Describes how voids of character and apathy are the root causes for why political parties have been able to polarize America. 116 pages
• Are you tired of the politicians pitching you vapor balls loaded with solutions that are "what's in it for them"?
• Are you tired of intentional divisiveness and would like to have a more complete dialogue?
• Do you think that apathy may have influenced an acceptance of political polarization in America?
• Do you think that we can no longer look the other way and that perhaps we should adopt more individual responsibility to help solve our American problems?
There is a movement afoot to seek meaningful and lasting change in hopes of saving the American Dream. Some people believe that polarizing voters or loud whining will be adequate to the task, but neither of those strategies has worked for decades, so just maybe it's time to try something new.
CHAPTER 1: BUT I BELIEVED YOU!
• They told me if I got an MBA from a top school, my success would be virtually assured. I believed them.
• They told me if I went to an Ivy, my life would be enriched and that I should not worry about taking out student loans. I believed them.
• They told me if only I started a business for myself, I would be my own boss. I believed them.
• They told me if only I got a government job with a defined benefit pension, my retirement income would be certain. I believed them.
• They told me if I followed my executive contract and filed a report to help protect a woman when she complained about harassment that I would be protected from retaliation. I believed them.
• They told me if I gave my time to social causes that I would be surrounded by people with ethics and morals. I believed them.
• They told me if someone gave deposition testimony, they would tell the truth. I believed them.
• They told me "the (big) money will come". I believed them.
As of today, they all lied in one way or another.
You are welcome to think that it was just my naiveté operating at each step, and maybe that they lied should not matter in and of itself, but the problem for you, your children, and your grandchildren is that they do not care that they lied, distorted, misrepresented, or out and out covered their butts, legally or illegally.
What did I learn? While I had suspected it for some time, these experiences confirmed for me that this country is suffering under the disease of apathy through voids in character. In other words, we have a huge and growing void where character should exist.
It is a poisonous assault on our civilization and the American Dream from within: one unethical person sliding down the slippery slope at a time, supported by other unethical people turning the other way or doing nothing even when legally required to take action. In aggregate, this erosion has had large social, economic, and political impacts.
Simply said, I believe America is destroying itself because we accept apathy and dishonesty from one another as the coin of the realm: by allowing a little bit of lying or cheating or distorting as an acceptable part of our daily transactions; by breathing in and out the phrase "so what?!" and "what's in it for me?".
It's my reasoned opinion, after seeing a lot of really outrageous things happen, in politics and work environments, that many people rationalize behaving badly as fully justifiable in terms of reaching the American Dream. They lack worry about their own unethical or gray-area behavior if their lives remain unaffected as a result of the way their decisions impact others.
While this book is intended for everyone, I hope a good number of managers, college students, and people in the middle-upper class, take time to hear me out. If we are to seek change or be the change, it's my contention that one of the fastest ways to do so is to request of those who have or likely will have some economic and political power to reconsider how they operate.
How managers and high net worth people treat those "under them" is highly impactful, because their behaviors and decisions both ripple through the organizations they run and the causes they support, and influence the people who admire them. College graduates are the managers and middle-upper class people of tomorrow, and to the extent that this book says a lot about the future, it is hit right up their middle.
However, this is not a book intended to trash the people in charge or beat up on one political side more than the other. To be clear, I do go after the political parties strongly here, but it's in the context that their polarization is the problem; finding ways to reach compromise is the solution.
In sum, I ask you to consider that it is our task as Americans to admit that no one political position alone can solve our challenges, and instead, that we seek a problem solving orientation, for I believe that doing so might just be the only way out of the mess we are in.
I think I've seen just about all the hypocrisy possible, but I promise you this is not a book that whines about my life. Somehow, in spite of it all, I am still optimistic about America's future.
I believe we need to adopt a different way of thinking and behaving that many Americans do not currently embrace. It is an integrated thought process that asks you to tie together the disparate problems we face and shows how our individual tolerance of bad behavior has amassed into the overwhelming problems that we as a country face going forward.
That said, as I make the case for this change to you, I have to say that I am not an investigative reporter or an academic. I will tell you where I got story data, but I generally do not spend a lot of space telling you what the precise page of the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal it was on, particularly if I first read it online, i.e. there may not be a way to know what online "page" it was on.
Finally, I am not that unique, just verbose with examples to share. If you got something from what I have to say, the best way to return the favor is if you talk with others about the arguments I pose here and become a part of the solution.
"WHERE THE HECK IS MY BREAD!?"
Right now, most Americans are in denial about our interdependency. Let's take a simple example.
Generally, many do not highly value the high school educated, yet safety trained, truck driver who brings the bread to Safeway or Wal-Mart. Somehow, magically, that loaf just gets there and dang it if they do not have your favorite brand in stock. And so we stand there in front of the bread rack, thinking:
"Where the heck is my bread!?"
This is the (sanitized) first thought that goes through many people's minds. Yep, in denial or at least, in deep forgetfulness about the real interdependency that is required to make a loaf of bread and get it to market. Most people do not often have the knee-jerk thought that some external reason could be the reason why the loaf was not there, even if the facts simply could be that the grocery store was sold out.
What if the truck driver had been in an accident and was critically injured?
Unless facts of the accident are brought to our attention right away, we often assume some intentional force was behind the missing loaf and we initially react with a sense of being denied; after all, we deserve choice - all the time - every day.
This thinking pattern repeats in other areas of life, and now, it seems to me, our society is has become somewhat dysfunctional, with many people having become convinced that personal desires can be directly converted into reasonable expectations about how things will be, now and in the future.
After all, the Jones have a big house, two cars, month long vacations in France, so it can of course be mine too. In other words, I believe high - and perhaps excessively high - levels of expected entitlements, conjoined to the concept of the American Dream, have been broadly accepted in this country, across all socio-economic spectrums.
While some are interested in these ideas of how things should or will be, I find myself more and more interested both in observations about how things are and in examining the contradictions when things differ from what people feel ought to have happened or differ from the way we feel things should happen in the future. The issues most likely will not be new problems to you, and I do think being somewhat humorous or highlighting the irony through example can help the dialogue more than simply offering a critique, and so I do both.
I vote on both sides of the aisle, so I have no one particular ideology to put forth except perhaps "avoidance of doing the same dumb thing over again and expecting different results". I believe you'll find that I examine bad behavior without much prejudice: both sides get doused here.
Why I am writing this book is that I have found myself in discussions with people about life in America and they have said things like, "You should be a radio talk show host". I'm not interested in doing that, but these issues bother me enough and I have come to know that there is a dialogue that people want to have in order to push life further in the direction of solutions.
One of the problems, from my perspective, is that most Americans have not been taught to interpret information with the goal of understanding how various areas of life fit together from an integrated view. It is not our fault; we are not fundamentally deficient; there are just a lot of reasons why the average citizen is not induced or trained to take a hard look at the problems we face from a non-polarized approach.
This book brings together ideas that may seem like they don't go together, but my contention is that they do go together, if only that they impact each other and if only that they belong together in a more complete American dialogue.
One deterrent force to our learning integrated thinking is that some people, often those in powerful positions, economically benefit if they can keep the state of affairs in an oppositional state, fueled by the use of simple polarizing slogans, and it seems to me that they actively work to keep things from actually being solved.
But I just don't think it is working for us anymore to look at problems in a standalone fashion - it's all inextricably linked; life both operates in a context and is a context itself.
Our problems do not exist in a vacuum; they are woven into the social and value driven fabric we call America.