Desegregating our Tribal-Moral Communities: A Plan to Bridge the Divide
Aims and Aspirations: Making our Country, our Communities, our Alternate Media, and our Universities “Living Laboratories of Discussion”
In a time of great dehumanization across demographic, political, religious, ideological and racial lines, perhaps two defining items should guide us in how we move forward as a Nation, and as a society:
Closing the Empathy Gap, by Building a Bridge of Conversation between polarized groups
Actively Tear Down Taboos of Conversation (and the ‘Taboos of Association and Agreement’) between Polarized Groups
Imagine two people sitting down, discussing their backstories and inner lives, and trying to imagine ‘what it is like’ to be the other person. To walk in their shoes. And then, connecting with more and more people from the ‘other group’, as their spheres of inclusion is expanded and their moral and intellectual horizons broadened.
What is critical here is the ability to invoke moral imagination, to ‘imagine what it’s like to be that person’ — essentially, to walk in their shoes. This helps close the empathy gap by lessening the distance between ‘us’ and ‘them’, thus making people outside our inner circle (or ‘sphere of moral inclusion’) less likely to be demonized, dismissed or viewed as enemies, and more likely to be brought into our circles of human concern. We expand our desire to extend empathy and concern to more and more people, we have a better society for more and more people. This is key in facilitating the Nonzero — the cooperative arrangement in which all parties are better off.
What are our tools to accomplish all of this? What can guide us as we crowd-source the many pieces to a roadmap ahead?
Here is a summary of how we can do all this: It would be about crowdsourcing the best ideas, models and creative and innovative tools for teaching critical thinking, especially to the next Generation. The focus would be how we can inculcate critical thinking across our schools, our prisons, and within our neighborhoods and communities, in ways which work with local residents and community-builders, from the ground up. In an arms race of critical thinking and Socratic discussion, pedagogy, and technological innovation, it would be a true bottom-up approach, from the streets of Brooklyn and Atlanta to the Mid-West and to the reaches of Los Angles and Portland, Oregon.
Let’s all have a friendly ‘arms race of reason and compassion’ from the universities, organizations and thought communities in each of our major (or minor) cities. I’m betting on my city of New York. Perhaps the freethought, activism and science communities in other places like Caltech and Portland can take that as a friendly challenge
Additionally, in the spirit of a Reason Revival, we should set these among our highest goals:
Standing up to false dichotomies, unfounded binary thinking, dogma and tribalism within our political discourse, in all its forms
Amplifying the voices of moderates and freethinkers in the ‘center’, and especially of reformers from within the Left and the Right
Promoting a bigger role for reason, skepticism, and science within our society and our political culture
Empowering alternative media, in every way we can, to stand up as an alternative to the status quo of mainstream soundbite culture
To empower and lift up every pocket of science and skepticism within our poor communities, our rural landscapes, and our towns and cities.
To give a voice and a platform to every person and movement that seeks to respectfully and responsibly advocate and articulate science and reason over political ideology, from the university to the Internet. Crowdsourcing YouTube videos, essays, books, and ideas.
To build productive and lively relationships with artists, musicians, actors and actresses, models, and general celebrities
What will all of this accomplish?
Given the right tools and support, it would involve filming and sharing hundreds of public conversations between different ‘political and moral tribes’, across partisanship, ideology, race and income. Here is a short articulation of this idea, from a YouTube video:
“A Science of Common Ground across the American Landscape” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndpmXoYkCSc
Nationally, and perhaps even globally, it will encourage a New Solidarity between reasoned, compassionate freethinkers on both sides of the political spectrum. This will lead to a convergence of humanizing discussion across race, ideology and demographics, and perhaps foster a radical re-alignment of our core values:
-Science and reason vs tribalism and dogmatism
-Human dignity vs the suppression of human dignity, from any side
It is time we decide what we truly value, and what is truly most important to us.
A Closing Statement, in Solidarity with political freethinkers across America
About the Author
Organization: Reason Revival (founder)