Don't Be Afraid to Cross Societal Borders
Words of wisdom from Sherman Alexie: "I don't know what any individual should do about crossing her own borders. I only know that I live a happier, more adventurous life, by crossing borders."
Sherman Alexie (b. 1966) is an American writer and poet who has been one of the leading voices in the Native American arts community the better part of two decades. Author of books such as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Reservation Blues, and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Alexie draws from his experience growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington state. Alexie's works often explore themes of despair, poverty, violence, and alcoholism among the lives of Native American people, both on and off the reservation.
Alexie is the source of today's Words of Wisdom. The following quote demonstrates his advocacy for societal exploration. Not everyone is made to go out and be adventurous, but it certainly worked for him:
"I don't know what any individual should do about crossing her own borders. I only know that I live a happier, more adventurous life, by crossing borders."
Alexie is also one of our many Big Think experts, having participated in several Big Think interviews in 2009. Here's one of our favorites, in which he explains that he doesn't have favorite authors, only favorite ideas:
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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