November 22:  Listening to People’s Stories Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

What a long, strange week.  I almost forgot to write a post, just wanted to relax and do nothing.

Looking back, overall it was good. And it was people who held me up, as always.  I had some pretty moving and meaningful conversations with patients, and I really helped some people, I think.  But it was a new acquaintance who really made my day today.

I finally had time to bring my car to the body shop this afternoon.  After an unfortunate encounter with a fire hydrant while backing out of a very poorly planned driveway, my front bumper has been partially detached for about 7 weeks.  Every single person at this shop was remarkably nice—from the lady on the phone, to the young man who so politely offered to move my car when I parked it in totally the wrong place.  The waiting area was clean, neat, and well lit, with comfy, non-holey chairs.  After a short wait, a petite and pleasant woman, maybe 40, introduced herself.  She would provide the estimate on my repairs.  We headed outside.  She pointed to the ledge at the doorway on which I had tripped walking in, so I would not do it again.

After I brought her to the car she said I could go back inside and wait, but I asked to hang out with her, because I like to see what other people do.  I know less than nothing about cars, and I loved that here was a youngish, friendly woman who clearly knew her way around them.  I admired her right away.  She was thorough and conscientious, looking inside and out.  She was also extremely knowledgeable and patient, showing me everything, talking me through the parts and functions, and answering my ignorant questions, down to how the VIN includes the paint mix of the make, model and year.  She stayed with me through the whole process, including walking me out to show me the key drop box, because they can’t fix my car for another two weeks.

Before we said goodbye I could not help myself.  I told her how happy it makes me to see a woman doing a job that I have only seen men do.  She seemed genuinely proud and thankful for the compliment, and I’m glad I said something.  I didn’t mean to make her stand outside in the cold any longer, but she started reflecting and telling me her story.  Turns out this was her first day on her own at this job—I thought she had done it for years already.  Nope.  She had done inventory for a railroad company, and programmed machines that cut industrial dies.  She had worked in shops and factories of various kinds, it sounded like, always surrounded by and holding her own among men.

I asked her if it feels different (and hopefully better?) being a woman in these male-dominated fields now, after all these years.  She thought for a moment (looking completely comfortable, while I had started shivering already).  It almost seemed like she had never considered the question before?  She concluded that her peers and coworkers have never been the problem.  It’s the customers.

She kept talking, as if the subsequent story had been waiting days for a sympathetic ear.  In her last days of training, a man brought in a car with severe rear body damage, clearly from a collision.  He gave her a history, she made her appraisal, and he was suspicious and dismissive toward her the whole time.  To assuage him, she brought her trainer to review the case, whose assessment and recommendations were the same as hers.  This time the customer told a different story—admitted to lying to her, basically—and accepted the trainer’s evaluation.  No apology, no remorse, no respect.  She was still affected by it today, and upset with herself that she had let him get under her skin.  Whatever, she said in the end, she’s here to do a job, and there will always be people who underestimate her because of her sex.  Thankfully her trainer was an ally, which made me proud of the good men in our midst.

This woman’s life experience, though clearly different from mine, felt relatable and real to me.  In those few minutes, in the waning daylight of a brisk fall evening in Chicago, surrounded by broken cars, I felt solidarity with and pride for her.  It made me better for reminding me once again of our shared humanity:  Hers, mine, my patients’, those crazy drivers on Wednesday, even her lying customer.

We’re all here doing our best with what we’ got.  I firmly believe this, but sometimes I forget.  Hearing folks’ stories always brings me back.  So I’m thankful for them.

 

November 16:  Loving Subversion Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

Friends, do you already follow Seth Godin’s blog?  His post from Thursday stirred something a little irreverent in me.  It was about ‘allies and accomplices’:

To be an ally means that you won’t get in the way, and, if you are able to, you’ll try to help.

To become an accomplice, though, means that you’ve risked something, sacrificed something and put yourself on the hook as well.

We need more allies, in all the work we do. Allies can open doors and help us feel a lot less alone.

