Finding Faith in Our Collective Futures

"Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark." – Rabindranath Tagore

Santa Fe means Holy Faith. This high elevation city was founded by the Spanish Empire in 1610 to serve as the capital of Nuevo México. The Spaniards believed in their Catholic God, their King, and the conquest of native lands and people. The city’s full and proper name is La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís. In English, The Royal Villa of Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi. It’s a big name to go with the Spaniard’s new world ambitions.

Note to self: Question/challenge your beliefs. Belief does not bestow virtue. Compassion does.

Rural Routes, Inflamed Snouts

The American Southwest is contested country. It always has been.

After spending nearly six months in and near the house, Darby, Lucy, and I traveled by car from Austin, TX to Salida, CO, and back—about 1800 miles in total. Amarillo and Santa Fe were the only cities on our route. All else was vast open space with just a smattering of small towns dotting the western landscape. A great percentage of the small towns we encountered on the way were economically depressed. Some were ghost towns with a wandering apparition here and there. A select few were more vibrant places, based on their proximity to cash-producing resources like natural gas, oil, wind, or natural features like a lake or river that draw visitors.

Along the way, we saw the American landscape marred by one giant red “Trump 2020” sign after the next. For what it’s worth, we saw just one Biden sign. The Donnies’ updated slogan for 2020 is “Keep America Great.” The sign blares its inherent insecurities, a perfect mirror of the men who created it. It’s a strange thing to see because the signs say one thing and objective reality says another. When half the shops in town are boarded up, and all you have to offer residents or travelers is a convenience store inside a gas station and maybe a post office, how do you also embrace the extreme rhetoric of the right? It makes no sense, logically speaking. But this is not a logical problem. It’s a deeply emotional problem.

Fight for Your Mind

Mainstream media, and social media, are powerful tools where truth and decency can be hard to find. Yet, people are willingly shackled to the screens because the screens reinforce one’s personal identity. All the self-reinforcing programming is built-in and ready to play, you just need to turn it on and keep it on. It’s so much easier than thinking for oneself or forming a plan for your own survival and that of your friends and family.

To quote musician Ben Harper, “You’ve got to fight for your mind.” There’s no other way out of this. We’re being yanked this way and that and our screens are the agents of this dis-ease. To end the madness, put your phone down. Look up. Breathe. Say hello to someone and listen. You may have a mask on, but you are not on Mute. You are not a machine. And The Matrix isn’t real. If you have love in your heart, use your voice to share it.

Unplugged Is The New Black

Chris Wetherell, a veteran tech developer, led the Twitter team that built the retweet button in 2009. According to Buzzfeed’s Alex Kantrowitz, the button changed Twitter in a way Wetherell and his colleagues didn’t anticipate. “Copying and pasting made people look at what they shared, and think about it, at least for a moment. When the retweet button debuted, that friction diminished.”

Kantrowitz continues:

“Every tech platform’s problems can be broken down into two components: the outputs and the machine. The outputs are the bad things the tech platforms spit out: things like fake news, death threats, and child exploitation. The machine is the way the systems are designed, the fundamental structure that makes them spit those things out.

…It’s worth keeping in mind that while social media may hold a mirror up to human behavior, it’s a misshapen, funhouse mirror. And though our reflection may be captivating, your attention should really be focused on the bends and grooves that make it so.”

For instance, Twitter’s policy is to remove death threats instead of reporting them to the police. That’s a structural flaw in the machinery, and there’s no reason to let it continue. Since the platforms will not self-regulate and the federal government is inept and corrupt, it’s on us to reject the bullshit and it starts by stepping back from these platforms, as individuals and as businesses.

Click In

  1. I started a podcast with my friend and colleague, Dan Goldgeier. It’s available now on iTunes.

  2. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average per capita income for Texans in 2018 was $50,355, although rural per capita income lagged at $40,014.

  3. A good friend asked me what kind of music I am listening to these days. I sent him this “Tea for Texas” playlist.

  4. ALERT: A survey conducted by the University of Houston and the Austin Chamber of Commerce revealed up to 90 percent of the live music venues in Austin could close forever if they’re not reopened for business by the fall.

  5. For the past few weeks, I’ve been inhaling this pure CBD product before bed to help me sleep. It works.

Say Hola

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Please feel free to ask me any writing or marketing communications-related questions. I also field trivia questions about American history and literature.