Mission accomplished

You did it!

That book you always wanted to write, it’s done.

The business you started is now thriving.

The habit you wanted to kick is gone.

Now?

Start something else.

Today.

The work is never done.

That is what professionals do.

Keep going.

Incompetence

They say that a person is smart and people are dumb.

That’s because everyone views themselves as a rational actor.

Our narrative has us believe that we are victims of outside forces—circumstances out of our control that has led to our shortcomings.

Yet, people are simply not as malicious as we think they are.

We develop stories and watch for the behavior to amplify it.

Incompetence is the narrative about how others inconvenience us.

Closing gaps

Einstein said that compound interest was the eighth wonder of the world.

If it works in your favor, it can be a wonderful thing. 2 dollars turns to 5 dollars, then to 10 dollars, and then to 100, and so on.

If you are on the debt side of this equation it is almost impossible to get out. However, consumer debt isn’t the only debt system we have created over the years. There is also intellectual debt.

Intellectual debt is this idea that we trust the system that has been built once we have seen how it works and ignore why it works. And like any other debt system, it grows exponentially. So, if you are not paying attention you can get lost in the noise rather quicky.

So, what is going on right now? What do people mean when they say that the system is working exactly how it was designed to be?

Let’s go back a couple hundred years when the 13th amendment was ratified after the Civil War. It states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Emphasis is mine. That’s sentence is a problem though because once we introduce this into the structure you now have a loophole that policymakers can exploit. And that is what has been happening for a long time keeping the cancer of slavery alive.

Since 1865, we have moved from slavery to convict leasing to disenfranchisement to Jim Crowe and to the modern problems of today. Mainly, declaring the war on drugs as a criminal problem instead of mental health issue, the prison industrial complex and the militarization of police forces.

The data is completely clear. 1 and 3 black Americans will be incarcerated in their lifetime. By contrast, 1 and 17 white Americans will be incarcerated.

The gap is simply too large for anyone born without advantage to ever catch up anymore. We may not have built the system but too many of us have benefited from it.

We cannot stand in ignorance any longer. We have to see why the system is working this way in order to change it. Now is the time.

HT 13th.

Vietnam War media parallels

In the 1950s, there were only 9% of American homes that owned a television. But by 1966, that figure spiked to 93%.

What’s important to understand here is that 58% of US citizens said that they “got most of their news” from television.

This is why television became the most important source of news for American people during the Vietnam era.

And that continued for a long time after. Until smart phones.

According to the Pew Research Center, 55% of U.S. adults now get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes”. This means the medium has shifted in how we consume our news in the last ten years or so (no surprise).

We are now seeing live coverage of conflicts with police and protesters. For many, this is the first we have seen such coverage like this for the masses.

It is the same as dropping a TV into people’s living room for the first time.

It isn’t difficult to find footage of someone dying on the internet. That shock is powerful. Powerful enough to spark a movement, to get people off the sidelines.

We have got to be careful and be sensitive about this type of content. The social media rules on this hasn’t been written. More importantly, we don’t want people dying in vain. The cause is too important.

Media played a huge role in public opinion with the Vietnam War. Now, we are the media. You are a news channel and you can help shape the narrative going forward.

We must understand, once we know someone personally who has been affected by racism, we are more inclined to act.

Share your story so we can hear your voice.

Emotional risk

There are plenty of incidents where police have escalated protests. There are reports of radical groups doing this too.

At this point, many of us have already made up our minds about the protests.

But to the few on the fence:

It is difficult to separate the shadows from the light. No matter how long you stay glued to your screen. You just can’t.

However…

You can instead ask the question What are they saying that I am not hearing?

Listen and resist the urge to rebuttal. Can you sit with that tension?

Because that is real vulnerability. That is what emotional risk is.

Do you have the guts to do that? To not say anything and just listen?

Dear white people

It appears that this is what escalated the Salt Lake City Protests this week. (You can also watch him brandish a knife.) Somehow this person gets interviewed by Fox afterwards and starts spinning the story. At the time of writing this post, he has not been detained.

Let’s be clear here, this is not a few people misbehaving, this is a systematic problem. Systems are what set the guardrails on how people operate. But…

The system is not broken. It was built this way.