But finding an accomplice–that’s an extraordinary leap forward.

I thought immediately about my fellow Better Angels volunteers.  We have all committed time, talent, and treasure to the depolarizing of America.  We do it in public, in front of audiences and cameras, to reporters and members of our communities.  We openly challenge the prevailing culture of ad hominem, oversimplification, and overgeneralization.  We all come to it from our own internal optimism and hope.  But in the face of entrenched polarization and a culture of self-protection above all, we could never make any headway as individuals.  It is only together—as mutual accomplices—that we can truly claim and exercise our collective agency.

I feel even more buoyed by Ozan’s latest post.  He describes a series of well-known studies showing that people will organize themselves into in-groups and out-groups with remarkable loyalty, even around random and arbitrary distinctions like taste in abstract art.  This, of course, carries grave and important implications for prejudice and discrimination.  Ozan then points to two exemplars of the opposite, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.  In their most famous orations (see links), these remarkable leaders speak directly to what unites us as the foundation for solving our problems, rather than what divides us.

MLK:  The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Obama:  The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.  We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.

I get goosebumps just reading the words.

It really feels like a loving subversion—of cynicism, scarcity, antagonism, and fear.

Who’s not better for that?

 

 

 

November 15: Smiling People Make Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

Winter has set in here in Chicago. Oh well, this too shall pass. The kids were off from school today, so my morning exit was quiet and solitary. I drove along our alley, coming up behind on a slight female figure pushing a stroller. As I passed her, she looked up with a big smile and waved with an open, ungloved hand. She really seemed to look for eye contact with me, the unknown driver passing her. I had wished for the same, but had no expectations. In my pleasant surprise, I smiled back and nodded, one hand on the wheel, the other holding my coffee, which I raised in greeting. I had learned long ago that life in the big city is usually not this friendly.  She pretty much made my morning.

I’ve been thinking about it all day. How many times a day do we contact strangers? How often does a person on the street look at you, make eye contact, and smile? Or say hello? How often do you do this? Does it not just brighten your day, even a little? How does it feel when you pass a dozen people and nobody acknowledges your existence? The most fascinating is when someone looks at me, makes eye contact, expresses nothing whatsoever, then looks away and keeps walking.

I used to be much more judgmental of these behaviors and people. I may have even taken it personally in early adulthood. But now I’ve lightened up a little. I don’t think it’s about me. But it makes me wonder about people—what is it that closes us off from strangers? Based on people’s expressions, I tell stories that they are worried, anxious, angry, distracted, rushing, arrogant, oblivious, or just mean. I make it about them. But this is neither productive nor healthy. It just makes me resentful and less likely to smile at the next person I meet.

Every one of us is one of these things I listed at some point—I think I experience each of those states at least once every day. I apologize in advance if you meet me in one of these moments. So now I try to tell myself that everybody has a unique story of getting through life and the world. This attitude shift has done two things for me. 1) It makes me appreciate smiling people that much more. I notice the twinkle in someone’s eye, the dimples, the cheekbones, the sterling white and/or crooked teeth. I appreciate these joyful strangers and let their joy sink into me. 2) It makes me more, rather than, less, likely to look for eye contact with others. If you’re not having a good day, maybe I can make it better by seeing you and smiling. I do this especially when I see moms with little kids or babies. I remember those days (so hard!) and how reassuring it was when strangers smiled and looked at us lovingly.

That woman really did make my day.

Crossing the street on my way to the parking garage after work today, a car turned left in front of me. The driver had not seen me crossing until the last second. When we made eye contact I could tell he was apologetic. He mouthed, “Sorry,” and raised his left hand in a humble wave. I smiled that I understood, no harm done. Further down the sidewalk a couple walked quickly in the cold, coming toward me. The very tall man marched in front, apparently focused on his destination behind me. His female companion came a couple steps behind. I smiled, and she smiled back—big! She had on a puffy black faux fur coat, a stylishly coordinated black fuzzy hat, nicely coifed hair jutting out from underneath, and neat, metal-framed eyeglasses that complemented her round, friendly face. I think she even said hello. My mood was definitely better for having passed them.

