Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cracking the Code, Introduction

Continuing from this post.

In communication emotions come first, but meaning must be shaped by a story or narrative. These stories must activate our deepest emotions but also mold them into a worldview for comprehending what we perceive and feel. The US framers told a story of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. FDR told one called the New Deal where government helped us achieve those original principles. But Reagan told an entirely different story about the free market and against government.

Many of today's stories are based on fear, activating one of our basest emotions. When so activated we perceive most everything as a threat and retreat into our own worlds of family and friends. This story is specifically designed to do exactly that to keep us from caring about and helping others, to keep us self-involved, for it allows the power brokers to get away with reaping most all of society's benefits while keeping us from doing anything about it. It even trains us to hate others who are in the same boat as ourselves, struggling to get by, as if they deserved their fate for lack of incentive or freeloading.

There is another story though, one of compassion and caring, one where we are all connected and people are fundamentally good. It is the story of the framers of America as told by luminaries like Rousseau, Locke and Jefferson. This book aims at learning this story and telling it well. But it acknowledges that we must understand that conservatives are like us in that they too want what's best for everyone but have a different story on how to get there. If we start from this premise we can communicate with them is a way that touches their deepest emotions and beliefs, and perhaps even reaches them.

To do so we must understand that it is best not to prohibit one's behavior but to expand the repertoire of more useful behaviors. Adding new tools opens new opportunities and allows us to “grow to the next level” (7). It also shows us that some behaviors do not work so well in achieving our common goals. Hence we can use this as learning experiences to try new tools and behaviors that work better. Effective communication is one such powerful tool that allows us to better attain our common goals. But as noted above, it can be used for selfish purposes and for bettering the lives of all. The hope of the book is that we use of for the latter. And that the progressive storyline is about both the framing and the ethics guiding it.


First off, I added a lot of my own translation to the 2nd paragraph of the introduction. This contradicts the suggestion that conservatives, like us, want the best for everyone. That might be generally true of the general conservative public but it is definitely not the case with the 1% of rich conservatives that are buying our legislature and rigging the laws to further enrich themselves at our expense. These folks consciously use framing to manipulate well- meaning, working-class conservative folks to accept a certain worldview based on lies and deception. Sure these rich folks might even believe in the worldview, but they knowingly justify lying, cheating and stealing to achieve their ends. So it's not just a matter of promoting a better worldview but of common, decent ethics in the process.

Also as yet the book has not addressed that there are better worldviews, ones that include and expand on love, compassion, opportunity, equality and so on, values that have been established over history to be developmentally superior. So even if there are honest, genuine conservatives that believe their worldview is those things, but history has proven a better way of getting there, we must make such judgements to progress. As but one example, slavery was at one time considered normal, healthy and compassionate. History has determined differently. Same with the divine right of kings and that women and children are chattel. I suspect Hartmann will make a case later that a progressive view is better than its conservative counterpart, but not sure how he's going to justify it. He does acknowledge that new tools lead "to the next level," so we'll see what that means.

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