At the center of this is white privilege. The kind of privilege where you can go about your day and not be able to see that there is a problem.

Back in 2013, we saw a tipping point when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free. Since then, we have seen grass-roots organizations like Black Lives Matter stand up to change things.

Which has paved the path for other groups like Me Too, Occupy, Sunrise…

We can’t have things stay the same. The data is too bleak (from redlining to mass incarcerations). When white people rebuttal and say all lives matter. Yes, they do. That is already implied.

And

This isn’t about you right now. We are talking members of the black community who are in pain and you are ignoring it with this kind of comment. 

The problem with advantage is that after a while, you get used to it. It goes to our heads rather quickly too. Born on third base, thinks they hit a triple.

Instead, sit with that tension when someone who has experienced real pain about living with disadvantages because of the color of their skin.

Sit with it before you try to dismiss that uncomfortable feeling. That is what vulnerability is: Emotional risk.

Vulnerability leads us to empathy. Empathy leads to change.

Motivated reasoning

In 1973, Richard Nixon was sitting at 67% approval rating just after his inauguration.

Not much later after the trials of the Pentagon Papers began and after the story of Watergate had broken through, his approval rating plummeted to 25%.

The question is, who was the 25% that was still approving how things were done?

It turns out, not only do we sort people, we sort through ideas and beliefs.

Motivated reasoning is this idea that we “tend to find arguments in favor of conclusions we want to believe to be stronger than arguments for conclusions we do not want to believe.”

In other words, we pick a person or position and then we are likely to stick with it. Any information is then sorted to fit the narrative. Over time, as we sort and sort, we create a louder echo chamber.

During this struggle of Coronavirus, an event that has clearly been fueled by fear and politics, there have been clear lines drawn. Do you stand with Republicans or Democrats? Science or faith? Are you more worried about the economy or epidemiology? Do you trust the government or not?

The problem with this or that is this is no longer dissecting the information to find a conclusion. No, this has turned into why someone has chosen something different from me.

We are not data-driven (even if we think so), we are emotionally charged.

Yet, it’s possible to be following the science and find a way to open things up. It’s possible to practice social distancing and to protect our liberties. It’s possible to suspend normal behavior and collect more data.

There is a third choice in this mess. We can toe the line of this and that.

Once we pick a side, we often give that narrative the benefit of the doubt. You are not choosing between right or wrong here. We are all on the same team regardless of what side of the line you choose to stand.

HT Ezra Klien

One step further

When is the last time a tweet changed our minds?

They don’t. Which is why social media activism is not action.

It’s the first step is sending a signal to others about what team you are cheering for. Perhaps, it can help you find the others who feel the same way you do.

Real action, however, looks like:

Pulling out your wallet and making a monthly donation.

Organizing a speaking event or rally.

Attending a non-violent protest.

See something, say something.

Holding the space to have a difficult conversation.

Calling a legislator.

Voting.

Reading a book on the history of the subject.

Starting a non-profit.

Be compassionate to non-compassionate people.

Show up week after week.

Action is when you’re willing to take it one step further past your comfort zone. Because it isn’t about your comfort right now. It is about someone else’s.

Experience-based education

When someone wants to learn how to play basketball, you don’t hand them a history book of the sport.

No, you give them a basketball, go to a court and start shooting.

Little by little, you make the challenge a little more complex. Explain the rules, teach them how to dribble, where to stand, what to aim for…

This is the ideal model for education: Experience.

Experience is something we all crave for. This is why when we find something that we are truly passionate about, we are engaged.

Schooling is the complete opposite. Schooling requires us to follow instructions, do what we are told, memorize what is on the test, get an A, repeat. No wonder students are not enrolled in the process.

Your education is separate from schooling. With each experience, we become more educated.

What do we pay attention to?

Every day, you can pull up Twitter and find that the world is falling apart.

Except, if we are choosing to focus our attention on the negative, we are ignoring all the good things that are happening all around us.

The same can be said in our lives. We wake up and choose to focus on the good things that are happening or the stuff that we perceive is bad.

An interesting word in all of this is pay. What do we pay attention to? Our attention is finite. You get what you pay for. Choose wisely.