I’ve been in a great mood all day, maybe because of these strangers.

I think we profoundly underestimate the impact we all have on one another, positive and negative, in our smallest interactions. A genuine smile from a stranger on the street can really make your day better. When you smile at me, it makes me smile back at you, and vice versa, obviously—but the best thing about it is that we are both better off for it. That’s how joy works, I think—it doesn’t matter who starts it. It just grows wherever it is, and expands exponentially with each person who shares it.

So here’s to smiling people. You make me better. May I always smile back at you and keep the pageant of joy alive and well.

November 11:  Fierce Optimism Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

On Ozan’s Inner Circle forum today, another member posted about his admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It reminded me of a favorite MLK quote, which came to mind on Saturday as I prepared for the Better Angels workshop:  “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  I have referred to this quote many times over the years, and a phrase that I often add goes something like, “Bend that arc!  Hang on it with all your might!”  Meaning the arc bends toward justice only because we make it so, by working tirelessly for it, by acting visibly in accordance with our core values, and by consistently walking the talk.

I texted my friend the morning of the workshop: “I’m 90% excited, 10% nervous…Maybe 15%…”  Then I thought about the people I know who like the idea(l) of Better Angels, but don’t want to participate.  I thought about my friends who express hopelessness at any possibility that people on opposing political sides can ever connect, that we can actually work together across our differences to get things done.  I thought about the pushback I might get, that the Better Angels mission is futile, a waste of energy and time.  I felt something akin to a tidal wave rise within me, and I texted my friend again, spontaneously, “I intend to make today a day of fierce, infectious optimism.”  At that moment I knew my goal that day was to take every example and experience of kindness, connection, empathy, openness, generosity, magnanimity, conviction, and hope, and channel it to the workshop and its participants.  Because though it was to be a skills workshop, teaching a way of doing, what we really need are all of the qualities I just listed—they are the way of being that brings the skills to bear in the most meaningful ways.

This idea marinated for a couple of hours while I pictured the venue, reviewed the workshop content, made notes about delivery.  I thought again about my friends who feel like our world is crumbling around us, that so much progress made the last century is being eroded.  I completely empathize with this perspective, and I understand how it makes us feel we have to fight, to be aggressive and confrontational, to come at the opposition full force, like a bullet train.  Do they think listening and speaking skills focused on curiosity and openness too passive and ineffective?  Does optimism, the hopefulness and confidence that things will be okay, make me lazy about the issues that matter to me?

Below are the words I texted my friend to describe what I mean by ‘Fierce Optimism’.  Normally I would not share such nascent ideas on the blog, but whatever, it’s all an experiment, who knows what better ideas may come from this early sharing?

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Fierce Optimism Is:

Urgency with Patience

Or should it read, “Urgency without Impatience”?  What I mean here is simply that most things worth doing take a very long time.  All important social movements occurred (and continue) over generations.  At times confrontation and revolution are necessary.  But they are not enough.  Consistent, slow, organic, grass roots change on the local level is what sustains consistent progress, keeps it from regressing.  The acute urgency I feel to address my deep concerns (for instance, the profound rifts in our relationships) drives me to action.  But when that action is directed at another person, I must attune.  I have to set realistic expectations for how much I can move this mountain today.  Pacing myself, practicing persistence with patience, conserves energy and prevents burnout.  It also allows me to look up every once in a while and adjust to my surroundings, adapt to subtle changes, like when someone starts to soften.  If I’m bulldozing with strong words and heavy dogma, I am more likely to plow over and through any crack in the door of someone’s mind that might have swung open freely had I taken a more gentle approach.

