Friday, January 11, 2013

#FollowFriday Having conversations that matter.

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."   --Martin Luther King, Jr. 

A lot of the reading, writing, and thinking I've been doing of late has revolved around a theme that has been hard to put my finger on.  

Its a theme which has started coming to fruition online in the form of blog posts (such as rebuilding our trust in reason and civic discourse,Epictetus, Jeffery Sachs, and what you can do to protect Social Security , and the mark of a sentient human being....  ) and a recent podcast interview I did Alan Essig, the Executive Director of the Georgia Budget and Policy on the upcoming Legislative session here in Georgia.

In my real world organizing work as a union steward this theme has started to appear to me in the efforts to rebuild the union power on my shift at work.  These efforts have been long term and have often felt fruitless but have started gain steam over the past few months in a very real way.  Some of our political action committe's work has appeared on this blog of late with posts like "Obama wants to do what!?!?!?!?!?" and But it's only a sliver on a graph!--Or why liberal technocrats are wrong on Social Security which circled around the moblization efforts we took on to try to stop Obama and the Republican's from cutting social security.

I realized yesterday that this theme is really about our need as a society to start having conversations that matter. 

We face very real challenges in our society.  From the employment crisis to gun violence, from the war on workers by the 1% to things which quite frankly seem like very basic tasks which we should all agree to make happen yet can't quite solve by ourselves.  Tasks such as educating our kids, being able to go to the Doctor when we are sick, or feeling safe in our own homes; the world seems to be in disarray.  

Around me, in friends and family, coworkers and classmates I see a lot of fear and unease, a lot of anger and frustration.

A lot of politicians and talking heads are providing ease answers and quick fixes.  What I like to call: Feels good, sounds good, politics.  But this is only feeding the flames and further eroding the social fabric.

The solution is right in front of us and is going on around us all the time.  We just have to start recognizing it and nurturing it in ourselves and others.

So throughout the day today and on many Fridays to come I will be utilizing my #FollowFriday hashtag to those in this world whom I have seen participating in the very important task of having conversations that matter.

The challenges we face as a society will not solve themselves.  We have to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of reading, thinking, discussing, and debating--with both friend and so called "foe"--to come up with solutions.  

No one will do it for us and twitter gives us the perfect tool to undermine many of the barriers of bureaucracy,  time, and geography which have historically made these questions of social policy a lot harder to overcome and navigate.

I've always said I don't believe that twitter will radically change the world, but I do believe in the hopes, dreams, and human capacities of many of the people on twitter, and in their ability to harness this tool to do the seemingly impossible.  

So, by all means, lets be realistic and demand the impossible as my more radical friends often urge.  

But lets do so not in some abstract manner but via very real and thoughtful efforts in our everyday lives to engage in conversations that matter.

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