Are you wondering what Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (US, Canada, UK), is all about? Here are the Table of Contents, and the beginning portion to the Preface (A Common Language). Read a description of Our Last Option here.
Table of Contents
Preface: A Common Language
Chapter 1 Dictating Cultural Normalcy
Chapter 2 Reconciliation
Chapter 3 In-Person Interaction
Chapter 4 Bridges Instead of Armies
Chapter 5 Fidelity
Chapter 6 Contemporary Models of Civic Engagement
Chapter 7 Composite Engagement Model and Religion
Chapter 8 Composite Engagement Model and Politics
Preface: A Common Language
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges is noted for proclaiming, “Language is our first step towards salvation. We cannot fight what we cannot describe” (2011). The truth in that statement runs much deeper than its high retweet probability. It goes all the way to the societal truth that founded the modern era of American culture. In 1864, while addressing the Sanitary Fair in Baltimore, Maryland, Abraham Lincoln poignantly spoke to the need for clarity and commonality in linguistic understanding.
“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word “liberty” may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.” (April 18)
As noted by Lincoln’s address, incompatibility within cultural linguistics is nothing new. One of the greatest lessons contemporary society can learn from the world’s history with war is that without a common set of metrics to engage divisive topics, mutually beneficial outcomes cannot happen. Societies, no matter how technologically, economically, or governmentally advanced, will not be able to come together to work towards holistic and sustainable advancement if different populations within the same society understand its most pressing issues by using the same word, but, depending on the population, have completely different definitions.
Lincoln’s analysis in 1864 is just as applicable to the disconnects in most contemporary Western societies. Instead of “liberty” in Lincoln’s time, it is “sin” or “civic engagement” or “human rights” or “marriage” today. The result is always the same: with any given topic, each of the opposing populations believes they have the correct definition, and therefore the correct worldview. That scenario always ends in a fight.
Therefore, before moving any further, there must be a clear set of metrics used to define the key terminology throughout this research. In alphabetical order, you will find definitions for the most referenced terminology.
I then go on to define (in alphabetical order) Christianity, Civic Engagement, Conservative, Culture, LGBT, Mainstream, Normal, Politics, Progressive, and Worldview–so that all who read this book will, from the very onset, be on the same page as I dive into these very important and culturally divisive topics.
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