Strength with Flexibility

Better Angels does not seek to make everybody—anybody—a moderate.  Rather, the goal is to hold our positions firmly and with principle, and practice seeing why someone else may hold a different position with equally strong principle.  In doing so, two things often happen:  First, by challenging our own beliefs and values, we can reinforce them.  Telling stories about the experiences that led us to our core values reconnects us with their origins, grounds us in and strengthens our own personal truth.  Second, hearing others’ stories helps us broaden our perspective.  Most of the time we only see things from our own point of view—this is our default setting.  But when we share personal experiences, really learn about each other, the curtains open on a vast landscape of understanding that we may never have imagined.  So while I may still hold my goals and objectives firmly, I can more easily release the rigidity of my method, tolerate setbacks with less suffering.  Earlier this year I listened to The Warrior Within by John Little.  He describes Bruce Lee’s life philosophy, which included a metaphor of the bamboo and the oak.  Both are admirably strong, but under intense forces of nature, the oak may break while the bamboo simply bends, sometimes to the ground, but without breaking.  Both stay rooted where they are planted, but one is more resilient.  Listening with openness and curiosity is not weakness.  Allowing for nuance and the possibility that my mind may be changed in some ways, while holding steadfast to my core values, makes me calm, agile, adaptable, and, I think, more effective.

Conviction with Generosity

This is about the assumptions we make.  Too often we cast ‘the other’ in abstract as sinister, evil, less than.  We hold up the most extreme members of the opposing group as representative of a dull and dumb monolith.  We oversimplify and overgeneralize, and then approach any individual we identify as belonging to that group as an assembly line package, a completely known entity.  We think we know all about them already, even if we have never met them, just because they identify today as “Red” or “Blue.”  In so doing, we make ourselves small.  We become exactly as narrow minded and prejudiced as the folks we accuse on the other side.  How ironic.  Now more than ever, we need generosity.  In my mind this encompasses empathy, vulnerability, sincerity, humility and a willingness to allow the complete humanity of every other person, regardless of their political, religious, racial, cultural, or any other persuasion.  Conviction without generosity too easily becomes tyranny, for individuals as well as organizations and governments.

*sigh*

Well, like I said, these ideas were just born two days ago.  Have I expressed them at all coherently?  Have I shown you intuitively apprehensible paradoxes?  Can you feel the dynamic balance of agitation and peace?  Tension without anxiety?  Potential and kinetic energy?  If not, that’s okay.  I’ll keep working on it.  That’s the essential outcome of Fierce Optimism, after all—we keep working, steadily, to bend that arc.

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November 7:  Feedback Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

This post is about power.

Two friends provided important feedback on last night’s post, and I am, gratefully, much better for it.

* * * * *

“You are a woman of color?”

My college friend commented on Facebook.  “Are you being serious?”  I asked him.  Yes, he replied.  He went on to point out that he sees the term being used more broadly, and that he thinks it’s been co-opted.  He made me think, which always makes me better.

In the original post, I described myself as a “petite, young, woman of color doctor,” standing up to an older white man. My friend wrote, “I think disadvantage is baked into the term, why else use it?”  Looking back, I admit I was exaggerating.  I had power on my mind, and I was trying to think of all the ways I should not have power in the situation, and yet I absolutely did, and I recognized it.  But labeling myself a person of color, I realize now, was at least somewhat inappropriate.  I have changed the text to “petite, young, Chinese woman doctor.”  I sincerely apologize if I insulted or offended anyone.

In medicine, East Asians are not considered a disadvantaged minority in the conventional sense (although while we are over-represented compared to the general population, we hold proportionally few leadership roles).  In general, however, I would argue that any non-white person in the US may still experience myriad disadvantages, in any field or situation, even if subtle.  At any point in an encounter, even with ‘MD’ and years of training and expertise behind my name, a white man can always hurl some racist, sexist remark to make me feel small.  He could just as easily attack a fellow white man on the basis of weight, sexual orientation, stature, or some other peculiar distinction, but somehow it feels like my white male colleagues just don’t have to think about this possibility as much as I do.  I feel self-conscious about my gender and race every day at work.  That is why this past spring, when I attended a negotiation skills presentation at the American College of Physicians (ACP) national meeting, I felt particularly gratified that the presenters were two East Asian women and one white man.

