One of my New Year’s resolutions was to not play it so safe on my blog. If I’m stumbling in my head, stumble on the page. I hate the idea of doing that. I want to wait until I get it right before I write a word in public. But my gut – and my writer friends – say that’s a recipe for constipation, not creativity. So…
I spent last week writing up a bunch of little pieces of paper I’ve stuffed into folders in the last year or so. When I tried to sum them up, I ended up with 4 very rough principles:
- Building democratic power, a.k.a. Everyone Should Have a Real Say
- Top-down/scaling up
- Bottom-up & accountable
- Taking real ownership (Spiderman’s dad)
But when I tried to take the 1-3 pages of notes I’d accumulated on each and use them to flesh out the principles, they weren’t doing anything for me. Why?
Today, I think the problem is that the question I’m trying to answer isn’t sharply defined enough. If I was really struggling with how I would answer it, then each of the 4 principles would be a relief. But the question doesn’t feel urgent. So the answers feel like they’re being phoned in.
And yet I think I’m in the vicinity of the right question. I like focusing on the tension between Everyone Should Have a Real Say in how we shape the economy and the fact that We’re Not As Smart As We Think We Are. Figuring out how we reconcile this tension – between democratic control and chaotic reality – feels like the way to go.
I also think that if I can sharpen the question to the point where it feels urgent again, I’ll find that each of the principles has something to say about both sides of the tension. Take building democratic power. It might seem like it’s mostly about democratic control (no kidding). But I think I can also show that if everyone has a real say, it’ll protect us from some of the major reasons our plans go off the rails.
So, my next step is to ramble till I get to the core of the question, then sharpen it to the point where it demands to be answered.