Wednesday, November 16, 2005


One of the challenges social reformers face is keeping the attention of a distracted public. Stimuli come from so many directions that getting folks to focus on anything for longer than a minute or two is a minor miracle!

Maybe we need to start a new movement that declares a weekly Sabbath from all media except classic books and real human conversation.

No, I am not becoming the leader of a new cult!

Why did all the recent California Initiatives lose? Opponents will argue that they won on the merits (and $80,000,000+ in spending). Proponents will re-examine the "messaging" and try again.

The real issue is focus. No one is taking the time to think deeply and examine thoroughly all the ramnifications of various policies. When too much is happening too fast, everything gets lost. To expect voters to reform teacher tenure, correct a century of gerrymandering, understand prescription drug markets, and do anything on abortion rights at the same time is unrealistic.

Just as humans beings can not change more than one or two personal habits at a time, why would we expect the entire public to focus and follow-through on multiple issues?

My advice to political leaders: do not try to fight on a dozen fronts at once and stop treating the public like imbeciles.

But my most important advice is for all of us known as "the public".

We can choose to slow down and focus on the important issues that confront us. We must choose to look beyond our personal circumstances and think of the "commonweal" that binds us all together.

Back to my Sabbath idea. Regardless of religious affiliation, I challenge all of us to find a 24 hour period free of email, web, TV, radio, cell phones and any other media. Use the waking hours to think deeply, converse intelligently, and see what emerges from an uncluttered mind!

We might even discover new solutions to apparently intractable problems.