* * * * *

“You may want to include physicians as victims in your blog.”

A colleague responded to my post by sharing her story of being verbally attacked by a patient.  She was alone, no witnesses, and he treated staff politely, unlike in my story.  She was ‘dumbstruck and said nothing.’  She wrote, “I think as physicians, we are targets for verbal abuse because we have a privileged profession and would look foolish or weak in defending ourselves.”  In other words, since doctors hold such high societal status (power), people think we should just accept being taken down a notch or two?  That if we express an expectation of respect we are lording our status over others and thus even more justifiably open to insult and ridicule?  I see now how this can make a physician feel like a victim of societal stereotypes and expectations.

That said, I think it doesn’t matter what we do for a living; every person has an absolute right to expect respect from anyone else.  Years ago, another older white male patient made a series of passive aggressive remarks in the space of several minutes at the end of a visit.  I felt they were unfair and uncalled for, as I had spent the entire visit doing my best to connect with and care for him.  After a moment of consideration, knowing it was a risk, I was respectfully direct with him.  I repeated his words and told him that they felt like digs.  He admitted that they were and apologized, and congratulated my courage to call him out.  He never came back to see me.  I feel good about how I handled it; was it a power struggle?  I would have been open to cultivating a mutually respectful and honest relationship, had he returned.

Feedback definitely makes me better.  I will never grow if I only attend to my own point of view.  I don’t have to abandon my own perspective when facing an opposing one, and I am not obligated to incorporate anyone else’s point of view.  But if I expect anyone to take my writing and message seriously, I am required to listen to and try to understand any feedback that is offered in good faith.

Thank you, my friends, for keeping me honest and grounded.

November 6:  Caring For the Team Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

“How does he treat you?”

I don’t only ask this question of women whom I suspect of being abused at home.  I also ask my medical assistants.  Not about their domestic partners, but about our patients.

In my first practice, I sat/stood to the left of my medical assistant every day for six years.  It was a cozy (cramped) little counter space stacked with charts from end to end, with a couple of high-wheeley chairs.  Each chart stack had a laminated cover on top:  “For Cheng to Review/Sign,” “For Rose,” “Labs,” and “Messages.”  Charts journeyed from my left to my right/Rose’s left, to the bin under the counter to be filed.  It was incredibly efficient, actually.  I had a handwritten emoji system for indicating (dis)satisfaction with cholesterol and diabetes results.  Rose knew all of my patients and how to communicate sentiments and instructions clearly and lovingly.  She had been an MA since I was a kid; she knew what she was doing.  If a patient had a question on the phone, she could put them on hold and clarify with me, or I could just get on the phone and speak to the patient myself.  We were busy and happy, a well-oiled team-machine.

One day as I came up to my spot at the counter, I noticed an unusual sound next to me, like a distant, scratchy loudspeaker.  I turned and saw Rose holding the phone receiver about an inch from her ear.  The sound was my patient, yelling profanities at her so loudly I could hear his words from two feet away.  I can’t remember what the issue was, but he was obviously upset, and taking it out on her.  It surprised me because I had only known him to be sweet, respectful, and grateful.  Maybe he was just having a bad day?  I looked at Rose, who rolled her eyes and exhaled heavily.  I asked her to put him on hold so she could catch me up.  Apparently this had been going on longer than I knew, and she had not told me.  Had I not come upon it in real time, she may never have told me.  She would have simply tolerated it.

I picked up the call and declared myself.  He was the usual, respectful and calm patient I had always known.  I answered his medical questions.  Then I told him firmly that he did not have the right to treat anyone in my office the way he had just treated Rose.  I think there may have been some excuses and then an apology.  I made it clear that if he abused my team again, he would be discharged from the practice.  He agreed and apologized again.

