Everyday I go through the New York Times searching for decision points in American public policy and culture. The columnist David Brooks interests me in that he feels no compulsion to feel more or less conservative than he actually is at any given period of our tumultuous history. He thinks. His latest column entitled “Scorn and the American Story” published in the Times on 11/5/2021 addressed in its opening something that I found lies at the core of the The Good Decision (TGD). He opens with: “A nation is a community of people that, at best, is held together by a common story.” He concedes upfront that the “triumphalist” American story that bound previous generations together has lost its power and will not suffice for the future generations. It does not ring true for the younger generations. In our fragmentation, absent a unifying story, we have unfortunately recently heaped scorn upon one another and in doing so risk altogether losing access to a common thread. Says Mr Brooks:
“We’re pretty good at humiliating one another even after we’ve been here for years. The ongoing humiliation of daily racism. The condescension toward the Middle America working class. The bigotry that forces gays into the closet. The crude caricatures of evangelical Christians.”
The discipline of TGD is constructed to help us move beyond the reaction of recrimination towards finding common ground with groups other than our own. The emphasis in TGD on our “Sense of Good” means to shift where we put our attention as well as intention, for ourselves and the ‘other’. In addition to creating the conditions for good decisions, TGD in its first two Pauses is designed to assist in the creation of narratives that are not at their foundation political. Rather those narratives need to arise from the individual and communal experience and only after those considerations do we invite our minds to become political. In bringing to mind what we call good in our immediate lives can surface potentially binding values with other people different than us, providing we are truly honest with ourselves and are responsible to the actual good we articulate. Bypassing self examination and and community responsibilities and taking our minds directly to politics we help create and sustain the mental conditions for the current scorn and toxic national narratives. Whatever purpose scorn and anger may serve, I believe we are moving past that now and need to intentionally gather together to discover common good and common story before we encounter a violence beyond our experience. My questions to you are ; How do we manage our anger in this age? In your mind, is the commitment to good or the Sense of Good naive? Do you believe a common thread and story possible in this time of fragmentation. Anger is understood, but do you feel scorn?
Thanks in advance for any feedback.