It was a full house in the building! With Tom Brady’s return to the Patriots stadium, fans lined-up to be there in the seats. The tailgating had it all. The pre-game coverage was in high gear. Ticket prices went through the roof with the game billed as one of the most anticipated regular season matchups in a while.
There was another full house happening elsewhere though. As schools re-opened for in-person classes, school board meetings saw a spike in attendance. Parents weren’t there to celebrate returning “back to life better.” Instead, they came to create a raucous over kids wearing masks or practicing other Covid precautions. Even the FBI has been called-in to the situation. Makes you wonder, can we build trust as a bridge, and momentum to crossover the cultural divide that needs civic repair?
Here we have two situations: one involves sports where fans show up to cheer an athlete seen as the G.O.A.T. While at other venues, parents show up to scold school officials who’re looking out for families’ best interest. Just one example of the sliding scale of America’s standing at home and abroad and the cultural divide that needs hope for despair. Yes, it can be hard to build trust across this divide or other misplaced pride if you’re not sure whether people are operating in good faith.
The question of how to address ongoing concerns around civic/social issues kinda led to SAIC. In the process, it also became clear that we could take a page from changes in technology over the past 50 years. For example, just in the last 20 years we’ve gone from flip phones to smartphones to more recently a ‘flip smartphone.’ There’s even a phone app for keyless entry into our cars or to adjust interior features. So, if we can add ‘smarts’ to systems and gadgets, why can’t we do it for civics?
One thing we see common with cell phones and ‘smart TVs’ is a new way to improve device usage. Sometimes when there’s a problem, the FAQ tells us to “check your settings.” For some adjustments it’s an on-off toggle. For others it’s a sliding scale setting from low-end to high-end for each category. What if we had a similar approach to handling civic/social issues? Forget party affiliation for a second, we could check our settings of awareness, ideology, ego, truth, integrity/shame, DEI and so on. Now if that’s not good enough, SAIC recommends checking some other universal (or systemwide) settings of:
1. Vision vs Division
We gotta choose seeds of vision over seeds of division. It’s been said where there’s no vision, the people suffer. That’s an old-school take on the proverb. A new-school take on the same idea reveals that oftentimes where there’s deep-seated division, it’s possible there’s little or no vision. If we could just make an adjustment on the sliding scale from division to vision, it would go a long way to enhancing America’s standing, maybe your own startup’s branding or a public official’s approach and messaging.
2. Function vs Dysfunction
Think about building a bridge to span water or a land gap. A lot of engineering goes into the specs and the decks. For that bridge to be of useful function, it’s gotta be designed to work and then work as designed. Some challenges we have around civic/social issues involve less effort being made around civic function and more social media buzz around dysfunction. If our daily lives are spent stirring-up anger, resentment and distrust, we get misinformation, disinformation and maybe even Insurrection. What if we spent the same time instead building a bridge to span the civics gap and drive American Dreams?
3. Fusion vs Confusion
Public officials spent months trying to hash-out changes that would improve social justice matters after the George Floyd killing. Then we got word that those discussions went silent. Again, using technology as a guide, the beautiful picture we see on our color TV set is from the fusion of red, green and blue (RGB), each in its right intensity. It would be an improvement if our public officials could discuss things in good faith to avoid confusion and then come up with the right mix of equality, justice and economic opportunity. We don’t watch our TV set with the brightness set to the high-end because that would be blinding, or at the low-end because that would be blank or just dark.
4. Exception vs Exceptionalism
Some of the conflict we have today isn’t so much about the rule. It’s more about folks wanting to create an exception. In some minds, it’s a kinda “freedom exception” they’re pushing. While for every rule there are usually exceptions, it’s no longer much of a rule if everyone gets an exception. There was a time Americans enjoyed being known for having a reputation of exceptionalism. One way to understand the stalemate we see in resolving civic/social issues is the degree to which we’re striving for too many exception overrides than the push for exceptionalism.
If tech isn’t your thing in figuring-out how to “check your settings” to improve device usage, then try a sports example. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the use of video replay across multiple sports. That’s their version of “check the call” to improve the game. We’ve seen sports leaders do it for fans, tech leaders do it for consumers, science leaders do it for civilian space flight, so what’s holding us back on civic/social issues in doing it for citizens and the country? It can’t be that we think our best days are behind us or we’re feeling like things should remain in the dark.
You can join the conversation and support our efforts with SAICs “Dear America 2021” Letters and Impact Statement at the Facebook ‘Hometown Chat’ Page here http://www.Facebook.com/seeamericaincolor.
Tracks: Alessia Cara – Best Days – https://youtu.be/TPv64Y56I_4
Swae Lee Ft Jhene Aiko – In the Dark – https://youtu.be/2LJjtyNnOWc