I just returned from another wonderful Momentum Conference, and I'm digesting all the wonderful presentations that were attended, the incredible people who were introduced, and the amazing conversations that were had and overheard with those incredible people. Needless to say, I feel more focused and inspired than ever to affect positive change to help move our country (and our world) toward a more positive, personable and personally pleasurable place. Much of the focus around that already well-established desire came courtesy of some great words from the mouths of two amazing women; Lara Riscol and Esther Perel.
In particular, I've felt helpless as I've watched an energized, well organized, well funded minority of fundamentally religious and social conservatives take control of the narrative around a number of issues (especially around sexuality and gender) and also take over much of the Republican Party in the process... by carefully and strategically using pre-existing prejudice and anxiety around sex, race, gender roles, social programs, etc to associate negativity with not only progressivist language, but also a number of pretty cool plain English words.
That's how despicable (and extremely clever) culture warriors like Andrew Breitbart, Karl Rove and those in the Fox media empire have managed to redefine and/or stigmatize words like choice and liberalism and progress and diversity. They all play by the same playbook, they're relentless, and they know how to scare the crap out of hard working Americans who are only trying to make a living and feed and clothe their families.
The most recent proof of some members of the Right's attempts at inciting class warfare were revealed just last week thanks to a leaked memo coming out of the conservative National Organization for Marriage. The memo revealed a comprehensive and long-term strategy to "drive a wedge between blacks and gays -- two key Democratic constituencies" by helping those communities to orchestrate media campaigns which are intended to provoke hostility between the two groups by preying on long-standing, but relatively dormant, divisions between those groups.
Clearly, lack of integrity and dishonesty are not a concern for some on the Right... only results. And, they're prepared to win the hearts and minds (and fears) of Americans by any means necessary.
How does one counter this? That is the dilemma.
How does one counter this...
- ... without calling too much attention to every lie, manipulation and abuse spewed by the Right? Correcting every fallacy only seems to have a negative effect. By further reiterating and disputing each claim, we only give those claims more mindshare, while distracting us from telling the story of what we're really trying to create
- ... while maintaining a high degree of integrity? In short, I refuse to use the same "lie and twist, scare and deceive" tactics of some on the Right.
- ... without getting angry, and staying positive?
- ... while enrolling and making free-thinking moderates and conservatives part of the process? In other words, this is not about class warfare. This is about making sure that every American has the liberty to live their lives as they see fit, and to find their true happiness, regardless of their personal values.
I welcome a conversation around any and all of these questions. But, inspired by Lara, I'll start by suggesting a list of words which are a good starting point and around which can be framed a new narrative around progressivism.
A core human value which says that everyone has the right to live their lives and express themselves as is right for them.
Without these, trust erodes and society cannot function. People crave honesty, not only from each other, but for themselves about who they are and what they want for their lives. We seek to create a culture where honesty and integrity is commonplace, and the opposite is discouraged.
By their nature, humans want to connect and share and give of their time and treasure where they are able. Americans should look to embrace this.
Everyone should have access to unbiased information.
Everyone has a right to discover, express and be their true selves, free from shame and fear.
These are all incredibly positive and powerful values which anyone should be able to embrace. Some on the Right are actively trying to twist and redefine words like these to support their narrow values, and to frighten others into accepting their restricted vision for the country.
Please share your additional words with a comment, and let's talk about how to describe to every American a nation which generates its strength and greatness from all its colors and creativity, and from the compassion and character of its people!