November 12, 2022- “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate….”-Strother Martin, as Captain, in “Cool Hand Luke”.
I was raised to be clear in my communication with others, to not be ambiguous. As long as I have been faithful to that childhood teaching, things have gone quite well. I have, in all honesty, only been deeply, viscerally hated by someone, three times in my life. All three came from lapses of communication-either failure to listen, from stubbornness despite getting the message or from not being direct in my messaging.
I thought of this, while having lunch at a local diner, and hearing a familiar litany of complaints about our state’s leadership. It occurs to me that, while the goal of many is to increase inclusivity in the life of the community, the process is missing its target-either because the reformers are still playing the same zero sum game that got us into trouble in the first place or because they have something to hide. I am not much for conspiracy theories, so my money is on the former.
The zero sum gambit, in this case, is that conservatives have to give up something so that the historically marginalized, the cast-offs, can get what’s theirs. Zero sum games, whether played by the Right or by the Left, generate push back from those left out.
What if there is actually enough to go around? What if the problem is one of distribution, and not one of supply? The answers to these questions do not fall on the descendants of the enslaved, the small farmers, the overseers or the middle class townspeople. They do not fall to the First Nations people who were driven before the homesteaders, nor to the homesteaders themselves. They do not fall to the immigrants and their descendants. They fall instead to those who devised the system based on zero sum philosophy. Was their goal, is their goal still, to build a society that will primarily benefit the few? There are those who will freely admit that is the case, while chortling at how good their lot in life is, as a result. There are still others who nervously, even heatedly, deny any ill intent. Yet, those who are hearing them are not fooled. Some feel powerless; others feel a need to lash out and attack-even physically. Yet, there are those of us who see through all of it and know who the wire pullers are.
What we have here is failure to honestly communicate. The time when that tactic stops working is close at hand. People across the spectrum are learning to speak with one another, civilly and honestly. They are comparing notes and building plans that will benefit one and all, not just a few.
Perhaps that’s why we can trust in an optimistic view.