The fact is…

That people are being gas-lit every day.

That the environment is getting worse.

That we’re only a few steps away from reenacting The Handmaid’s Tale.

That subjugation and merciless violence continue unabated.

That the rights, freedoms, and unnamed liberties that some segment of Americans take for granted remain elusive or unrealized for millions more.

And the fact is… the majority of people in a position to change things don’t care.  At least enough to actually get out and do something about it.

What’s true or factual doesn’t matter anymore, in light of what these same people in their positions of power believe.  Belief has overtaken consideration or reasonable inquiry.  The belief that doing the least harm and the most good has been abandoned.  Greed and selfishness have overridden common sense.

Instead of building a longer table and working harder to uplift, we’re constantly being sold on the virtues of self-centered and illiberal belief structures.

Screw you, I got mine.

Gotta stick it to the Libs!

Are you triggered yet, snowflake?

And instead of being able to have reasoned discourse, the response is to treat that attempt at discourse as an affront–an attack on the very values that the victim claims to hold sacrosanct.

The fact of the matter is this: not everyone can be reached.  No amount of data, reasoned discourse, or inquiry can have an impact on those who choose not to be reached.  The ones who have already made up their minds have made them based on a flawed world-view and without empathy.

Do you expend energy reaching out to them, constantly being rebuked and further entrenching them in their recursively-reductive positions of scarcity and fear?

Or do you instead reach out to the ones who haven’t yet made a decision?  To the ones that are looking for a compelling argument as to why they matter, why their friends and family matter, and why they should care about others who aren’t yet their friends or family?

That’s the question that’s screaming for an answer.  That’s a fact.

Margins

Empty space, right?  A strict utilitarian might look at empty space like a margin in a book, newspaper, or a website as wasted opportunity.

Fill it with more color, more ads, more text, more-more-more.

Once it’s full though, the margin has lost its original intended use: a passive method of delineation.

A book’s margins don’t necessarily represent a failure to utilize one-hundred percent of a piece of paper or a screen.  Sometimes, when it’s done with intention, it can be used to create the space necessary to help draw the eyes to the what matters: the content or the message.  It delineates the content from the medium.

An investor or CEO might see the margins on a balance sheet or financial report and think that they’re not big enough.  A better question might be “what does the lack of margins represent?”  Does it represent consistent, sustained investment in growth?  Or does it mean there’s some mis-alignment of priorities?  Margins in this case might delineate a successful strategy from one that isn’t.

Margins are everwhere.  Margins for error, margins for budgets, even the proverbial “margins” of our lives and the events that fill them.

In the micro-view, in purely focusing on our personal or professional lives specifically, what do the margins represent?  Do they represent intentional separation of concerns and delineation?  Or does it represent space?  An opportunity for something?

What we decide to do with those margins is part of the work.  And it’s an opportunity many of us get but few of us utilize to its fullest potential.  Choose wisely.

Separation

Sometimes a little separation is necessary.

Consider a welding machine like a MIG or TIG welder. Too much separation and there isn’t enough electrical arc and heat generated on the metal to bond it.  Too little and you end-up fusing the welding gun or your bonding material to the metal directly.  Not ideal in either case.

A little proverbial distance can give you a lot more than just perspective, it can sometimes be the key to unlocking new insights or seeing something much more clearly.  Taking the necessary time away from work, family, friends, obligations, and commitments might be the best way to gain a better understanding of your efforts and priorities.

But the inevitable return is what separates a beneficial (albeit temporary) separation from a detrimental one.  Eventually you have to go back and take the insights and wisdom gained back to the effort.

Letting “eventually” be the interval is just stalling.  Don’t wait, because the world won’t.

Monologues

If our inner monologues are saying things that we wouldn’t say to anyone else out loud, what purpose does that serve?

If our inner monologues are reinforcing values and beliefs that aren’t true anymore, why do we still believe them?

If our inner monologues are telling us things that are distorting our view of the world, why do we continue to let them speak?

If circumstances and experiences have changed, then it’s time to change our inner narrative.

Doing what’s good for us…

Sometimes means leaving behind something that we love or care about too much.

Leaving Facebook because it’s too toxic and doesn’t add value to our lives.

Declining additional commitments or dropping them because we’re over-subscribed.

Avoiding taking on additional work when we’re already working at our limit.

And sometimes it means simply saying “no thank you”.

The American Project

Something that was brought to my attention yesterday by a fantastic episode of the podcast “Why Is This Happening?” with Chris Hayes is the simple fact that a multiethnic, multiracial, pluralistic, representative, egalitarian democracy has never existed on this planet at any point in human history.

While we continue to stumble and miss the mark, for the last hundred years the United States of America has been the single most egalitarian nation-state in all of recorded history.

We have made tremendous missteps and mistakes as a society – nothing should ever indicate otherwise.  On racial justice, gender equality, and equality of sexuality and expression, we have largely missed the mark and continue to do so in a myriad of ways.

Our job as citizens is to ensure that the project continues and that we enfranchise as many of our fellow humans as we can along the way.  The project itself never ends, as is the case with any truly worthy enterprise.

The question that lies before us is this: Do we have the strength of will and the courage to continue the work?

Communicating

It’s easy to fall into the fallacy that effective communication is more about being clear than it is about honesty.

Presenting information in a clear and engaging way is certainly helpful.

Presenting your information with honesty and humility does more to engage your audience than anything else.

The hallmark of a great communicator is someone who can balance both, and it’s a great feeling to know that you’re trying.