[Opinion] The Promise of the Computer Leaves Some People Behind

By | Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Education, Family, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Peacemaker, Privacy, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Virtue

Access to the means of production in an increasingly computerized global economy is THE social justice issue of our time if indeed the computers ate—and will continue to eat—all of our jobs.

There is an issue with the fact that rural areas in the United States (and worldwide) have limited access to the wonders of the Internet and computer based development, because of the fact that their geographical location is not urban.

There is an issue with the fact that a student who would love to move back to their hometown of 20,000 people can’t because the computerized opportunities they were trained to take advantage of, don’t exist in rural areas.

There is an issue when the only response from the increasingly dense urban populations to the increasingly sparse rural populations is “Well…move to the city.” Or even worse “Well, you chose to live in the country.”

Yes, people have a right to move around and live where they can, and they have a right to experience the consequences that come from making those decisions. The most iconic image of post-modern film history is that one outside the window of Deckard’s car in Bladerunner as he escapes the populated, polluted, oppressive—but full of opportunity—city, to go live in the vast, open, country. It is telling that fiction gets this dichotomy righter than lived fact.

Considerations of access, of course bring to mind the question of who will pay for such changes? The choices before us are either hard, difficult, and without obvious answers as to the outcomes of any of them:

The fact of the matter is, Universal Basic Income to everyone is not economically feasible in a country of 320 million individualists.

More calls for higher tax rates will only economically stifle entrepreneurship and further the gap emotionally between the “haves” in the city and the “have-nots” in the rural areas.

So, if we really believe that the role of government is to be a safety net, then what greater net should government be providing, than the net of advocacy, pressure, and even protection around access to the computerized means of production, via high speed cable that goes past “the last mile”?

If we don’t believe that such advocacy and protection is the work of good government, then the truly fortunate few should be creating businesses, entrepreneurial opportunities, and using every means at their creative disposal to make sure that the rural populations—which are increasingly poor, increasingly white, and increasingly politically hostile to the new order of computers because they are finally experiencing the end of the Industrial era—have the means to make a living.

And another app for doing something that our mothers used to do, won’t really bring that kind of meaning through job growth to those rural populations. Nor will it bring anything but pennies in the form of “sharing” or “gig” economic structures that cannot support the needs of children, families, or communities where education levels are low, and hope is fleeting.

If we believe that education is way out, and that not increasing access, but that instead increasing skills, e.g. teaching everyone to code, is the way to go, then we need to reform the education system from K-12 in truly, deeply, profoundly, radical ways.

And the enterprising few need to leave the cities, head to the country, and be prepared to really dig in for ten to twenty years into reforming an educational system that is simultaneously perceived as the “only place to get a good job” and also seen as “the last best hope for our children.” And the enterprising few must do it while also showing a modest profit.

However, we do have another, more comfortable choice: We can collectively decide that the rural areas don’t matter. That geography is a state of mind rather than a physical place. We can decide that “those country people” are irrelevant. We can decide that the urban poor need and deserve more attention than the seemingly spread out rural poor. We can decide—when we look at all—to continue to use the language of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century to try to resolve and acutely 21st century problem.

We can make such decisions and continue to support policies, and politicians, of all stripes who engage in such decision making.

And all the reformation of education, the gradual migration toward denser and denser urban areas (and the concomitant spread of those areas outward), and the increase in computerization and automation, is guaranteed to lead to more cries of income inequality, racism, sexism, and calls for the acquisition of capital to made harder for the fortunate few, rather than easier.

Which will create more conflict, not less.

[Advice] The Sound of Listening

By | Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Emotional Intelligence, Family, Old Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Problem Solving, Relationships, Resolution, Social Communication, Strategies, Strategy

People hear tone in vocal inflections, but some people are more sensitive to it than others.

Flowing_Water

In a story, tone comes about because of connoted understanding around allusions, diction, imagery, irony, symbols syntax and style. Tone also comes about because of a shared understanding about the general character and attitude reflected in figurative writing.

People are both good (making accurate assumptions based on a shared history) and bad (making inaccurate assumptions based on a shared history), at interpreting and reacting to tone of voice or a nonverbal facial expression. People are also good and bad (and getting better and worse all the time because of social media) at interpreting and reacting to tones reflected through writing.

People hear (and interpret meaning) from tone in the sound of silence as well.

In a conflict situation, what is stated (presence) is almost as relevant as what is not stated (absence). People are sophisticated communication machines and they pick up instantly (or miss terribly), the meaning (both figurative and literal) behind presence and absence.

