Hey everybody! Welcome aboard the Cube, my new forum and yours! This is the place to get it out there, bat it around, and see what's happening around the human race, while it lasts (misplaced modifier totally intentional). You are the charter crew of a new vessel, and we're about to cruise the galaxy looking for civilized life forms...
With the unexpected success of my latest article, I'm looking to respond to what my readers are bringing me. There is something very appealing, apparently, to a style that shows a seeking of balance and civility in discussing difficult or controversial material. As a new contributor to Newsvine, at first it seemed imperative to pursue both balance and focus in the threads that followed my publications. But the readership is saying something a little different than I expected: the balance and the commitment to etiquette and decency in this kind of forum are clearly important, but perhaps the focus doesn't always have to be controlled too tightly.
While I do intend to put together some articles in the future that are more sharply focused on specific topics, with this format I want to try something new, at least for this author. So I'm launching the I, Borg Cube, a sort of combination chat room/op-ed page/hangout for my growing list of supportive vinesters, and with hopes of gathering in some more folks that want to converse in a friendly but challenging environment.
The concept is not fully developed for me, and if past contributions are any indicator, will be developed by my readers and commenters as much as by any attempt on my part to lay out any confining set of guidelines. So, here's the idea, to start off:
- With each new edition (on a timetable to be determined in progress) I will share a few thoughts of my own, and then open the floor for discussion. These might be current events, anecdotes, revelations, points of curiosity, maybe even a joke or two if something catches me in the funny bone.
- All I ask is that contributors maintain basic etiquette and refrain from an excess of acrimonious remarks toward other participants here. This does not by any means rule out heated debate (which I encourage), partisan arguments, or introduction of sensitive subject matter. Newsvine seems to be a pretty self-regulating environment, and some of the threads I have visited have been quite civilized even though loaded with controversy and disagreement. My task as your host will be to converse and make everyone welcome, and only intervene if content begins to strain an atmosphere of hospitality and open dialogue. I have much faith that those who have visited with me up 'til now, as well as those who have yet to appear on my columns, will continue to be supportive of this approach.
- If I'm any good at this over time, I hope we can all have a lot of fun, discover some new pathways for examining our world and our situations, share some resources and insights, and work together on an expanding dialogue dedicated to civilized conduct, reasonable solution-seeking, and an enjoyable environment of common ground and shared humanity.
So, here's some stuff that's on my mind these days:
- Many of you know I am the proud daddy of a six-year-old girl, whom I mention often. I also have a thirteen-year-old son who lives with his mother and whom I rarely see, as well as two stepdaughters, nineteen and twenty-five. The scenarios that have emerged in all these different versions of parenting for me have been a big challenge, and one where I haven't always been totally satisfied with my performance, but I keep trying.
- On a national and patriotic level, I worry about the future for all these young people. It seems many of the norms of my lifetime will not be there for them. After all, I grew up in an analog age, spent most of my adulthood in peacetime and an age of relative prosperity, not to mention a demographic setting where I could take for granted being of a dominant ethnic group. All this has changed before my eyes and rather quickly. Finding a frame of reference to connect with these youngsters, who are themselves spread out across two decades of entry points into life, is an ongoing struggle.
- It seems the two super-factions or super-ideologies in America, call them right and left, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, what have you, are growing further and further apart. There even seems to be a commitment on both parts in most settings to add to a climate of alienation and polarization. I'm not real big on choosing sides and acting out of blind loyalty, over good faith and common sense, but this too seems to be getting on toward obsolescence as a world view.
- I see politicians and pundits of a right-wing slant making more and more outrageous remarks and exhibiting increasing levels of judgment and intolerance, and often to cheering crowds. Meanwhile, the more liberal persuasion seems to be getting mobilized (such as with the "Occupy Everything" phenomenon), but in a dithering and unfocused way.
- I had a live feed from New York on the other night of a planning session held in the dark with a megaphone with some few dozen or more people. The folks running the thing were complaining about too many proposals for "actions" and not knowing where to start. They began batting around the idea of breaking up into smaller groups to narrow it down. Then I went downstairs for some family time and came back probably three hours later, and the same group was still debating whether to break up into smaller groups, attended by shouts from the back of the crowd of "Louder!", "We can't hear!", which I have heard a lot at such gatherings and tend to think are highly symbolic.
- That same day I reviewed some right-wing punditry and statements made by candidates in the primary race. The poisonous hate was unmistakable, and seemed to be feeding on itself, and obviously appealing to some audience for reasons that escape me.
- Is this just what's in the air these days? Is 2011, with its Arab Spring and its Wisconsin union battles and its Occupancies, another 1968, or 1848, another year where getting out in the streets and chanting and ranting is just what's going on?
Now I leave it up to all of you. I'll be around, and I'm looking forward to seeing where we take this.
Welcome aboard the Cube!