Work Across Factions

At KLC we talk about factions as those groups with similar values and loyalties, and that they might share a similar loss if change takes place. What we have noticed over time is loyalties often trump values. People rarely let loss speak, so often our teaching is focused there. 

What I have found interesting with so many factions today, is how their values seem so similar: life, security, safety, patriotism, health, environment, and yet extreme loyalties keep everyone at arms distance. How did loyalty get so big?

My metaphor for the times we are living in may be the humble Dorito.

It’s rise to the top of the tortilla food chain category has come from peppering a fairly plain chip with ‘extreme’ flavor. Remember the Super Bowl ads with Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman (Doritos Blaze paired with Mountain Dew Ice)? The pairing of extremes – not unlike the Super Bowl itself.

What we have is a world defined almost exclusively by extremes – sports channels, news channels, reality television, political associations, red states, blue states, urban, rural, rich, poor, and the list could go on.

There is even extreme yodeling on YouTube. How do you take yodeling ‘all the way to 11?’ Why?

Anyway, I am curious why we put so much energy into avoiding what’s in the middle.

I think our obsession with the extreme is in part what makes our progress so slow. To say we are extreme in our loyalty to x, y, or z may give us a pass on having to think through anything very complex. It may drive our need for a ‘fix’ to situations that require far more time and sophistication to make any progress at all. 

I think this all began long ago. Momma Jane points to the demise of the front porch and expanse of the privacy fenced-in backyard, deck and heated pool when she first noticed the community fabric start to unravel. Reverend Phil pointed out the social isolation headphones created in the early Walkman as a sad turning point for society. And now we all carry a glowing lozenge of technology in our pocket or purse that sedates us night and day.

It has never been more easy to be intentionally disconnected – in the extreme. We all have our own playlist – and it set to repeat, infinitely.

I suppose the case I am making is that we are all being driven (and riding along quite willingly) to unquestioning brand loyalty. And that brand is our tribe. And our tribe is extreme.

At one point holding two opposing ideas and still being able to function was the sign of first rate intelligence. Now it’s called flip-flopping, indecisiveness, bland, or out of touch. Even in politics the independent is seen as the spoiler for one party or the other.  And what’s more, to take a step away from the extreme is to be declared disloyal.

I wonder if our work across factions language contributes to this view of extremism. Maybe it should simply be work with factions. Maybe it should be examine the extreme loyalties you and others hold. Maybe something else. Let me know your thoughts.

For now, I suggest we all put the phone down. Take the headset off. Leave the back yard. Forget what the tribe thinks and have a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a bottle of beer or whatever you chose with someone whom you share a value, but not a loyalty and see what you might learn.