The premise behind this blog, and behind other projects to come, is that governments and corporations have become too powerful: They’ve moved from servants to rulers. The freedoms that were fought so hard for are being stripped from us; if we want to live as sovereign citizens it’s up to us to fight back.
But clearly, as bad as the situation is, nothing has happened to wake people up and cause a sustained response. (The movements of late, including the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, were well-intentioned but misguided, and ultimately compromised.) So what is it going to take?
I think you need to start by understanding the nature of people – what’s important to them and what motivates them. Only then can you find the lever that will motivate them to learn what’s happening and act.
Here’s my analysis:
As a rule, people are good and fair.
There is always going to be some small percentage of the population without principles or morals – your psychopaths and sociopaths – but the vast majority of people are decent, and that’s true across all divider lines (economic, race, religion, etc.).
People generally don’t want freedom; they want comfort and security.
Freud said that “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility,” and I think there’s some truth to that. People are much more interested in avoiding pain than in pursuing independence.
People want the easy way.
We’re biologically hard-wired to save energy: Calories used to be scarce, so if there’s a way to do things that require less effort, that’s what people will do. Bill Maher once asked, “If it solved global warming, would you give up the TV remote and go back to carting your fat ass over to the television set every time you wanted to change the channel?” The answer for most is probably no.
People are focused on the short-term.
The Maher quote above also illustrates the way humans act when faced with a short-term versus long-term issue. We tend to care about now, and not the future. As a result we see a chronic failure to save (when we’d rather spend now) and a wave of lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, lung cancer, and liver disease, all of which usually come about after years of bad short-term decisions.
People want to succeed, but they define success differently.
We are goal-driven biological organisms – we want to survive and thrive. Long ago that drive was focused on actual survival, but with our calorie-rich and safety-net-filled culture, survival is assumed, and we’re now able to focus on new goals. But we set those goals in the context of what we see as our reality.
A drug dealer is pursuing success as he sees it: He sees wealth and is attracted to it, sees that he cannot succeed through the traditional channels, and sees the money you can earn with drugs – so, despite the dangers and the morals of the situation, he is rationally pursuing success as he defines it through the channels available to him. The lesson: People need to find a vision of success and a realistic path to realize it.
They will act with the right motivation.
We’ll put up with a lot, but when something or someone important to us is threatened – our kids, our spouses, our property –we’ll act strongly and decisively.
Not sure where to go with this, but it’s interesting food for thought.