Archives for the month of: June, 2012

As some know, I have begun a monthly column published at Ethics Newsline, the flagship publication for the Institute for Global Ethics and one which I helped develop when I worked at that organization. This month’s column is about recent research that sheds light on just how divided we are — in public vs. in private life.

Ethics Newsline

Only Divided Because We Think We Are

It is conventional wisdom among those who worry about the strength of civil society that Americans are polarized due in large part to the rhetoric of the political and media elites. Deep down, we are not so different from our neighbors, but the messages we hear from the news shows and from political podiums is that we must vanquish our foes lest the nation spiral ever downward.

New research by the Pew Research Center adds nuance to that, and provides a troubling counterpoint. According to this new report, Americans have remained moderately divided on important issues when traditional demographic measures are taken into account — race, gender, age, income status, etc. The differences have remained steady at (depending on the marker) between 4 and 14 percent from 1987 to 2012.

During this same period, however, the difference between Democrats and Republicans has climbed rather steadily and steeply, from 10 percent in 1987 to 18 percent today.

Put simply, the parties are pulling farther and farther apart.

And it’s not just the parties. While it is true that people have been abandoning both parties in public opinion surveys, so that “Independent” is now an important designation, the truth is that most Independents lean one way or another.

“Even when the definition of the party bases is extended to include these leaning independents, the values gap has about doubled between 1987 and 2012,” according to the researchers.

That’s the bad news. But there is also good news, mixed with a warning call, when we look more closely. Because it is not truly the case that people are drifting apart when it comes to values — it is our institutions drifting apart, leaving us behind.

(Continued . . .)

Read the full piece here.

I’m pleased to announce that the Case Foundation has released a new report co-authored by me (with Cynthia Gibson) titled To Be Fearless.

The report, commissioned for the Case Foundation’s fifteenth anniversary, is an exploration of what it means for organizations in the social sector to be fearless. It is rooted in five key principles:

  1. Make Big Bets and Make History. Set audacious, not incremental, goals.
  2. Experiment Early and Often. Don’t be afraid to go first.
  3. Make Failure Matter. Failure teaches. learn from it.
  4. Reach Beyond Your Bubble. It’s comfortable to go it alone. But innovation happens at intersections.
  5. Let Urgency Conquer Fear. Don’t overthink and overanalyze. Do.

The To Be Fearless Report lays out the framework for a wide-ranging initiative by the Case Foundation to spark a conversation about fearlessness across the social sector. It was released at an event streamed live on Ustream featuring Jean and Steve Case, Sen. Mark Warner, Walter Isaacson (CEO of the Aspen Institute and Steve Jobs’ biographer), and many notable social sector leaders.

The full report is available for free download at the Case Foundation’s web site.

Steve Case, Jean Case, Walter Isaacson