That was my first opportunity to stand up for my team as an attending.  I will forever remember it.  I was a petite, young, Chinese woman doctor, speaking to a white man decades older than myself.  I stood up for my medical assistant, a woman of color and a couple decades older than me.  She had felt powerless to stand up for herself to his verbally vomitous abuse.  All I had to do was pick up the phone and say, “Mr. Soandso, this is Dr. Cheng.”  He never yelled at Rose or anyone in the office again, to my knowledge.  How could I have this much power, and why had nobody asked me to wield it in their defense before?  It was just accepted that patients could yell and scream at our staff, with no consequences?

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We recently discussed abusive patients during our regular doctors’ meeting at my current practice.  Immediately I thought, HELL NO.  The good news was that our team members feel safe reporting incidents to our managers and physicians.  My partners and I have all had to call patients to clarify our expectations of respect.  We understand that illness is stressful.  We understand that our healthcare system, especially at a large, bureaucratic institution, causes frustration, even rage.  However, none of that ever justifies or entitles a patient, or anyone, to belittle, dehumanize, or otherwise degrade another person, and especially not a team member who is doing their best to help–ever.  At this meeting, gratifyingly, we all voiced definitive confirmation that we fully support our team, and we will, without hesitation, educate and/or discharge any patient who violates our team’s right to a collegial and non-threatening work environment.

Even as I write this, I shake a little with rage and outrage at these patients’ behavior.  I can feel tightness and tension in my chest and abdomen, my breath quicker and shallower than its usual resting state.  I wonder if this triggers me because my mom is a nurse and I have seen how patients in the hospital abuse nurses.  I also know how women physicians are mistaken for nurses and thus ignored or dismissed, even by female patients.  I have known racism and sexism first hand.  But as a physician, I’m in a position to not have to tolerate it.  By virtue of two letters after my name, I have the power to protect my team, with authority.  And I work with other physicians who also recognize both this power and its attendant responsibility.

I hope our team feels protected, defended, and loved by us docs.  We may be the default work unit leaders, but they do the lion’s share of work that allows our practice to run as smoothly and successfully as it does.  They are who let me do my work as well as I do.  I depend on them every day.  So caring for them absolutely makes me better, makes us all better.

 

November 2: Reading Makes Me Better

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NaBloPoMo 2019

Today I share a Facebook comment series I wrote in response to a prompt from a progressive friend, in its original form.  His post made me look up and read 7 additional articles, all of which I linked in my comments.  In the end I became more aware of my own biases, and recommitted to finding common ground with people who think differently from me.  So I think reading makes me better.  What think you?

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Friend’s post:  (Cathy):  I’d be interested in your perspective on this article in terms of your work to bridge divides and create civil conversations.   [Wall Street Journal slide deck describing the economic basis of party divisions in the US—it’s a fast click through which I recommend.]

My comments:

Thanks for sharing, (Friend)! Okay, I will take the time to make a long comment thread, as this is really interesting to me. Thank you for asking the question you did–I’ll get to it eventually! First: The information presented in this slide show is consistent with what I have read before. The facts presented are real. And they are incomplete. It looks at differences between districts, which is the best way to highlight division. I think this is a direct consequence of gerrymandering, which is designed exactly to create districts that will reliably vote one way or another. And we have all seen the US map showing blue clustered around big cities and red everywhere else. AND, this report ignores the glaring truth that despite the economic divisions by district and income, a much larger proportion of the top 1% is either declared or leans Republican than Democrat (though not necessarily more conservative):  https://news.gallup.com/poll/151310/u.s.-republican-not-conservative.aspx

Gallup 1% 2011

Second: The suburbs are where Reds/Blues live amongst one another, and this report ignores them, pretty much. That said, even without gerrymandering, we Americans have sorted ourselves ideologically. Bill Bishop wrote a fascinating book that details the economic and social evolution, _The Big Sort_ (listened to the whole book a year ago, I highly recommend it): http://www.thebigsort.com/home.php

I think suburbs are where work like Better Angels has the most potential to spark civil discourse, except that people are hesitant to engage, for fear of upsetting the tenuous and silent politeness that constrains their ability to talk openly about politics. That cultural noose is hard to untie.

