Are you courageous enough to collaborate with your enemies?
Unlikely allies can solve society's most complex problems.
BISHOP OMAR JAHWAR: Well, I started out in the early '90s, I was the first gang specialist hired by the state of Texas. My job was to essentially go into youth prisons and some of those young early adult prisons and deal with the gang phenomenon that happened in the '90s. The job was to negotiate peace in those environments and then furlough those young men out and allow them to go back to the neighborhoods and talk with their OGs and their leaders to ask them to give them free passes back into their world.
In this culture, now it's less gang it's more identity with whatever—whatever area, whatever neighborhood, whatever scenario that you're in, you identify with that, so that becomes your protection, it becomes your identity, it becomes your way of life. So someone has to figure out how to go through that system and say, "Let's get reality from those false identities, those falsehoods." But you've got to be careful, because no matter if it's false or not, if someone believes it they'll die for it, they'll kill for it, they'll live for it, so you have to know how to use whatever influences you have to bring about a different perspective.
I'm going to tell you, once I did a gang negotiation with the Aryan Brotherhood, the Aryan Nation, the Nazis, and when they gathered they all had to affirm their belief system. And it was so interesting, the guy he looked around his group and he said, "We hate blacks and we hate Hispanics and we hate..." and he looked at me and he said, "But not you, sir; we don't feel like that about you." I said, "Thank you, man." Because what I realized what he said to me was, "Man, we need you right now. This is our speech, and not necessarily entrenched." And that guy became one of the leaders of this "emoji" council that we did in prison, which is a unity council.
But the point I'm making is that enemies come when there is true violation, not true rhetoric.
See, rhetoric don't make enemies, man, you've got to go past that. There is some stuff that I promise you I would not say on camera, that me and my wife have argued about, and you think, "Boy, they are enemies." No! She wants one thing on TV and I wanted—it just got out of hand.
So sometimes you have to go beyond the rhetoric so you can see the real. So you've got to classify a person, if they're an "enemy," with their intent, with their consistent behavior, and it's a whole broad range when you try to deal like that. And so you've got to be very, very careful when you're doing it, because you never know who you're going to need on many, many, many sides. So that's how I see "enemy," so you're right about that, it's very rare that in my spirit I would say, "That's an enemy," because, in the work that I do, you would really limit your influence and limit your access if you thought in those terms.
I did work with Paul Ryan. He was doing a poverty tour with a mentor, my mentor Bob Woodson, and it was called 'What Works and Why'. And he was going around to see what really works. And he had this idea called A Better Way Forward. And so they came to Dallas. I had no knowledge of him; he came to Dallas to come see my work. And one of his first trips when he became Speaker of the House was—I do a big celebration every MLK Day where I bring healers from all over the city of Dallas then, but now all over the nation, they came together to just affirm what we were doing and to revisit where we were. One of his first trips, he came there and was there strictly to listen. He stayed for a few hours just listening to everyone and talking in that space and it was so interesting how the perception was not the reality.
Because most people who work in neighborhoods, they have a philosophy that would say 'It don't lean toward where you are, Paul', but he was as comfortable in that moment as I was when he brought us up to talk to a group of guys who were conservatives. And we did a deal at the American Enterprise Institute and other places where we was just trying to share our ideas. And so what we started realizing is there's not a lot of separation. The separation is very small, and so we began to just work in that sense.
You know, perspective comes from where you are. I'll never forget when Paul and I first met, I was saying, "What is he trying to gain from this?" And his direct answer was: information. "I don't know what I don't know, so teach me. Show me what it means to be in this moment and then I'm going to show you where I am." And then he said something that's very powerful, he said, "Omar, there are people who are poised to help you that you wouldn't meet, but I want to introduce you to this world." And I'm skeptical because I'm working in the street saying, "Right, anybody who wants to help me I pretty much know," and I was wrong. So we met at a vulnerable place where we both could learn. And the power of that relationship is that we didn't have to start hiding from real issues to work together. Charles Koch said something that was so strong to me, he said, "What do we fiercely agree upon? And let's work like hell to make it happen." I said, I like that. What do we fiercely agree upon?
So do we really agree that everyone should be a citizen? Yeah. Do we really agree that poverty should not be the destination, it could be a transportation but not…? Yeah. Do we really agree that anyone could transform—transformation to redemption? Yeah. So we just start figuring out what we agree upon, and it was easy to have real relationships. So, Paul then, for me it was not political, it was real. And then when we had real disagreements they were coming from a pure place. "Paul, I don't agree with his policy." He said, "Yeah, it's cool." And we didn't have any heartburn, we had true ideas that could play out in a theater of ideas and see what happens. But the goal was bigger than the role, it was not us trying to figure this thing out. So it stopped being this conversational piece of we figuring out how we play the game with each other, it started really being, "Do we add value to each other and are we solving things that other people run away from?" And it's in this environment of us versus them, right versus left, red versus blue—all of those things create the most echo-chambered life that you can have and it's going to have major consequences when you really have to solve deep problems. You cannot solve problems that way. That's insane. You can't do that.
- Bishop Omar Jahwar has worked beside all kinds of unlikely allies, from Aryan Brotherhood gang leaders to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
- What is an enemy? A true enemy is rare, says Bishop Omar. "Enemies come when there is true violation, not true rhetoric... sometimes you have to go beyond the rhetoric so you can see the real."
- You cannot solve deep problems from the comfort of an echo chamber—it takes courage. The key to courageous collaborations is meeting your so-called enemy to ask: "What do we fiercely agree upon? And let's work like hell to make it happen."
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."
- The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
- Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
- However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
If you thought your mother was pushy in her pursuit of grandchildren, wait until you learn about bonobo mothers.
- Mother bonobos have been observed to help their sons find and copulate with mates.
- The mothers accomplish this by leading sons to mates, interfering with other males trying to copulate with females, and helping sons rise in the social hierarchy of the group.
- Why do mother bonobos do this? The "grandmother hypothesis" might hold part of the answer.
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