Thinking Citizen Blog — “Structural Humility”

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: “Structural Humility” — have I done my homework? Have I walked a mile in their moccasins?

Political process reform begins at home. We are our own worst enemies. The plan announced last week was to have a second installment of a police reform series. Last week was a summary of a New York Times article calling for the abolition of the police. Today’s was going to be a summary of Jeff Jacoby’s article advocating the abolition of police unions.

Instead, given this week’s firestorm of posts, I have decided to address a bigger issue — how to edge the current political climate from anger, suspicion, and distrust to civility and empathy. The short story is “structural humility.” Have I done my homework? Have I walked for a mile in the moccasins of the other side? Have I committed to a life long discipline of rigorous research and analysis? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

TREATING EACH TRIGGER AS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY (LO)

1. Say you read a post or hear a statement that you find offensive.

2. Instead of assuming the worst, ask yourself, what if the person who wrote or said that actually shares my deepest dreams but has a different idea about how best to realize them.

3. Think of this as an intellectual and moral challenge: can I imagine a path from the shared dream from to that person’s conclusions? Can I articulate a set of premises, a set of facts, and a logical path to that post or statement? If not, ask them, politely, to explain what you don’t understand.

IF YOU NEED A HAND DOING THIS — check out the Thinking Citizen website

1. The first part of the website is a seven-step guide to “structural humility” — that is taking the time and effort to walk in the moccasins of the other side. One page per step. Plus a one page introduction and conclusion.

2. The second part consists of 29 “Thematic Matrices” in which I applied as best I could these principles to a set of issues from foreign policy, economics, and social justice to climate change, gun control, family structure, and candidate selection. The matrices have not been updated since 8/27/15.

3. If you find any or all of the steps or matrices stupid or offensive, instead of attacking their weakest point, can you try to come up with a better series of steps or a better matrix of your own?

I’VE BEEN TRYING TO BUILD BRIDGES ACROSS CHASMS FOR 50 YEARS

1. It might be the middle child thing. Might have been my saint-of-a-mother. Might have been the Holy Child nuns that taught me from kindergarten to 6th grade. Or the Benedictine monks who took over from 7th to 12th.

2. As a Marxist, anti-war, and civil rights activist in the 1960s and 1970s, I was frustrated at the tendency of my comrades to demonize the “Cold Warriors” of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. They didn’t have any sympathy for a generation that had fought and defeated the Axis and understood the horrors of Stalin and Mao.

3. Today, the situation is at least as bad. My record is 50 years of failure. But I keep on dreaming.

The Thinking Citizen

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to the political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, and art.