How to Get Past Garland and Ferguson

June 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Before I had heard about what happened up the road in Garland, my hyper-liberal friends were screaming about police brutality and complaining how conservatives were spinning the story. I have not heard from my arch-conservative friends, but I can guess what they will say. Kisa Jackson probably is the only one who should have been talking at the first; she is the only one who was an eye witness and gave an orderly, chronological account.

I applaud engagment. Yes we have some social problems, and yes we are blessed to be able to comment on them and work toward improving things.

So can I say something about strategy? I was concerned when I saw the alacrity that protests erupted in Ferguson. I am not against protests. I am certainly for the citizenry holding police forces accountable. Besides the violent eruption of the nieghborhood, likely to ruin itself, I noticed that national groups were ready and moved in – before they completely parsed the situation. Were they so fired up, that they couldn’t pause to consider if this situation was one that they should weigh in on? Or is their strategy like the ACLU’s that wishes to pick the worst of the cases to make a point? Or is it a case of “energizing the base.” We have too much of this. We don’t need “energizing the base” on false of half-baked info. We need more considered engagement and more wise judgment and intelligent problem solving.

Consider the situation of a co-op dorm. The southern side of the dorm is pushing for a new air conditioner and the northern side is in terrible need of a new heater. For 3 years each pushes harder for their point. The budget will not allow for purchase of both and no resident wants to pay more. Finally a faciliatator is brought in. Meeting are held. When the conflict is set aside and there is a process for intelligent decision making, it is discovered that new insulation, cleaning of the existing system and shades, all of which fits in the budget does the trick for everyone.

For profit companies have taken a page from liberal missionaries cum community development and are now using facilitation. Meeting facilitation is a discipline(and occupation) that uses a variety methods to help a group make intelligent decisions. For instance, I facilitated a neighborhood group that was able to come to a democratically decided plan for improvement and won a “most improved” award in the City of Austin. I helped a church with a process to decide what to do with their properties and building plans. I have colleagues who help software companies write programs for clients everyday.

Processes to help joint decision making was exactly what the founders of this country also had in mind. They worried about mob rule. Let’s work again on better, more intelligent discussions, so we can have better, more intelligent decisions in the public sphere too. We have the social and technical abilities to make that happen. We just need the character and the will – and maybe the vision.

I’ve said it before: we must be the community we wish to live in.

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