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DEALING WITH OPPOSITES: IT'S NOT ALL SCREAMING AND SHOUTING

Oh crap! Another email request for a book review from some random nutter…

Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I found someone who appeared as upset with the current status of the government as me. So I requested a copy of their book, expecting to write a positive review for the cause. Unfortunately, the book appeared to contain what seemed to be an unworkable thesis from a progressive point of view. And so it began – a conversation.

Fred’s side of the story…

THE 90-DEGREE TURN

WHERE I WENT WRONG

About a month before releasing The 90-Degree Turn, I sent an email blast to bloggers and podcasters. I was soliciting book reviews. The first and perhaps only reply that day came from Steve Levine, who writes a blog at onecitizenspeaking.com. Steve liked the synopsis and needed to see the entire book to write a review. So, I sent him my work in PDF and received a response a few days later.

It was early Saturday morning. As I brewed my first cup of coffee, I noticed an email from Steve on my iPhone and enthusiastically opened it.

After a short greeting, Steve wrote: “Sorry, but I will not be reviewing your book because it would be a negative review and I prefer not to write anything that might impact your sales.”

While I appreciated Steve’s concern for book sales, I was heartbroken. Rejected from the start. Not worthy of further consideration. Had I screwed up so badly?

Fip

After composing myself with a tall latte, I read the rest of Steve’s email. It was bold but enlightening. Rather than telling me what I wanted to hear, Steve defined the landscape and obstacles the 90-Degree Turn needed to traverse. He didn’t launch into a political rant but took on the theory and exposed its shortcomings.

Here are some of the key points he made:

1. … your book appears to present an unworkable thesis -- that a database of needs and resources can be used to rationally allocate resources to competing needs and somehow overcome the interference of self-serving political and special interests.

2. Even the idea that some local or state individual or groups of individuals can correctly assess the needs of a community is almost untenable given the complexity of the infrastructure needed to create, operate, and maintain municipal property and services.

3. The dislocation of funds, personnel, and assets would create chaos and explosive anger among those disintermediated.

4. Let us consider elemental infrastructure priorities that deserve funding at a fundamental level -- communications, law enforcement, fire-fighting, emergency medical services, sanitation services, water, electricity, and natural gas distribution grids. These are all resource-intensive and levered to a growing population. However, the most disruptive overarching component governing the allocation of funds are the respective unions that prioritize funds allocation to personnel over the creation, repair, replacement, and improvement of infrastructure. Requesting funds allocations from the federal government demands oversight and auditing -- but unfortunately most of these systems are defective by design.

As I read Steve’s reply, I came to appreciate his objections. I realized that addressing each would help develop the 90-Degree Turn theory beyond the kernel of an idea that it currently is.

Steve provided a piece of the roadmap needed to progress beyond concept to the real world. For this, I am very grateful.

I replied to Steve, and a dialogue ensued. Our ideological divide is likely wide and deep, but we didn’t go there. Instead, our focus remained on addressing the problem of the Federal Government as fellow citizens and not dueling doctrinaires. We exchanged several long emails over the next day and a half.

A few hours after our exchange had finished and I considered the dialogue over, Steve sent me his review. It was a complete surprise and much appreciated. It was fair, balanced, and a big step in establishing common ground. True to his word, Steve published his review. It was the first of 20+ that have followed.

My interaction with Steve served as a catalyst for Dialogue. I thank Steve for that and hope he’ll join in a podcast.

Footnote: Rejection is a good thing, provided we understand why. From rejection, we learn how to do better. Everyone loves praise, but what good is it? Sure, it makes us feel good, but it’s a sugar high. The greatest value often comes from those who have failed in the art of meaningless jabber. Paraphrasing Revelation 3:16, my college philosophy professor, Xavier Ryan, often said: “That which is lukewarm is what I vomit from my mouth.” I’ve learned since that Xavier was right. Follow those who ask the hard questions. Hard is good in the mix of doing better.

Check out Fred’s blog – DIALOGUE

Lesson for today…

This is an example of how political opposites can approach a problem from different positions without ranting and personal attacks.

You start with an agreement that a genuine problem exists and that a solution is required to improve the lives of all Americans.

You counter their arguments with your arguments, and something positive most always shakes out, even if it is an agreement to continue on your separate paths.

Since it is virtually impossible to consider the multiplicity of nuanced solutions, perhaps you might discover how to strengthen your argument or begin the implementation of an iterative solution.

Most often, the problem resolves to individuals and their entrenched self-interests, which demand a political solution based on a negotiated consensus rather than a strong-armed solution doomed to failure by covert or overt sabotage.

Anyway, think of the dialogue between Fred and myself as a starting point for your discussions and debates.

Pro tip: Like Fred, know something about your subject matter before beginning a debate.

Bottom line…

I always read my emails. You never know when you might find an interesting source or a worthy opponent that will help elevate your understanding to the next level. The problem is that it is often a time-consuming and painful process until you encounter that one intelligent being with a helpful idea. The key is balancing time and an acceptable risk/reward ratio.

-- Steve


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS