The way we live now IS NOT the only way people can live

Building a robust, high functioning pluralist smart society capable of ushering in better futures requires… a bit of thinking.

Luckily, imagination is (so far) our superpower

To me the important thing is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live. It is that inertia that allows the institutions of injustice to continue unquestioned. – Ursula K Le Guin

In a report published last november 2022, Imagining Better Futures for American Democracy, a collaboration between Suzette Brooks Masters and the Democracy Funders Network, 64 people were interviewed on a number of questions concerning democracy (in the U.S.):

We asked a diverse and thoughtful group of informants about the futures they’d like to see, how to get there, and who is inspiring them.

Here is my selection of interesting (surely biased) findings. The whole report is worth reading.

  • Few interviewees saw governance as critical to achieving the better futures they articulated, or had thought about how to improve and reimagine democracy
  • The future-oriented community seldom connects with the democracy community

Imagining better futures (Positive Visions) is important:

  • It acts as a North Star providing a direction and purpose
  • It provides hope and empowerment as a powerful antidote to despair, powerlessness, and inertia

Main challenges:

  • Partisanship and polarization
  • Loss of trust in democratic institutions
  • Dominance of negative media narratives
  • Corrosive effects of scarcity, conflict, and individualism

Governance Relationship with Positive Visions:

  • Agnostic about future governance
  • Building trust in our existing governance system
  • Reforming our governance system
  • Community-based and tech-enabled governance experiments
  • Transforming governance for a new era

Frankly, our democracy isn’t that great a system. It’s a winner take all system that has lots of flaws –Amanda Ripley

There are lots of democratic experiments happening locally –Gideon Lichfield

Games may be our most powerful form of media for cultivating an amplified sense of agency. More than ever, we need to borrow from the science of game design to create stories and experiences that cultivate agency in the gut. –Benjamin Stokes

Representative democracy has run its course and is no longer fit for purpose. –Cat Tully

We are at a crossroads moment in human history –Ari Wallach

Please, dislodge your mind from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live.


Featured Image: Pew Research Center

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