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[Below are a] couple of other links that have additional demographic information that gives context and texture to the WSJ slide deck. The point of all of this is that when we I read articles that start out with nihilistic, Vader-like proclamations of “America’s political polarization is almost complete,” I see an implicit agenda to actively contribute to that polarization for the good of the publisher. Brené Brown reminds us to beware of those who tell us things are absolute, either/or. Reality is almost never this dichotomous, and whenever we hear it is, we should look for who benefits from us thinking it is. Economic demographics of Democrats: https://www.debt.org/…/economic-demographics-democrats/

Economic demographics of Republicans: https://www.debt.org/…/economic-demographics-democrats/

Okay finally, to answer your question, on my “perspective on this article in terms of (my) work to bridge divides and create civil conversations”: My favorite visual is this table from the first article I linked to. In some ways we are ‘almost completely’ divided, as the Vader article posits. In other ways, we are not. I think of the surveys showing a majority of Americans being in favor of background checks for gun ownership, in agreement that abortion is generally not something we want happening all the time. I think of all of the conversations I have with pretty much any other human, and how we are all 90% more alike than different. But this article and 90% of the articles we see highlight the other 10% of differences, and worse, the most vehement and violent expressions of those differences. So my perspective on this article is that it contributes significantly, if not blatantly, to the division it reports. And it does not serve us in any way. And, I hope I would have the same response if it were published by the New York Times. 😉

top 1% demographics 2011

HANG ON. I just saw that this favorite article I cited is from 2011. I have found a couple of more recent ones; will review and continue the thread….

vox welthy dems 2016

Okay, here is an article from 2016 by a poli-sci expert who, [Bill Bishop-style], explains well the progressive evolution of the top 4%. Very interesting:  https://www.vox.com/…/6/3/11843780/democrats-wealthy-party

And hey, here is one from Forbes this year, which quotes the author of the Vox article, highlighting how a sizable number of Republicans actually align ideologically with Democratic policies:

“The fact that lower-income Republicans, largely known as the ‘basket of deplorables,’ support more social spending and taxing the rich was a key takeaway from this year’s report, says Lee Drutman, senior fellow on the political reform program at New America, a Washington D.C.-based think tank… ‘It is pretty striking that about a fifth of Republicans had views closer to the median Democrat than their own party,’ he says. ‘A lot of them actually want a sizeable social welfare state. It’s a little bit of a puzzle why they don’t vote for the Democratic Party, other than long-standing cultural ties maybe and other ballot issues. What we have here is just one of the two parties stands out to have a bunch of its supporters in opposition to some of the party’s economic platforms but still gives them their vote.’” https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2019/06/24/how-democrats-and-republicans-differ-on-matters-of-wealth–equality/#13e06ab8702f

More from the Forbes article:

“But when looked at closer, a plurality of voters (72%) across the spectrum said the government should provide tax credits for low-income workers. Some 60% are in favor of raising the minimum wage, and 58% were in favor of raising taxes for those families earning over $200,000 a year.

“Across party lines, Democrats were the ones who were most interested in a higher tax burden for the wealthy, though it is unclear if they considered themselves to be part of the income group that would be hit with higher taxation in a more progressive tax structure.

“An overwhelming majority (79%) of Democrats earning under $40,000 a year wanted to tax the rich more. Democratic Party voters earning over $80,000 were 83% on board with taxing higher incomes at higher rates. For Republicans earning under $40,000, 45% were in favor of taxing the rich. Republicans who earned over $80,000 didn’t like the idea. Only 23% were in favor.”

[In conclusion:]  Complexity does not make for headlines, sadly, and we should take this into account when we read and share. Thanks for posting on my page and asking the question, [Friend], you have made me think and thus made me better! 😀