I promoted the BBC show The Century of the Self in my last post.
Today I was invited to complete a ten minute on-line survey evaluating my local hospital. It’s being rebuilt and the architect is now considering the interior, and they wanted to know what I, and others of course, thought of the interior as it’s been.
I was given a list of adjectives – calm, unsettling, agitating, peaceful, like that.
Part of me thought well, it’s a hospital so yes, a bit unsettling when I’ve been there, but through the questions I saw what they could do, since now, it’s being re-done, to make it a more peaceful, calming, and supportive experience.
I’m glad the survey was anonymous and on-line since in person I might not have been so critical and direct. I remembered back to a freshman psychology class at UCLA where one requirement was to participate in experiments. I learned how we want to fit in, so we will tend to agree with the group, or at least be influenced by it, unless perhaps we are an 8 on the Enneagram, the Challenger.
Of course I’d never heard of The Enneagram at the time. I’m said to be a 2. Relationship is a priority with me.
Anyway, The Century of the Self emphasizes corporate, and now political emphasis, on using focus groups as to how to lead and direct us in a certain way.
Thinking about it, I recalled one focus group I participated in. About 16 subscribers to Ode magazine, now called The Intelligent Optimist, gathered in a room in a high-rise building in San Francisco. There was a see-through mirror on one side and a leader in the room. We were there to discuss how to keep Ode magazine alive. They needed advertising. What would we discerning, obviously intelligent, environmentally conscious readers consider acceptable?
It became a bit of a rout as each person seemed to want to outclass the other as to how little they consumed, and how amazingly superior they were in the way of conservation and preservation. Advertising couldn’t reach us because we needed nothing. We were immune to ads and suggestion. I can feel the energy of self-righteousness even now and this was many years ago.
You would have thought we all walked there in foot coverings made of bark. I had taken the ferry but my shoes were leather. Oh, my!
The Century of the Self ends with Robert Reich speaking. He says we need a leader. Governments can’t be run by the whim of the moment. A focus group may say railroads aren’t the most important thing to them, and then, the railroad breaks down, and yes, it is.
We need a wider vision, a compassionate vision that honors that, yes, of course, we are all individuals, and we are in this together on one planet which is stretching its wings as we look out to the moon, Mars, Venus, and the stars.
On another note, Dan Coats points out in an opinion piece today that we have to ensure this election is fair. Too much has happened for most of us to trust the process. He suggests:
The most important part of an effective response is to finally, at long last, forge a genuinely bipartisan effort to save our democracy, rejecting the vicious partisanship that has disabled and destabilized government for too long. If we cannot find common ground now, on this core issue at the very heart of our endangered system, we never will.
Our key goal should be reassurance. We must firmly, unambiguously reassure all Americans that their vote will be counted, that it will matter, that the people’s will expressed through their votes will not be questioned and will be respected and accepted. I propose that Congress creates a new mechanism to help accomplish this purpose. It should create a supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election. This commission would not circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results. But it would monitor those mechanisms and confirm for the public that the laws and regulations governing them have been scrupulously and expeditiously followed — or that violations have been exposed and dealt with — without political prejudice and without regard to political interests of either party.
Also, this commission would be responsible for monitoring those forces that seek to harm our electoral system through interference, fraud, disinformation or other distortions. These would be exposed to the American people in a timely manner and referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and national security entities.
Such a commission must be composed of national leaders personally committed — by oath — to put partisan politics aside even in the midst of an electoral contest of such importance. They would accept as a personal moral responsibility to put the integrity and fairness of the election process above everything else, making public reassurance their goal.
Commission members undertaking this high, historic responsibility should come from both parties and could include congressional leaders, current and former governors, “elder statespersons,” former national security leaders, perhaps the former Supreme Court justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, and business leaders from social media companies.