I wrote the What Could Go Right? newsletter for The Progress Network (TPN) earlier this week. You can read it at the link below.
The current cultural polarization in the United States and beyond is being driven in no small part by our failure to communicate in good faith across ideological divides. The further we move from a place of common ground, the more divisive our discourse gets. This provokes a doubling down on the fringes. The loudest and least tolerant voices get louder and less tolerant, amplifying the more extreme divisions that exist between the few, and elevating them to our elected leaders, where they risk being Frankensteined into objectionable legislation, born of backlash and almost perfectly designed to invite equal and opposite backlash.
The good news is that the jig is up. Or at least that the jig appears to be shifting toward being up. Increasingly, the sensible voices of the many are rising above the fray of the few, hungry for the hard and nuanced conversations that can move us forward.
Way at the bottom of that newsletter, in the “Department of Ideas” section (TPN’s version of staff picks), is a link to Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave’s response to a fan’s question about free speech (and another one about Jesus). It’s not the most important thing that happened this week. But it’s still my favorite.
Here’s why I picked it:
Cave’s reverence for free speech—“a barometer of the health of our society”—is energizing and infectious. He reminds us that humans have a long history of thinking things that were only “terrifying and unconscionable and forbidden” until the day that they weren’t.
I highly recommend reading the whole beautiful thing, which is linked and excerpted below.
Each of us is an amalgam of all we have loved and lost and learned, our personal successes and failures, our particular regrets, and our singular joys—and part of that uniqueness is that we think in different ways. Not all of our thinking is right or fully formed, far from it, but there it is, regardless—that flawed and terrifying uniqueness of thought. So, it is little wonder that people adopt and signal a kind of protective groupthink, because our own true thoughts, at their most interesting, can be terrifying. In fact, humans are mostly distinct individuals thinking terrifying things.
That’s enough from me this week. The world outside my window beckons. Until we meet again, I leave you with this one last bit of vanity.