Think globally, act locally

I’m not very good at being retired, I think. When interesting opportunities present themselves, I find myself jumping up and waving my hand saying, “Me! Me! I’ll do it!” when anyone with an ounce of common sense would look the other way or, in Army parlance, take one step backward.

I am getting to that time of life when you look backward and say, “Things were so much simpler then.” But people have been doing that for centuries, no, millenia, and while it may be true, it’s basically irrelevant.

The world changes, and people must change with it.

But some things are, in my opinion, nearly universally true. One of them is this: If we are all to get along, then we have to communicate with each other.

And I’m not sure we’re doing a very good job of that now.

We have more ways to communicate and to communicate more quickly than we have ever had. But it feels to me as if there is less real communication going on than at any time during my lifetime. We are polarized as people, in this camp or that. I’m not just talking about the “red state/ blue state” phenomenon (I think this is largely a media and wonk invention). But we seem to be losing the ability to empathize with others, in our own culture and in other cultures, just as the world is shrinking faster than the ice floes we’re all worried about.

We line up in our positions and take a stand. If someone disagrees with us, we shout at them or call them stupid. But too often, if you quiz someone about a position they’ve taken, they know very little of the real facts behind the problem. They’ve been sold a sound bite or a rallying cry, and they will stick to it without any real understanding of the issues involved.

Communication is inherently two-way. You talk, I listen. I talk, you listen. And we don’t just listen, we hear, we register somewhere deep in our cores the problems you are concerned about, the problems I am concerned about. And we internalize them. I may absolutely disagree with a solution you propose to something that is bothering you, but I understand at a gut level why it concerns you and am willing to help try to find a solution amenable to us both.

My needs and interests may be different than yours, but that doesn’t make them any more important. We are both people.

But none of this happens unless we freely communicate with and listen to each other.

An opportunity has presented itself to perform a little experiment, to see if it’s still possible to bridge some of those ideological gaps and get people actually talking not to, but with, each other.

I’m not going to say a lot more about it at this time. There are some “i”s to be dotted and “t”s to be crossed first. It’s very much a local sort of thing, but it feels like a step forward. And it involves Marianne’s salon going live, face to face. I’ll update things here periodically.

Wish me luck.

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6 Responses to “Think globally, act locally”

  1. Lisa Hostick Says:

    Sounds absolutely amazing.

    Small….but big.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Lisa, I believe very strongly that it is in the small and the local that we can make progress. You fix world hunger one community at a time, not with sweeping global initiatives.

  3. OmbudsBen Says:

    “I’m not very good at being retired, I think.”

    Could I give it a try, in your stead, for a while? 🙂 I’ve got so many little projects around the house I wish I had more time for!

  4. mklekacz Says:

    Ben, I have to admit I’ve even tried it before, with perhaps even less success. You could, I suppose, try it in my stead, but I have to warn you, I’m so busy that I wonder how I ever found time to work. It’s like the stuff you have expanding to fill the space in which you have to store it. The tasks you have expand to fill the time available. It’s a fact.

  5. Lisa Hostick Says:

    I’m in total agreement with you.

    Retirement….hmmmmm. I’m certainly not there yet. I watched my mom work for years, raise a big family (not unlike your own mom) and keep her sense of humor intact. I love the fact that she really doesn’t have to look at the clock so much, in the course of her day.
    That is how I envison retirement.
    Keeping active and involved, but on your own time.

  6. whig Says:

    My needs are to have a way to live together with people in a society which does not sustain itself on the blood of the innocent, which does not sacrifice people on the altar of profit, which acts to benefit humanity and all of us who will have to share this world in the future.

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