Politics has always been a tough, but there's a viciousness to it now that is not healthy, and not sustainable.
Even worse, it's in danger of being accepted as "normal". It's not, and it's not OK.
In fat, I believe it's the most dangerous crisis we've ever faced as a Nation.
If you think I'm overstating the case, please consider this:
No other issue we face right now - not COVID, not Terrorism, not Social Issues - NONE of those things are too much for us to deal with IF we focus on finding the Best Answers.
If we choose to fight each other ABOUT them, instead of working ON them, we have no chance of finding the best answer.
If each fight becomes more savage and nasty than the last, what does the future look like?
American blood is on American soil over Masks.
("Masks" are just the excuse, of course -- a symptom of the problem we're here to address.)
So what can we do about it?
As much as I'd like to say, "Love is The Answer", I think some specifics might be helpful.
This website, and my upcoming book, "The Civility Plan" offers the following (greatly oversimplified) suggestions:
Step 1: Decide that Change is possible.
Step 2: A two-part process: 2A is not participating in the Negativity. 2B is encouraging Positivity.
Step 3: Encourage others to participate.
Rinse and Repeat.
Obviously, more details are in order, but that's The Plan, in a nutshell.
Step 1, for example, asks us to look Hopelessness directly in the eye, and reject it.
It asks us to remember that Opponents don't have to be Enemies.
It calls us to examine the Systems that tap into our most primitive impulses, feed them, and then feed off of them.
Step 2 offers a gentle "peeling away" of the habits that hurt, but feel familiar to us.
Those primitive impulses have been with us for thousands of years.
The Systems mentioned in Step 1 are using the most sophisticated tools, the most brilliant minds, and Nation-sized budgets to tap into our emotions and use that energy to raise money and to "fire up" their activists.
Just knowing that makes it easier to detach from it.
Step 3 is a gift we offer others.
From small things, like just being on the list, to conversations with friends and family, to inviting our politicians along.
We'll offer (and solicit) guidance about how to talk to The Passionate without confrontation.
In fact, we'll make all of this as easy as possible; the only goal here is to encourage Civility until it becomes customary.
At that point, Nasty behavior won't look so normal, and not nearly so acceptable.
Please check back in; I'll "flesh out" more details about these steps along the way.
What We Are NOT
We Are Not The Morality Police
We're not "calling people out" for their behavior; we're just Modeling what we want to see.
Not only is it rude, it won't work. Calling people Uncivil is still name-calling.
Also, by re-directing Passions we "subtract" it from the Negative, and "add" it to the Positive.
We Are Not Partisan.
This is NOT about any particular "Issue" - it's about the conversation itself.
Politics is a Spectrum - if either Extreme "wins"; our Country will be run by Extremists.
The objective is not to change anyone's mind; just the quality of the debate.
We Are Not Alone
There is a group IN CONGRESS that is actively working in this direction.
There are hundreds of websites dedicated to this; we'll add them here when we've "vetted" them.
The "Far Right" and the "Far Left" get plenty of attention, while those in the Middle feel left out, and stop trying.
They don't have expensive Lobbyists. Advertisers seek the most "engaged" audiences.
Imagine millions of voices saying to our Leadership: "We can do better."
Signing up for the newsletter is a great start. I promise to honor your Inbox.
Who Is Tony Barker?
I'm a Musician, a Speaker, and a strong believer in what America can be.
I'm the author of the upcoming book, "The Civility Plan".
I was born on an Air Force base, and signed up for an enlistment when the Hostages were in Iran.
It is my honor to be affiliated with Resolution Solutions, a Conflict Resolution, Communication Coaching, Mediation and Training company. Since 2018 our focus has been training First Responders in Trauma Informed Care, and Self Care.
(By the way, if you are, or know, a First Responder, please invite them to our Self Care Video. It's free, with our gratitude, and we're not selling anything.)
I also created a program for young people entering the workforce called, "Martial Arts In The Workplace".
It uses the non-combat aspects of Martial Arts (I'm a Black Belt in Kajukembo) -- Respect for the Institution, Delayed Gratification, Building a Strong Foundation, etc. -- to help the mental Transition from "school" thinking (where everything is for the benefit of the student) to "Team Member" thinking (where one is held accountable for contributions they make to the company).
I'm happy to come Speak to your company, school, or organization on any of these topics, or several others.
My own passion is to encourage Civility on a National level, but there are many aspects that are useful to individual groups.
To Conclude The Beginning
I know this is going to be hard. The second-most common response I get is ridicule.
(The most common, thankfully, is, "Yeah! We need this!")
Our Symbol is an American Eagle superimposed over a Red and Blue field that has blended into a beautiful Purple.
We need our Brothers and Sisters of both political parties; we just need them to tone it down a bit.
They're people, too, trying to keep their jobs, and they're affected by the same System that's Polarizing us for Profit.
That means that We, The People need to let them know that it's OK to "reach across the aisle".
Our Country was founded on the idea of government with the consent of the Governed.
This requires our leaders to earn - and keep - a degree of Trust. Our role is to insist on that.
Insults, and Demonizing the "other side" makes America weaker - not stronger.
May God Bless America, and help us preserve it for the next generation.
"If we do not change where we are heading, we will end up where we're going." - Lao Tzu