I finished Thomas Weiss's 2014, Governing the World: Addressing Problems without Passports today.
I am partly through the following titles I alternate between:
Jan Scholte, et. al New Rules for Global Justice: Structural Redistribution in the Global Economy
John Harris, How to be Good: The Possibility of Moral Improvement
Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real-World Experience for Transformative Change
William Guadelli, Global Citizenship Education
I note this not to display how widely read I am, but to note my own curiosity to better understand the world we share and how we might better reshape it. In each of these books and in all that I have noted in this blog over the years, they share at least one thing in common.
They are willing to wrestle with complexity and nuance.
With social media we're now down to 140 characters. Lost in this fast paced race to decide is any real ability to investigate complexity and nuances. Busy administrators, CEO's, elected officials rely on the shorthand version of reality, where those at the table or who have the loudest voice get to have their points raised, but others are left out.
I am fearful as I watch this presidential election campaign move forward, that there will be no room for educating voters about complexity or nuance. The world is painted as black or white, red or blue. Campaigns are built largely on sound bytes to fit the 30 second advertisement, the bumper sticker, the brand and much of it aimed at how bad the other candidate is. Even the upcoming debates (?) promise nothing much different. There is absolutely no commitment to build any deep understanding about issues and the type of decisions and processes we need to employ to come up with workable solutions.
It is perhaps, at least partly, but I would suggest, significantly, because politics has become more of a game, where winning is the only thing. Any way one wins is acceptable. I don't see any long-term benefit from this approach to governing. The process celebrates, if not feeds, public ignorance. Our mass media is in part to blame. The purchase of elections through media sound bytes is surely part of the problem.
But if we could see elections as a chance for candidates to find common ground instead of bludgeoning their opponent for a misstep, we might increase our chances to craft solutions that stand before us as a human family on a finite planet.Scoring points from simplistic statements is a poison that we might hope education could provide and antidote.
Appreciating scholarship and how it can help us see the complexity and the interdependencies that surround us,I am reminded of a fine little film my wife and I watch last night, The Man Who New Infinity, a 2015 film on the life of Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan who lived in the early 20th century. We see the struggle of using rigor to strengthening our understanding of the world we share. Reading book length analyses can help us all gain a needed does of humility. We have much to learn, together.
Beware the simplistic statements from candidates.