Saturday Iced Mocha — Anyone have politics on the brain?

Despite knowing it’s a counterproductive standard, I’m feeling the pressure to ensure this first Saturday Iced Mocha is profound. I remind myself that the goals are to foster better connections and learn with my community, which will take authentically sharing pieces of my mind; by definition this should translate into very little that’s actually profound and very much that wanders between topics, sometimes tying them together. I’m going to start with something top of mind for many, politics.

Recognizing my increasing frustration with the current political climate, instead of staying stuck in cynicism, I’ve been attempting to more positively reflect on embracing the qualities that make us human. When successful, I do this by recognizing, that despite my lack of understanding of how people can reach such disparate conclusions when presented with the same data points, it often ties back to connection or the lack of connection and the human condition of wanting to be correct and accepted. It’s not new that the significant differences in experiences starting with family life and radiating outward to friends, local communities, regions, etc. lead to vastly different perspectives. While technology has made different perspectives much more accessible, many are noting that the rise of social media may instead be contributing to staying even more insular, an argument being put more aggressively to Facebook after this election.

Depending upon one’s viewpoint, it’s easy to be taken aback by or pulled into the confident rhetoric coming out of political pundits and their surrogates when discussing complex issues that typically don’t have easy explanations or solutions. We often easily slide into accepting or rejecting what we hear based upon our own connections and tribal tendencies. I think we need to figure out how larger communities can create broader connections to help us understand that complexity is indeed present and we shouldn’t so easily accept what’s “logical” to our personal set of experiences. A large problem with the current easy access to so much information is the lack of accountability for the veracity of information, a topic I expect I’ll come back to in another Iced Mocha. Problems are usually problems because they are hard, in other words, there aren’t easy solutions.

I have been asked by a few people what I think of the election. My overall feeling is one of disappointment, as the election makes me confront just how divided the country truly is. This sentiment would have been present regardless of the winner, but it’s a bit stronger now that I’m witnessing how many Trump supporters view his “mandate” as strong while we have a country that’s likely as divided as it’s been in a long time. I consider myself firmly independent, thinking both establishment parties get economics and incentives massively wrong. Historically, I vote more consistently for democrats because I often find their candidates come closer to my views on social issues, which can be summarized as generally wanting to keep the government out of people’s personal lives.

I do not have unbridled optimism in the free markets nor an expectation that the government has any real competency at allocating capital and providing great service. I think both political parties share a lot of blame and my disappointment manifests in recognizing that we, the voters and non-voters, are the political parties, the buyers of the cheapest products possible, and the massive consumers of stuff, including heavy amounts of media and entertainment. If we’re complaining, we should start by looking in the mirror and thinking about what our values truly are and how closely to those values we live. I know I have a lot of room for improvement. Hypocrisy is ever present and until we recognize it in ourselves, it’s difficult to address the deeper issues.

I also recognize I’m incredibly fortunate to have been born in the 1970s as a white male in the United States to parents that placed a high value on education and acceptance. Rightly or wrongly (sorry ancestors), this election marks the first time in my life that I openly wonder whether my Jewish ancestry that is now shared with my kids (and my wife in taking my last name) is potentially going to lead to my kids dealing with discrimination that I’ve never noticed the effects of. In historical context, the fact I have so rarely considered such things, in terms of being personally impacted, is in itself a reflection on how privileged my life has been growing up in this country with the support I’ve had. Going way off topic for a moment, perhaps one solution to our toxic political environment is forcing everyone to start a gratitude practice? To fit with my beliefs, I should say “strongly encourage” rather than force.

There are many threads I plan to pick up from this musing. Upon my review, it’s a bit scattered and many of the sentences beg for more, yet I want to keep these somewhat brief. As I finish off this Iced Mocha, I’m going to copy from my introductory note.

If you’d rather not hear from me, please simply let me know and I’ll take you off this preliminary email list. My goal is to encourage discussion, so in addition to this email with recipients bcc’d, I will put my musings on Medium (Josh’s Medium Page) for others to comment and hopefully create a broader connection. Also, don’t hesitate to respond to me directly. I have a lot of confidence that the people receiving this will have interesting perspectives, often much more so than mine, to support the goal of broadened horizons and connections.

Please feel free to share Saturday Iced Mocha with others on Medium (Josh’s Medium Page) and I will also add to the recipient email list if there are requests to do so.