It’s important to admit, confront and address the challenges and problems you have, if you wish to resolve them. As a country, in the collective conscious, it’s equally important that problems are discussed and confronted. Too often, and more often than ever, problems that are the result of our own behavior are not given any air time, because they are unpopular, and involve us taking responsibility. And it is the bravery required to correct and address many of the challenges we face as a nation.
If I were to narrow down a cultural challenge in America that we can solve as individuals it would be this:
We are more vocal and less active than ever.
By vocal, I refer specifically to the ephemeral fleeting expressions, that are not kept, do not last, and are lost in the feed forever. We are quick to post an update or a tweet, to say something in the fervor of outrage or sensationalism, but we are slow (slower than ever) to create authentic content, art, share a full opinion, express ourselves in a way that lasts longer than a moment and gives communities time to process, discuss, grow, pivot, and adapt. We are louder than ever but have much less to say, and much of it not reflective of our most thoughtful states of mind.
How about a little less talk and a lot more action?
When it comes to our expressions, it’s here today, gone today – in the blink of an eye. What is worse is that this form of expression is extremely unsatisfying. If you’re feeling depressed despite your tweets and updates it’s because your better angels know full well you have the capability to do more, to meet our needs, to explore possible solutions, to express ourselves in more meaningful ways, to apply your will to take action.
And this is a simple problem, a dysfunctional dynamic we can totally resolve.
The impact of this is felt across every star and stripe and aspect of our culture as a country.
We complain about more than ever and cover fewer miles. We quite literally sit and watch things unfold and comment on them as if it is meaningful participation then we complain about how unfulfilled we feel.
More Pictures Fewer Stories
We take pictures of ourselves but tell fewer stories. The narratives of our lives read like basic children’s books. We introduce ourselves with barely a background and expect others to care and be interested. This is me at the pool. This is me in the desert. This is me at the beach. This is me at the store. This is me on vacation. There’s little artistic expression, less authentic story telling, and little to no added context action, plot, drama, or meaningful happening. So it’s no wonder, that we’ve ignore the mind numbing visual expressions flooding our feeds these days.
Banning Individual Achievement To Make Everyone a Winner
We claim to aspire to achievement, but together, like crabs in a bucket seek to knock down and label those who achieve anything. We knock down and try to rob winners. We take a way trophies by arguing that everyone “deserves” one and if they find treasure we feel it fair to ask them to “redistribute it” among us- though we did nothing to earn it, and secretly seek our own treasure that we wouldn’t want to distribute or share equally.
Deny Solutions That Work Because They Require Effort
We whine and ask others to fight our battles and meet our challenges with solutions. We cry for viable solutions to our problems and when presented with them we make excuses for not working them to make them work.
Demonizing Debate and Discussion as Bullying
We’ve made it popular to avoid conflict and demonized debate, and considerate discussion. As a result we have lost an important skillset and educational tool, and have suffered as a result. We want work life balance but many choose not to work to achieve it at all, just expect it handed to us. And the outcry started from a sincere conflict the bleeding and cyber bullying of work invading our personal lives unchecked and without boundary or limit. We want work life balance but few stand up to set and protect healthy and reasonable boundaries. We have lost ground at work and in the economy- now both parents are required to work and expected to be available via the phone and web around the clock. And we whine about it but take little action there too. We are more vocal and less active than ever.
Blame It On the Youth
We complain about the performance, behavior and attitudes of adults, who were children raised by us, absentee working parents, and absentee siblings, but as parents and siblings take no responsibility for our absence. We try to shoulder the burden created by our past actions by blaming the younger generations and holding them responsible for problems created by our past actions.
Group Think & The Stupidity of The Crowd
Somewhere we promoted the idea and outsorced our own judgement to the masses, believing that simply by numbers of people alone, we’d have better ideas. We rely on the wisdom of ever less informed, less educated, and thus dumber and more biased crowds who are quickly swayed by outrage and sensationalism. We cannot argue points of merit- and complain those that do are behaving unfairly. We’ve created and celebrated committees as a viable means of production but who so often fail to meet the missions they claim to serve, and problems they were brought to solve. The committee mindset creates an atmosphere of social bullying and position to achieve “group think”, pushing out good, merit-based ideas in favor of solutions that while emotionally validating for committee members, are not viable fit to resolve the problem.
Business & Entrepreneurship
In business and entrepreneurship, as towns and cities, we promote ideas that are locally fascinating, but nationally and globally inferior, or otherwise not viable. We flood local papers and news updates with business ideas that cannot possibly compete with a global economy, or survive the larger market conditions they’re designed to address. We’re celebrating losers to revel in the hype, instead of raising the bar to a standard of escape velocity and true value creation. At the local level, we’re trying to convince ourselves that dingies are sea worthy and capable of crossing oceans, and ignoring each one as it sinks.
Politics and the Uninformed Electorate
We complain about our politicians but can not be bothered to analyze or think critically about their policies or programs or even read, study or remember the constitution or the social agreements and reasons our nation was formed or based under.
We read more headlines, yet less information than ever, fewer books or full articles than ever. We claim to desire and value education for ourselves and our society. And we demand more of it, while our libraries are left empty and the web is used primarily on filling time between outrage and boredom with an endless supply of distractions. We struggle to face the fact that the means of improving our position and elevating our lives lay just down the street or in the palms of our hands. We are in a state of denial of our own empowerment.
We want things to be easier, we want to have less suffering, but we do little to improve ourselves and over emphasize our A for effort of “trying”. We focus on achieving the label of “trying” instead of “doing”.
“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” – Winston Churchill
We are not one generation. We are old and young, every color and creed. We’re Americans and we can be a Stronger people, a smarter people. We are a more capable people but we are denying our own power out of fear and laziness.
These issues and challenges are our challenges. They are within our power and influence to address. We need not wait until conscensus to build little habits, perform corrective actions, mentor, guide, inform, discuss, and honor the values we claim to practice. It is within our power and influence as individuals to create, enforce and support healthy boundaries, meaningful work, deeper relationships and use more of this awesome technology to study, to be informed, to filter, prune and pair down to what matters and use it improve our lives. It requires the choice and will to do so as individuals, friends, siblings, parents, families, communities, tribes and society on the whole.
It’s time to be brave again. Be brave now.
We can frame a solution, by reversing the 80/20 ratio of time, energy, and attention spent on being vocal and less active. If we were more active and involved in our own lives, and spent less time in the fuss and chorus of suffering, what solutions might we have? What incremental improvements might we achieve? What new ideas might form? What new businesses and empires and families and activities might arise? What dreams may come from such a ratio?
“Hope lies in bravery and we need hope.” -King Cylus in the show “Kings” a modern retelling of the story of King David