More politicians are mobilizing supporters and raising buckets of dollars through “money blurts” – intentionally-timed, incendiary comments about opponents that stoke social media and rake in cash. But we live at a time when we need to mobilize people to address our growing concerns, not divide them. Below are two sets of sound bites, one rooted in hate, the other in hope. The hopeful ones you can bank on as antidotes to growing negativity in public life.
The article in yesterday’s Washington Post showed how politicians are doing the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre, knowing full well what they’re saying is wrong and will have negative repercussions, but they do it anyway. In public life, such comments undermine trust, make the public square toxic, and push people further away from one another.
The Post offered examples of “money blurts” used by Democrats and Republicans alike. You may remember the one in which Representative Joe Wilson blurted out in the middle of President Obama’s State of the Union message, “You lie!”
Below you’ll find two columns: on the left are negative (even hate-filled) blurts noted in the Post article; on the right, alternate ones I have found engender authentic hope in people. These latter ones are time-tested, positive “blurts” you can start using today. Notice how the hateful ones work to divide people, while the hopeful ones actively engage people.
If we’re going to effectively address our pressing challenges today – such as how to ensure that every child gets a good education – then we must find ways to mobilize Americans to come back into the public square, join arms, and work together. My own work suggests that people are yearning to re-engage and re-connect; indeed, they want to restore their belief in our individual and collective ability to get things done, not just for our own good, but the common good.
If you agree, then use those blurts that engender authentic hope. What’s more, offer here your own examples of when you’ve heard sound bites rooted in hope or hate. And let me know how things go.
Let’s get things moving in a better direction.
A dynamic public speaker, Rich Harwood is a frequent keynote for foundations and national organizations. He is an expert contributor on national and syndicated media outlets including MSNBC, NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN’s Inside Politics, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Special Report with Brit Hume, C-SPAN, and many others. He is also the author of Hope Unraveled: The people’s retreat and our way back (2005), Make Hope Real: How we can accelerate change for the public good (2008) and numerous studies, articles and essays chronicling vital issues of our time. His most recent written work, Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward, is being published and distributed in Spring 2011. You can follow him on twitter @RichHarwood and facebook.com/richharwood.
You can read Rich’s posts every Tuesday on State of the Re:Union’s website.