Three baby turtles swimming in a tub of sandy water
Practical Philosophy

All Problems Come from Ignorant Non-alignment

I believe in two things: the value of love and the danger of ignorance. I believe, as I explained recently, that those two things are related pretty profoundly.

I believe something else too: different people want different things. But I think wanting different things doesn’t have to be an obstacle to compromise and everyone feeling like their needs and wants are understood, accepted, and accommodated in a solution to a problem that isn’t specifically what they would have chosen.

I think all of the most sticky problems in the world are fundamentally solvable. After all, we humans made the messes, we humans can solve them.

People can align their conflicting needs and wants and create compromise. Compromise is reached through a two-step process. First we have to be clear about where everyone is on a particular topic — what they understand, how they feel about it, and what they’d like to do about it — then we have to align our vision and find a solution that meets everyones needs.

This process of finding compromise by building a mutual understanding and an alignment on vision is not easy. When facing long histories of misunderstanding, it’s probably the hardest communication task that anyone has ever undertaken. But it’s both possible and valuable.

When we see other’s views clearly, fully, and with a will to help, we’ll naturally become aligned with them. We’ll find a way we can work together to make us all happy. Ignorance is tenacious, and alignment takes work. But it’s always possible to use those two as the levers by which we solve even the hardest problems.


What Might Have Been: Unity ’08

David BerkowitzMichael Bloomberg

This is something that’s been sitting on my computer for sometime. I recently found it again and decided it was interesting enough to put up here. This is a platform/speech that I devised for (recently shuttered) Unity ’08 around August of last year, likely with Mr. Bloomberg in mind. It’s more eloquent than I remembered it–which is not to say that I’m especially proud of it.

The first question for the Unity Party to answer is: why? Why do we need a third party?

This answer is simple. We believe that the majority of American’s lack a party that shares their values. That neither of the now-dominant parties shares the values of even a quarter of Americans.

Rather, in most elections, citizens are left determining which party they think will do the least harm, or at best, the minimal good that they’ve promised.

Further, we believe that this difficult and unwanted choice stifles the positive prospect of politics. It encourages the belief that there are only two sides to a given issue, when careful consideration makes clear that this is never the case.

And the two parties have worked to further this division by encouraging voters to join a camp. They’ve encouraged those already with their tent to see the other party as this enemy. This party knows both parties are worthy of respect.

This party exists because many American look around at politics today and find no one to turn to. They see two extremes, neither of which they or in, nor want to be in. They agree with some principles and find their views grossly misrepresented on others.

For most Americans, compromise is a solution. Unity is strength. That is what this party stands for, what we are about.

This party does not believe that America would be a better place if the Bible came to replace the Constitution as the basis of justice. Nor does this party believe that the Bible and other forms of religious worship are severe dangers to peace.

In economics, this party does not believe that unregulated capitalism is good for growth and shared prosperity. Nor does it believe that the government should collect great deals of money and redistribute it as it sees fit.

This is not the party of enormous government, nor is it the party of anemic governance. Rather, Unity believes that there is an ideal compromise between those extremes.

This party will not be dominated by ideologues and zealots. This party stands for compromise. For sensible and responsible governance. We do not believe that government is the source of all good in America, nor do we find it to be the root of all that is wrong.

This party is neither liberal nor conservative. This party is neither for former Democrats or former Republicans. This party is for Americans. For old and young; black, white, yellow, red and brown. This party is for patriotic and the questioning.

This party is for compromise. America’s great history is told by instances of compromise, optimism, and hope. By policies that recognize both individual responsibility and the fact that the individual does not exist in a vacuum.

Countrymen: stop choosing between two sides you dislike. Join me in stating your dissatisfaction with the status quo. Join me in showing this country and the world that Americans believe that progress comes through cooperation.

Join me in voting for Unity in 2008.