We, as humans, are instinctively social beings, organizing ourselves into groups and societies. This form of collaboration offers us security and allows us to flourish. Within these social organizations, whether they are at the international, the state, or the sub-state level, similar questions arise: how do we prosper as a society with a limited number of resources?
The day to day running of a society is known as governance, but the decision made on how to allocate finite resources is the domain of politics. This is where we see competing ideas on whom should get those resources, and how they should receive them. These decisions are what we deliberate over, and it is where we see much contention arise.
Conflict is a natural part of our daily lives, and for the most part it is quite minor. It is healthy to have disagreements with others, and the world would be quite dull without it. The secret of being successful with contentious issues is to try to understand all the positions of the other parties, and to explore the common interests that lie below the surface. Such endeavours can bring forth compromise, along with mutually acceptable solutions.
We live in society, however, where we have been taught to be adversarial, to look to ‘zero-sum’ solutions (all or nothing) to problems, which can be detrimental to the fabric of society. This approach only produces winners and losers, polarizing our communities, and undermining the respect needed for our world to be functional.
Wherever we look today in politics, through whatever medium we follow, this seems to be the modus operandi of not just our politicians, but citizenry as a whole. The politics of the United States has dominated the media over the past year, which has been a distraction. Be we have not been immune up here in Canada. Alberta’s politics, along with our own community’s politics, here in St. Albert, has been plagued with such negativity, with people becoming entrenched in their positions.
Will we be able to climb down from these political hills to work together in the future?
This is an interesting question to ponder as we herald in the new year, for this time of year is the harbinger of hope. Though there were many conflicts in the past, can we find hope in a more collaborative future? As social beings, we have to learn to live and work together, and we have the human potential to do so. Being divided and placating the interests of specific factions within society never works, but through striving to be better, to improve upon all aspects of society, and ourselves, we can be more prosperous.
Happy New Year, and may your hearts be filled with hope!