If you consider yourself left or right leaning, a progressive, liberal or a conservative, a social justice activist or a libertarian, of the status quo or the avant garde please take a moment to consider something vitally important:
You’re missing something.
Yes that’s right your political identity may well hold compelling answers and strategies for the economy or culture. You may have an outstanding IQ or a doctorate in political science. You may well be prepared to battle for your values or ideology. I don’t care. I have to break it to you. It’s not enough. You may have some short term success but in the long run it won’t work. It won’t prevail.
Not only that but this habit of holding on to your views as supreme, as being right whilst the other poor idiots are wrong is a toxic addiction. Hold on to it tightly and it will diminish or destroy you. And collectively if enough of us do the same it will destroy us all. We’re faced with big global crises. You know that. We’re divided and incapacitated and yet we hang on, stuck in our damned warring political tribes. WE’RE MISSING SOMETHING.
So what is it that I or we are missing? I hear you say. I’m so glad you asked. I’ll tell you.
Your point of view is just that. One point amongst many. It’s partial. You don’t see the whole picture. Your ideology and your values are a framework through which you see reality. They are not reality in its totality. You as a single human being are too small a unit to grasp the bigger picture. Whatever you pursue in terms of your limited vision will always come up short.
OK so what does that mean? I think and do nothing? I give up my convictions?
Hell No! On the contrary your views and perspectives (whatever they may be) have deep intrinsic value. But if your views triumph and suppress others, for example by bullying, by overpowering persuasion or by winning a majority vote then enacting your limited perspectives will inevitably create limited outcomes.
So here’s the bitter pill to swallow: Lefties you NEED the Righties, Progressives your progress will require Conservatives to find stability. One view wants to dismantle oppressive structures whilst the other wants to preserve the structure because for goodness sakes at least something here is working! What you see has some truth. To get a complete picture you need others who are looking at things from different angles.
We’re all just bit part actors in an epic performance. But our individuality is vital. The quicker we learn that the better. Our views, arguments and ideas must collide, engage in intercourse and produce new ways forward that integrate and synergise our difference. Enter into dialogue, stay true to who you are, don’t back down or compromise, stay connected amidst the tension that will inevitably ensue.
I repeat stay connected because this tension is destructive if handled incorrectly. It often goes that way because in 2017 we’re still babies at this game. Picture politicians of blue or red shouting at each other across the parliamentary or congress floor. Their tension is only resolved in majority votes and crushing dissent. Until the next chance for revenge comes along… Egos get their kicks, yet no one is deeply satisfied.
So Progressives, Conservatives know that YOU ARE MISSING SOMETHING that can be found in your opponent. So engage in fierce but respectful dialogue until you all emerge transformed. But don’t stop there. When you get it. When you know your own partiality to be true, you’ll want to change the game itself. You’ll see it’s no longer one of winners and losers but about playing the game fully and being transformed by your opponents.
You’ll want to change the rules so that everybody gets to play and create beautiful synergistic outcomes that are appropriate for each situation, each locality and nation. Whilst you remain true to your core values, maybe in the progressives you’ll recognise their desire to move forward, or in the conservatives the desire for stability and what’s working, or in the activists the desire for justice and well being for all.
This is the way our unique individuality informs a wholesome and functioning collective.
This is what you’re missing when you get stuck in your own political values.
Let’s change this game and try something new.
What could that “new” look like? Well there’s a world of ways to creatively use our differences, our conflicts, and the disturbances we create with each other and our world.
This is my own personal calling: finding, documenting and promoting ways we can make good lemonade out of all the bitter lemons we’re throw at each other and wasting. So if you want to look into ways to do this check out the wise democracy pattern language for hundreds of approaches to being more powerfully, productively different together.
And if you have ideas or your own stories to share about your own experiences of creative transformation of conflict I’d love to hear from you. So get in touch!
Andy Paice is London based Coach, Facilitator and Mindfulness trainer. The focus of his work/play is facilitating and catalysing new ways of working and living that are fit for the realities of the 21st century. One of his major passions is the creation of participatory democracy initiatives and amplifying awareness of new politics through the
Reinventing Democracy YouTube channel . He teaches Mindfulness in community and corporate settings and facilitates community meetings. Andy is passionate about authentic human connection and the emerging collaborative commons paradigm. Prior to these activities he lived and practised as a monastic in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in France from 1998-2007 where he accomplished a traditional three-year group meditation retreat. In his spare time he enjoys Contact Improvisation dancing, eating curry and running From Me to We a meetup group he created. You can check out his website www.andypaice.net and follow him on Twitter @andypaice