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It All Starts With Tragic Thinking

WE DON’T HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS screamed the front-page headline of my neighbor’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper the day after a local tragedy.

The tragedy?

I’m not being callous when I reply, “It no longer matters.” Pick a city and pick a day and you’ll be able to read on the local newspaper’s front page about a tragedy that didn’t have to happen or an ongoing tragedy that doesn’t have to continue. Our collective reality is that “We Don’t Have To Live Like This” could be the daily newspaper headline or newsfeed banner for every news outlet across our beloved America for at least the past twenty years.

How do we stop living like this? We transform ourselves. Not just change – change is external. We transform – transformation is internal. We start by getting visions for better alternatives. What do better alternatives look like? Better alternatives benefit as many as possible while harming as few as possible.

The paths to better alternatives start with seeing the damaging behaviors that have us live like this. As we see those damaging behaviors, we openly name them. As we name each, we then work upstream to identify the damaging ethics/beliefs and damaging thinking that enable and support those damaging behaviors. As we correct the damaging ethics/beliefs and thinking we transform ourselves. With transformation we have a collective shot at creating better alternatives.

Yes. As anyone who’s ever tried to break a bad habit will agree, changing our beliefs and our thinking and our behaviors won’t be easy. But it’s literally the only way out. If we don’t change our tragic ethics/beliefs and thinking, we can’t change our tragic behaviors and we won’t change our tragic outcomes.

The headline is right, we don’t have to live like this! Let’s get started on our collective transformation. We’ll start here by identifying examples of tragic ethics/beliefs and thinking that we collectively – America – can correct in order to change our tragic outcomes. In no particular order because everywhere you turn some tragic behavior needs fixing, you (individually and we collectively) don’t have to tragically believe or think:

  • God is dead.

  • You aren’t loved.

  • You’re always right.

  • Labor unions are evil.

  • We shouldn’t tax the rich.

  • It’s cool to be a billionaire.

  • The national debt doesn’t matter.

  • Milton Friedman is always correct.

  • We can’t fix the mess we’ve created.

  • Systems and structures can’t be evil.

  • Government regulation is unnecessary.

  • Any of us is a self-made man or woman.

  • Employers aren’t looking for loyal workers.

  • Our Supreme Court isn’t politically influenced.

  • The marketplace has to be a dog-eat-dog world.

  • You’re alone in your desire to see a better world.

  • Politicians aren’t capable of caring for the public.

  • Our government is here to serve our corporations.

  • You can’t put up a righteous fight for a good cause.

  • An unfettered free market is always the right answer.

  • Transformation and better alternatives aren’t possible.

  • America’s level of military spending isn’t a national sin.

  • War is better than peace because war creates more jobs.

  • We can’t get better quality people elected to public service.

  • Bootstrapping is real and you don’t need others to succeed.

  • Our lives don’t depend on our maintaining a healthy planet.

  • A single voice won’t find others and together can’t make a difference.

  • Workers aren’t looking to develop loyal relationships with employers.

  • The rich are responsible for creating wealth that lifts others out of poverty.

  • Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, or Gandhi don’t have solutions for today.

  • It’s okay that firearm manufacturers have unfettered access to the marketplace.

  • We don’t need critical thinking because we have internet search engines and AI.

  • People who disagree with even one of your opinions are necessarily your enemy.

  • People enjoy the hustle of 3 or 4 gig jobs, none of which offer benefits or security.

  • Gender, skin color, ethnicity, or sexual preference is more important than character.

  • The primary purposes of public corporations are to grow and to increase stock price.

  • You can claim to understand capitalism or what Adam Smith said without first digging deep and studying both Theory of Moral Sentiment and Wealth of Nations.

Where on this list do you find your place to start getting your vision for a better alternative? Please get started! What would you add to this list? We're curious. Write and let us know.

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