Greetings from Disneyworld! We just arrived here after 2 days at a leadership conference in Orlando. The conference was an awesome opportunity to hear several great speakers discussing radical ideas to have influence in our changing world.

Four hour later i’m riding a monorail in a fantasyland. This is my first time here, and it’s overwhelming. Too many choices! We’ll be here for three and a half days, and there’s no way to experience it all. It’s hard to reconcile the news of unemployment, poverty, and suffering in our news today with the luxury and unlimited riches on display here. Two thoughts:

1) Americans in general have had it so good for so long that we (I’m certainly one in that “we”) don’t know what real poverty and suffering looks or feels like;

2) It’s hard to believe our economy’s in terrible shape when you see how much we spend on having fun. Or is that part of the cause of our economy’s terrible shape?

Why are we so angry?

A quick glance at the cable news channels, the local newspaper website (what do we call it once they stop producing a paper?), a drive around town, or a conversation with co-workers, all seem to yield a similar underlying sentiment:

anger

Have you noticed it? Am I mischaracterizing it?

It took me a while to come up with this analysis, and I acknowledge that I may be incorrect. But, here are some examples:

-The nation’s response to our President’s recent statement about the actions of a police officer in New England.

-The response of some local forum commenters to an article about ConocoPhillips’ quarterly financial statement release (they were highly offended at the “dismal” returns of $1.3 billion-never mind that it was a return on investment of less than 4%)

-The response of many in my home state of Alaska, and throughout our nation, to our recently resigned Governor’s actions of, well, everything. For those of you who missed it, she stepped into the national spotlight about 8 months ago as the Republican candidate for VP. She was adored by half the country, and despised by half.

  • Many here were angry that she left the state to campaing for VP.
  • Upon her defeat, many were angry at her for returning to be Governor.
  • After a tumultuous half-year, she resigned from being Governor, angering many (including those who were angry at her for being Governor?).
  • After being elected in part on a promise of being open and transparent, she was chastized for having a private e-mail account that she apparently used to govern in private.
  • Upon establishing a Twitter account, she was chastized by many for sharing what she was thinking.

-The reaction of a local driver the other day, who after crossing three lanes of traffic to cut me off, made it a point to LEAN OVER TO THE PASSENGER SIDE WINDOW in order to ensure I saw his one-fingered salute when I changed lanes to pass him?

As you might be able to detect from my points above, I don’t approve of these examples. Am I angry? Yeah, kinda. I guess I’m frustrated, more than angry. Why are we so angry about everything?

Why?

Because we need more rational dialog, not irrational diatribes.

Let’s talk to one another about the things that are causing misunderstanding, dissention, anger, fear, …

I’ve never read Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, but his quote (in the tag line at the top) has stuck with me. It’s Habit 5. A few points, if you don’t want to follow the link: Communication is critically important in almost everything we do, and most of us start by valuing our own position so much, that we want to make sure everyone else understands (and agrees with it).

I’m probablly the worst offender, but at least I’m aware of it, and will try to address it.

Back to “Why?”

My overarching goal is to get us all talking with one another. Not shouting at one another, not labeling, classifying, and condemning.

Mankind is the most complex being God created. Through the course of history, man has developed rich language to convey all the nuances of what is going on in our complex minds. We’re built to have relationships, with one another, and with God. The history of man is a history of advancing our ability to communicate, to relate, and to understand one another and God.

The last 20 years in America seems to be headed the opposite way. We try to capture complex thoughts in “sound bites”. We have taken most publications to the “People magazine” theory–reduce every concept to a story that can easily be read in one bathroom sitting (without your legs going to sleep). We try to distill complex social or economic problems to what can be fit into a 90 second debate response, or a 2.5 minute “feature story” on TV news.

The Lincoln-Douglas Senate debates of 1858 had the first candidate speak for an hour, followed by the opponent’s 90 minute response, followed by the first speaker’s 30 minute rejoinder! 3 hour debates! Seven of them! And newspapers across the nation printed complete transcripts. The primary topic of each was slavery. These two Senate candidates talked for over 21 hours primarily on ONE topic.

The issues facing our world today are arguably much more complex (not more important, but more complex) than slavery, but our politicians, our media, nor the general public are engaging in meaningful dialog. How can we hope to resolve issues if we don’t even take the time to understand them? What little time we do spend addressing them is focused with laser-like intensity on advancing our own positions.

I hope to change that. Here. And by doing so, I hope to change the world, to make it a better place. Pretty tall order, I know. Most would say “impossible”. But I serve a pretty big God. With him, all things are possible. I’m just availing myself to Him as a willing vessel, to be used for his purpose (hopefully while surpressing my own purposes and agendas!).

Plus, healthy, challenging, thought-provoking dialog is FUN!