Upon discovering “humilitarian”, a large majority of people have understood it and love it: they see what it is, why it is, and why now is its time.
A few, however, have an ounce of hesitation, like this NFL agent, who wrote to me recently as follows.
“I have never been one to hold my tongue when it comes to someone doing something ‘bad.’ …
I am a firm believer that everyone has a right to think what they want, whether political, religious, etc…
But I will say something if I totally do not agree with what’s being said…
My family, a young one that consists of a 3-year old girl, and a boy on his way in November/December will be raised with a very open mind, but attack and stand up for what you believe in…
How does one facilitate and not harbor any ill feelings towards the other side if the other side is so blatantly wrong. As a disclaimer, this is by no means an attack on H, but rather a question on how I can better myself and live the H way.
I have forwarded [the Humilitarian one-pager] to a couple of my really close friends who I trust and who I grew up with. Feedback [included], ‘I like this, but f**k that if I am not going to tell these idiots what I think.’
To summarize, I guess when is it practical to ignore and marginalize, and how and when do you call everyone out of their BS if they are completely everything you are against?”
Many of us identify with this sentiment – whatever part of the political spectrum we are on. Indeed, it’s because so many of us feel this way that Humilitarian is so urgently needed.
Humilitarian isn’t telling anyone to stop taking a stand or declaring their beliefs. Rather, it is asking the question, “Is all that calling out the other side getting the problem solved?” and once that’s been done, “then what?”
If merely exclaiming how appalling our opponents are stopped their appalling behaviors, the country would be in great shape, wouldn’t it? But obviously it doesn’t because here we are. Worse than that, each side feeds off the other’s accusatory reactions in a worsening cycle.
Now, we can choose to keep doing that because it makes us feel better – and we might even be on the right side as we do so – but that doesn’t break the cycle or change politics and stop those behaviors.
Humilitarians observe what is appalling and disappointing and then consider what’s the best course of action to change it. Before they speak, they’ll likely ask, “What’s the most effective thing I can do or say to change this?”
We can bang on about what’s wrong and what is right from now until the end of time – but unless we ARE and DO what is right, then what changes?
A practical permanent solution to has to involve people working productively and respectfully with others with whom they disagree – because that’s the opposite of the problem. It may well require stating our beliefs and responses honestly – but it ALSO requires our proceeding on humilitarian principles.
Humilitarians disagree politically but share values that go deeper, allowing them to trust each other and so have productive – rather than accusatory – discourse. Doing so, we do an end-run around those who would prefer their side to be telling the other side how stupid and immoral they are.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” as the saying goes. That is a statement of logic as much as it is of morality – because unless enough people do just that, large-scale change cannot happen. Think about it.
Humilitarian is not telling anyone to stay silent in the face of evil, lies, divisiveness, dog-whistling etc. when they see it. Rather, it is concerned with the next step by offering – being – the solution that is the opposite of all those things. What do you want to do after you decide (to quote the correspondent I mentioned earlier), “I am going to tell these idiots what I think”?
And, by the way, did telling them what you think achieve anything? If so, great. If not, try something else next time.
If someone is content once they’ve “told the idiots what they think”, then what they really wanted to do was make themselves feel better – but not take the next step to make anything better. (I mean, does anyone really believe that “idiots” care when we’re telling them what we think? Does anyone expect it will stop them being idiots. The idea is almost… well, idiotic.)
Of course, feeling better is not a bad thing – if that’s what people want to do – but those people should be clear about their motivations.
Humilitarians don’t accept ignore bad people or accept bad behaviors. They call those out honestly (but not personally because that just adds to the divisiveness) if doing so can achieve something. Occasionally, a robust response to lies or personal attacks can make a practical difference – but more often than not, it reinforces the target in his anger or self-righteousness while making the accuser feel right or righteous for a moment.
Which do you want to have – a better country in the long run or a better feeling right now?
Most divisive and tribal rhetoric in politics make things worse because people give it more attention – and therefore power – than it deserves. Of course, all political actions have effects and there are bad political actors out there – but we don’t have to give those who undermine our discourse what they crave when they provoke or divide.
“What you focus on gets bigger.” Humilitarian is what people can be and do after, or even instead of, focusing on, paying attention to, and drawing attention to, the divisive to-and-fro.
If a majority of Americans want to work together in a way that makes what we are seeing in politics today the exception rather than the rule – which the polls tell us they do – then we need to activate that desire practically and politically. Humilitarian is the vehicle, the idea, the identity that enables us to be that change – rather than just demand complain about the lack of it.
So go ahead and pick your side if your conscience demands it. But what are you going to do next – other than expressing shock and pointing at the baddies?
Are you picking a side to fight the good fight? If so, more power to you: go in and fight … but what about after that? What does winning actually look like? What should the peace look like after the fight?
Do you want it to be more of the same but with “our guys” on top? Humilitarians hope not because that’s not change.
Tribalism cannot defeat tribalism. Division cannot defeat division. What we’re trying to build can’t feel like what we’ve defeated, can it?
Humilitarian isn’t about what you believe: it’s about how you believe it and how you treat others while you do so.