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Not having enjoyed an Ivy League education or postgraduate studies on the tenets of philosophy, I can’t pontificate on the ontological concepts in Heidegger’s Being and Time versus Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. So I get my philosophy from pop culture, and few have summed it up better than Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of intelligent Life in the Universe: “Reality is nothing but a collective hunch.”
The realities that humans share have evolved over the millennia, as have the mechanisms for building consensus. At no time in the past have individuals been more inundated with information—yet our ability to share the same set of facts seems to be eroding. One could point to the demise of the FCC Fairness Doctrine back in 1987, which removed the requirement for news media to air opposing views, or finger the rise of social media, where curated information feeds lead to intellectual myopia. But the end result is the same: disconnected pockets of the citizenry stuck in their own hardened media silos, lobbing verbal missile attacks.
Part of the problem is that so much of what we absorb as fact in our daily lives is actually opinion. Some persuade with informed analysis, skilfully presented; others use passionate assertion to repeat notions until they take on the aura of truth.
At California Local, we will focus on concrete, tangible objects and phenomena that make up our shared reality. In each county that California Local covers, we will explore the glue that ties the populace together. We may not all share the same views, but we do share the same sidewalks, freeways and airports. We enjoy the same beautiful weather, and struggle with the drought and fires that result from those cloudless skies. We share the same bricks and mortar in our commercial districts, and the same waterways, hillsides and green meadows that still remain in the corners of our built environments.
And we share the same demands for efficient waste management, a stable electrical grid, a responsible police force, and well-maintained recreational facilities. We all pay taxes, and we all have the right to government services. But don’t we also have the responsibility to serve?
Look around the directories on California Local and you’ll find many individuals who are serving their community: through volunteer work, participation in local commissions and committees, working for city governments, and serving in legislative offices. Think of these directories as a toolbox for exploring your county. Learn about its institutional infrastructure, its nonprofit organizations, and the physical spaces where groups can congregate.
We also offer a place where members of California Local can exchange ideas. In our Voices section, members can participate in discussions and air their views on local issues. These discussions will focus on real issues: specific local challenges that could lead to fresh solutions. With the help of California Local’s Member Code of Conduct, we will engage in courteous, constructive dialogue—and not just take up fixed positions on an all-too-familiar ideological battleground.
Together we can build more resilient communities—both those based on geography, and those based on common interests. And along the way, we may find ourselves sharing a more accurate collective hunch.
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Articles in which we try to explain ourselves.