From the dawn of time…ok, maybe that’s a little too early. From man’s earliest days…ok, still a bit shy of the mark. From the beginning of recorded history onward…ok, that’s better, the practice of writing has elevated humankind. Throughout the ages, it has allowed us to pass on information to others without even seeing or speaking to them – crazy, right!? In its earliest rudiments, writing allowed the gears of commerce to turn, ushering in the age of civilization, and onward with the inexorable forces of time, it has made possible the most quintessential of human achievements: philosophy, religion, government, science, art, to come into being and flourish. As much as anything of our own making, writing has charted our course and been the palette from which the creative spirits of man have taken shape.
Today, however, we see writing taking on forms that act to force man back to his most basic, his most primeval. The social media networks we’ve entrusted with bringing us closer together, have, lately, done just the opposite. 140 characters is in no way sufficient to craft a thoughtful conversation, reducing contemporary discourse to a shouting match of the thumbs. Comments sections have become virtual gladiatorial affairs, rife with single-jab trolls that pour salt on the wounds of dissent before slinking back into the darkness. Facebook and other social media sites (but mostly Facebook, shame on you, Mark) act as echo chambers, filtering to us only content that reinforce our existing feeling and thoughts, blinding us from entire other worlds of belief, all for the purpose of profit. It is time for a new medium.
Until relatively recently, writing had been in sole possession of the elites, the vast majority of whom were aristocratic males. This was the case well into the 19th century, but now we all have the capacity to write. This places us in the unique position of having control over the direction of our collective future. Given the powers at our command, and the troubles that now ail us, what are we to do about it?
I believe the answer can be found by doing two things: writing and listening. When we express ourselves through writing, we are empowered – our thoughts and feelings are made concrete, our metrics measurable, and our goals, thereby, more attainable. But it also allows others – those who may not agree with us, or who see a different reality, to better understand from where we derive our feelings, what is meaningful to us, and importantly, where we may find some common ground. On the other side, when we listen to those with whom we disagree express themselves, it empowers us by broadening our scope of understanding, shedding light on an alternate, but equally real universe, particularly when we listen to something that flies in the face of our existing paradigms.
The platform I envision for this expression and understanding is one that encourages and fosters contribution from all corners of the ideological spectrum. It would be a place for peaceful, thoughtful, and honest discourse. It would be a place that encourages its contributors to also become listeners, and listeners of an alternative mindset, rather than one that only acts to reinforce existing beliefs and harden that bubble cordoning them off from the rest of society. In this way, our consciousness both individually and collectively will be elevated, beyond the self, to the pulse of the nation.
In short, what I envision will open people’s minds rather than program them.
I’ve chosen to call this thing “Here, Us, Now” as a response to the questions posed long ago, “If not here, where? If not us, who? and, If not now, when?” It may also be seen as an appeal to listen and be heard, indulging the beautiful punnery of homophones: “Hear us now!” It will take the form of a blogging platform, with a singular purpose: Expand the consciousness of the American public.
6 Basic Ground Rules:
- It is expected that contributor-listeners will review their work for quality and accuracy prior to submission. This review should include a check on any questionable information through the non-partisan organisations of Politifact and/or Snopes. Contributions that have been found to include information that is objectively deemed to be dishonest or misleading, will be removed from the site.
- Contributor-listeners will be encouraged to read across ideological lines. If a contributor has submitted a piece deemed to be left-leaning, they will be encouraged to read a piece on the same or a related topic that is right-leaning. This will also be the case with fringe and centrist submissions. This is meant as a counterforce against the many Facebookesque algorithms surrounding us that act to create the echo chambers blinding us to alternate realities.
- Publications will be solicited from all corners of the political spectrum, and will be organized on the website in the following categories: centrist, left-leaning, right-leaning, apolitical, fringe, and other. Contributor-listeners are encouraged to seek out and promote this project to those in their social circles with whom they disagree, in particular.
- Publication of articles will be by anonymous pseudonym. By sharing in the ritual of taking on a pseudonym, all contributor-listeners will be part of something greater than themselves. The pseudonyms will take the form of “________ Jones.” For instance, the moniker I use is 2Pac Jones from Arizona.
- Articles will be a minimum of 400 words. There will be no maximum article length. This is meant to prevent articles from taking the form of soundbites as is the case in the Twitterverse.
- Comments will be a minimum of 100 words. This requirement is meant to ensure a minimum level of thoughtfulness in debate over the issues. Comments deemed to be demeaning or unconstructive to an objective understanding of the issue(s) will not be tolerated.
What will be our legacy? Will we be remembered as the generation that shut up and gave up, growing ever further apart, instead of coming together? Or will we be remembered as the generation that rose above the tribalism that exists in the most base elements of our human psyche, and instead sought unity through empathy and truth seeking? Will we be remembered as the generation that turned its back at the very crux of the demise of the great American experiment? Or will we be remembered as the one that had the courage and wisdom and dedication to stitch back together the patchwork quilt that is our great country?
If there exists a movement to heal our country, this is part of that movement. Moreover, this is part of a broader revolution to speak truth to power and wrest our destiny from the grips of those who seek power for power’s sake. More precisely, I see this as a rebellion against the echo chambers of conventional social media that constrict our views on reality, numbing us into submission and ignorance. What I’m proposing only works if we engage and share in it, purposefully and with an open mind. It only works if we get out of our comfort zone by understanding and empathizing with someone unlike us. Are you ready to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?
E-mail your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org, share this with everyone you disagree with, and let’s change this mutherfucking world.
Contributed by: 2Pac Jones, Arizona