The thought running through my mind is what happened to the attitude of “We can do better.” Societal challenges always come at us strong, but we tried to approach them with an attitude of how can we do better for the next generation. Through history, we missed the mark too many times. However, motivated leaders and groups came together to challenge us to remember who we are as free citizens.
I enjoy reading and exploring history. Back in the late 1980s, I found a World War II poster that I loved. The saying was simple: “United we are strong. United we will win.” What I found unique about the poster is all the flags from various countries (including the Soviet Union) fighting for a common cause. Diverse, yet strong. Diverse, yet challenging.
We hope that not all change comes through war or violence and, thankfully, many work diligently to prevent the use of force and pursue peaceful negotiations to work through differences. Change also comes through non-violent means. While Martin Luther King, Jr. stands as a solid example, many other leaders have led movements of change through the strength of their message and getting others to join in.
Each leader, movement, social change, or big initiative contains flaws, yet an underlying motivation of “we can do better” kept focus and inspired persistent efforts.
A Random Walk Through Current Situations
Within the past week or two, I question certain goings-on more starkly. Seeing things in a brighter light helps find better questions to ask or more productive paths to take. For what it is worth, my random walk through current situations may spark something within you.
Millennials and Mopping
This past week, the Wall Street Journal published a front-page article on how retailers are refreshing the way they sell. The goal: Attract more Millennials to their stores – physical or online. Several retailers wanted to experiment with how-to videos, so they started with some basics, like mopping or measuring things. When trying new promotional models, it is good to start with the basics, learn, and then adjust to take on more complexity.
Too many individuals jumped on the story in an incomplete, inaccurate way. Immediately, the Millennial-bashing started. Just another example of how Millennials don’t know anything, too many said. The story contained no reference to a Millennial’s inability to mop. Instead, it was a story of how businesses were trying new basic videos to learn about better ways to reach new audiences.
Too many do not read complete articles anymore. Jumping to conclusions is better than reading to understand. We need to change this mindset. We can do better.
Weinstein and Harassment
The disgusting and inappropriate sexual abuse and harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein caught up with him, although way too late. Too many women have been treated unfairly and inappropriately by men. Some tried to make this into a liberal versus conservative political issue, trying to tie what former President Clinton did or what current President Trump did. The point is missed.
Treating women, or anyone, in an abusive, threatening way is wrong, no matter who you are or what your position is. It isn’t just Hollywood or politics; it happens in Silicon Valley and in too many businesses. Some behaviors may not be sexual in nature, but they are just as hurtful and wrong. From Uber to Kleiner Perkins, too much bad behavior holds people back or demeans individuals. We can do better.
National Anthem and Race Awareness
The National Football League is in the news for reasons they would rather not be. Standing or kneeling during the National Anthem raises our ire in a meaningful and missed message way. Let’s call what kneeling for the National Anthem really is – it is a non-violent protest.
Colin Kaepernick started it for the following reason: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Raising our ire to rally for better treatment of African-Americans by our police departments and citizens is a meaningful right and responsibility of being a citizen.
Twisting the kneeling into a disrespect for our soldiers or flag is wrong. Too many are fanning the flames of authoritarian patriotism and missing the message of race relations and dire treatment of individuals because of their skin color. We can do better.
Rising Anxiety and Digital Health
A current New York Times article outlines the increased anxiety many experience, especially teenagers. “Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States, affecting nearly one-third of both adolescents and adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.” The American College Health Association found that 62 percent of undergraduates reported an overwhelming anxiety.
Several reasons exist for the rise in anxiety and, in one research case, the rise in anxiety matches the rise in smartphone adoption. Social media is present with a few swipes, and our phones are on all the time. Infinite scroll is becoming the new addiction. As one youth said clearly, “I don’t think we realize how much it’s affecting our moods and personalities. Social media is a tool, but it’s become this thing that we can’t live without but that’s making us crazy.”
Just this week, I removed Facebook from my phone. I was guilty of infinite scroll. Even though much of what is posted on Facebook is just self-promotion crap, I kept scrolling. Good conversations are absent from personal Facebook feeds. Too many are focused on personal brands and missed opportunities to engage in meaningful ways with individuals who are the same as us or different than us. Good-natured humor is hard to find. Today, even humor has to make some point or raise some brand in some way.
We Can Do Better
We need good conversations. We need to read completely and deeply. We need to think more openly, diversely, and profoundly. We need more deep-rooted belly laughs and joyful guffaws. We need more tangible and positive progress forward. We need all of this and more.
We can do better.
Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash