I had gotten myself off on a dirt road trying to take a “short cut” to fly-fishing on the Big Horn River in Montana. As I had gotten myself completely lost I noticed a phenomena that I first witnessed on rural roads in Colorado. In these remote areas
everyone waves to each other. In both locations 40 years apart the phenomena is the same.
I was sure I did not know any of the people in either place who were waving at me.
I learned the lesson 40 years ago from the best man in my wedding. When you’re out on country roads you may only see a vehicle once every hour or two and at night every 6 or 7 hours. You are an
assumed member of the community out there because on any given day they depend on each other to make it. Out in these wide open spaces, people
know they need each other. As we live in our Internet echo chambers (or in Congress for that matter) there is the illusion that we don't need each other and that point of view has gotten us to where we are today.
This is not a United States problem, alone. You can only be shocked at a BREXIT vote when your only contact with people not like you is in polling data rather than actual conversations.
In the US, gerrymandering of districts ensures only one party can win in that district. But it also ensures you only have to listen to a portion of your constituents and ignore the needs of those that don't vote the "right" way. OK, this works for keeping your “job” in Congress but what about the long term health of the country? The US Congress can't get anything done because they can get reelected over and over again without passing one bill! Fiery rhetoric blaming the other side for why things are so terrible, may keep the heat off of you, but it’s not enough to run the country.
So what are our options?
You could run for office your self, laudable but a bit too much of a career leap for me.
You can demand your representatives compromise rather than just work on their bid for another term. Screaming and vocal dissent does get elected officials attention as we have seen in the town halls, around the health care debate. I am in favor of yelling at the right people at the right time. Yelling doesn’t always present itself as an option though.
Here’s the one we all can do. Maybe we need to start waving to each other again. With the whole hand not just the middle finger. We are the people responsible for attitudes in our respective countries. Waiting for our elected officials to get it may be waiting for Godot. I started the experiment at my new gym yesterday. You have told me in the halls of your companies people don’t even acknowledge each other’s presence. So lets start a movement, lets do this experiment called relationship democracy.
You may not be on “dirt roads” so folks may not wave back the first time. Rebuilding relationships, in world, one wave at a time!
Make no mistake we do need each other, with or with out dirt roads.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
As always we invite your comments.