practice we keep to the high road and invite the world to join us. It is a lofty ambition which is completely within our reach; it is a matter of thinking first. Fighting burns off energy against the other party instead of using it in pursuit of a goal. Overcoming opposition is not the same as achieving progress (article 73, “Intelligence over obstacles”).

Political science is not the art and practice of frustrating other people. It is a study of best paths to an outcome. We usually refer to the best examples as statesmanship. Sadly, “political” has become a derogatory term. By our own behavior, we can change that.

We start by defining a strong foundation. Will you allow me to show that we should never fight? Once we accept that rule, we can speak a common success language. We are ready to concentrate on outcomes, not parties.

In case of setback

Now let’s tackle the “lost” election. Article 60, building on article 55, provided details of the adjustments needed when an election “goes the wrong way.” Society makes accommodations for coexistence of vastly different philosophies. Article 76 calls for constructive action instead of protest.

Is there any wonder why the world suffers rancor and dissention? Democracy, in particular, requires government to be the agreement of the people, not the tool by which some people control others. Tyranny of the majority is not rule of law. Ideally counting votes is an impartial and impersonal decision method. It never determines truth. Parties state their best cases and then let go of the question to await the counted result. After the count they learn and undertake their roles in the newly reorganized but united whole.

To have discord there must be a distinction between self and other—a choice between “us” and “them.” Voting cannot evaluate differences. It is only an unbiased outcome-selector (article 75). It works when it is neutral and unemotional.

Replace discord with “we”

Protest and demonstration look like asking other people to do something (article 57, article 76). Article 75 teaches the new social order where “the keywords of world peace are ‘we' and ‘together.’” It drops the group “others” and installs the group “we” in its place. That blending enables us to act. Having no control over others, we must enable the group called “we” through our deeds. For example, if there is a place in the US with maternal morbidity equal to that of third world countries, it is useless to say, “they should do something about that.” There is no defined “they” (other) to do the job. The effective cry is to say, “we are doing something about that.” Action expresses being in control and being successful. Article 56 lays that squarely at the feet of private parties.

Going into the streets, silently or shouting, can start conversation, but it is not action. It has two limitations: (a) if confrontational, it incites resistance such as defensiveness or backlash; (b) if educational, it falls short of exercising responsibility to obtain results. Effective activism supports doing the steps leading to success. Improving the world is not controlling others. It is coming together as “we” to choose and implement change together.

Once I discover that healthcare requires input from everyone and is most effectively funded collectively, it is wrong for me to approach the legislature to ask lawmakers to force my program on everyone. Social progress moves in the other direction: from the people to the government. If my idea is so good that other people will benefit from its advantages, it is up to me to share that idea among my peers. After our debates and refinements, we submit our model to leaders who specialize in codifying public policy. The will to do always remains with the public, not the government. In representative democracy the leaders are carrying out the will of the people. They do not command it. As a member of the public, I contribute to shaping public sentiment by being persuasive. I am not justified in influencing government to force public sentiment to my position.

The exuberance

The elusive “others” appear in two roles in the above paragraph. (a) I might look at leaders and try to persuade “them.” (b) I might look at fellow citizens and try to persuade “them.” Both approaches fail. Success comes when I, as a member of the body politic, participate in arriving at “we believe.” Once we blend self and other, when we see the body as “we,” social order emerges.

America is founded on the vision that political discourse is a tool of cooperation. Diverse viewpoints are heard in preparation for taking united action instead of breaking into chaos. Success is not overcoming by browbeating. Success is improving the lives of the people. We have come a long way down the road to including (not fighting) all people and our progress is accelerating.

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