This is a great time to be alive if you love solving problems.
The world is in crisis mode, and everywhere you look there is a problem to solve; the good news is that there is a simple trick to benefit from this situation.
Shift your mind from the “Winning vs. Losing” and “All or Nothing” approach, and replace it with making things a little bit better. Try it the next time you are in a political discussion with a friend or family member. Step out of the net of my team / your team, and see how relaxed you feel, when you just start asking, “How can things become a little bit better?”
Our leaders are embedded in the winning system. They are voted in, not because they can offer any reasonable chance of improving our lives, but because they represent the best chance to defeat political enemies. Our political leaders, will gladly allow things to go to hell as long as it means that their opponents will fail. Willing to sacrifice our futures, so they can stand on the podium and shout dominance over their foes.
This stagnation of the “All or Nothing” approach has left golden opportunities for anyone who is interested in the very radical idea of making things a little bit better.
Inclusive Problem Solving
If there is a magic bullet here, it is inclusive problem solving: involving all players into the problem solving process, so all can contribute and all can benefit from the result. If we take a very polarizing issue such as police violence against the black community, we can see how inclusive problem solving might work.
The federal government can provide money to police departments and communities that promote a collaborative approach to reducing the amount of police involved shootings and deaths. This collaboration should benefit a wide range of groups.
- Police departments receive more funds to support non-lethal training and technology
- Community leaders are allowed to participate in police community outreach practices, and participate in the review of police involved violence
- Gun manufacturers can receive a government grant to create more effective non-lethal technology
All participants are working towards the goal of reducing the amount of violence and fatalities that result from police encounters, and each of the different groups benefit individually. That is probably the most important part of inclusive problem solving: everyone needs to have a tangible benefit. In the scenario above it is not about sacrifice and compromise, but each becoming involved in the process in a way that benefits them.
Consider for a minute the tug-of-war that exists between corporations and environmental defense groups. How might things be different, if oil companies and automobile manufacturers were brought in to take the lead in improving air-quality. If this process focused more on rewards and incentives rather than punishment and absolute goals. Many oil companies have already begin to re-brand themselves as energy companies, and with collaboration with local and federal government, and non-profits there could be a much greater problem solving power.
The Moment is Ripe
The best thing that can happen right now is for the Democrats to gain a majority in congress. President Trump would be forced to collaborate in order to survive. To play the obstructionist game would be a disaster, and since he has no real strong ties to any particular doctrine it will be easy for him to take the leap towards inclusive problem solving.
In order to get anything done, President Trump will need to reach across the aisle for ideas. He will need to include the opposition in solving problems. He will need to allow opposing forces to benefit in the process. This will push extremists towards the margin, and allow moderates to solve problems. The current standstill has been in place for so long that the opportunities to make things a little bit better are everywhere. Success will be easy, as this method can go and sweep up the low hanging fruit.
We just need to realize that this country can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can have secure borders and still respect people. We can protect our environment and still have economic stability. We can support the police and still support all members of the community. We can have greater material equality and still have a dynamic creative society.
It begins with a shift in voters minds. Away from my team winning and towards problem solving.