Emotional literacy in a conflict situation requires people to set aside assumptions and reactions about what tones may mean (presences) and about what silences may mean (absences) and instead do the hard, unsexy work of actually asking the following starter questions:

  • What do you think?
  • What are you feeling?
  • What do you need?

Then sitting back and engaging actively with the sound of listening.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

Towards A More Thankful Union

By | Active Listening, Arbitration, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Resolution, Consulting, Divorce, Dysfunction, Earbud_U Podcast, Earbud_U!, Ebooks, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Family, Google, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers, HIT Pieces, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, Media, Mediation, Negotiation, Neuroscience, Old Posts, Organizational Development, Peacemaker, Persuasion, Platform Building, Presentations, Privacy, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Seminars, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Speaking, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Technology, Training, Truth, Twitter, Twitter, Uncategorized, Virtue, Website, Weird, White Papers, Workplace, Workplace Development, Workshop

We here at the HSCT Communication Blog are all thankful this day for many things:
The country where we live,
The family that we have,
The connections we are about to make,
The business that we are growing,
The tools that we have to explore the world,
The intellect and science behind them,
The religiousity that allowed people to develop ideas,
The advancements in the world that feed more people well,
The times that are a changin’,
The peace we have an opportunity to build,
The relationships we have had a chance to build,
The connections that we have made,
The critics, naysayers and disbelievers that we have,
The “no’s,”
The “yes’s,”
The “maybe laters,”
The incredulity,
The pain
…and the promise…

-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com

[Advice] Why Go to College: For the Rest of Us

By | Blog, Education, Family, Google, Leadership, Old Posts, Platform Building, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Training, Workplace, Workplace Development

Since the economic collapse of 2008, there have been many articles and blogs written about the importance (or lack of importance) of attending higher education for young people.

This talk has taken place amid a backdrop of ever rising tuition costs, zero wage increases, artificially suppressed inflation, a boatload of student loan debt burdening the 18-22 year old cohort and the dim post-graduation employment prospects where an average job search takes 6-9 months.

Hope and change indeed.
All of these writers, bloggers and opinionaters on both sides of the debate have one thing in common: They all hail from middle to upper middle class households and backgrounds, where at least one parent (and in many cases both parents) have already attended college.
In particular, they hail from backgrounds where they grew up with the suburban (and in some cases ex-burban) comfort that at least if they graduated from an overpriced college with an undervalued education and an economically meaningless degree, that somehow, someway, it would all work out in the end.
Now, in principle, we here at  HSCT have no problem with people carrying such assumptions and even acting on them in the real world.
We have no problem with people writing long, effusive, opinion pieces on the lack of efficacy of a college education and worrying about the debt attached to obtaining it, in the context of a world where student loan debt cannot be disgorged through a bankruptcy process.
We also have no problem with questioning why it is important for people to have college degrees and even the tenuous link between a college degree and economic success based in secure post-graduate employment.
Make no mistake, yes our background is in higher education, but we would be blind and foolish if we did not admit that there are real structural problems and cracks in the mighty edifice constructed since post-World War II.
We get off the train though, when we think about the “please take the college years and go off to ‘find yourself’” type advice, being given to minority high school students.
We have a problem when very well meaning, successful, wealthy people, who did not attain degrees, but attained a measure of success, stand in front of diverse audiences and make the audacious claim that can be summed up as “we didn’t go so you don’t have to either.”
We’re sorry, but too many folks in those diverse audiences come with backgrounds from racial minority groups in this country that have experienced systemic, institutionalized, historical racism. And some of those students’ backgrounds are from communities still experiencing the results of such racism, racialism and racial prejudice. Thus, some of the worst advice that they–as well as their younger brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews–can possibly hear is “don’t attend college, because it’s too expensive, too much student loan burden will be upon you at graduation, etc., etc.”
This is not a statement based in social justice, social re-engineering or any desire for any form of social gerrymandering.
This statement comes out of a recognition that more African-American males are in jail in this country than even have completed high school.
This statement comes out of a recognition that Hispanic, Asian and Eastern European populations have traditionally valued education as the only way to advance in America.
This statement comes out of the recognition that the only way to open the doors and unlock opportunities if you are not from an upper class or even a middle class structure, is through the hard work of education, monetary sacrifice, and doing the right thing for the most people possible.
Of course, when there have been three to four generations of racial, ethnic and class minorities that have attained college education in America, we will be the first to write all about how going to college is a fool’s bargain.
We promise.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/