“Why do we keep treating others this way?”
“Why can’t we learn from our past?”
“How did we lose our soul?”
Revolutionary. Civil. World. All impactful words. All tied to major wars that changed the trajectory of humanity. Countless lives were lost and the quality of life forever altered. Each war leaves in its wake calamity, struggles, and pain—and stories of heroism and sacrifice.
We don’t seem to learn from our mistakes. There may be a time and a season of change. For the better. But it is short-lived. The noticeable change is in the ways we fight each other.
The wars rage on today, in different forms. Ones like the Russia/Ukraine conflict pull at our hearts, and challenge us to pause, reflect, and offer whatever help we can—albeit only lending hope that we can one day escape the horrific and haunting disease of war itself.
We witness our government send out large amounts of foreign aid to try and solve the world’s problems, yet within our own communities the struggle is real, and for some families unbearable and even hopeless.
What about the war that’s been building under our feet for years? That of pent-up struggles, abuses, and disregard for each other’s well-being?
What of the Culture War we’re facing?
The Culture War cuts across demographics, groups, companies, and geographies, threatening us all existentially, with the worst outcome of all: alienating us permanently from each other. It’s been fought on the grounds of racial division, political differences, income inequality, and infuriating injustices. These wars rage on in the hearts of people—all of us–struggling to achieve something of meaning while feeling disempowered in our lives. With each side fighting to diminish the other, the conclusion seems out of reach, as it all seems locked in an endless existence. Where does it end?
Families torn apart by disagreements. Past abuses. Pains untold, later unearthed only to offer the ugliest version of what we can be. The blame game amplified. Responsibilities avoided. When does it end?
Companies in high places signaling diversity and propping themselves up as peacemakers while selling media that objectifies women and glorifies violence. Tech founders peddling the virtues of “connecting the world” and encouraging authenticity, while censoring the world and killing free speech—when they don’t like what they hear. Where will all this lead?
A reckoning. The time, the place, the moment, we may not know. But we can sense it. Hitting us from every angle. Storming into our lives. Cutting through the noise. That unsatisfied desire for all the conflict to finally end for good. But it can’t happen too soon. When will people start to lead?
Somethings got to give. And, why now? We had a pandemic, that forever shifted the balance of our universe. We’ve been offered a second chance to re-evaluate everything we thought we valued. Given the gift of questioning all the celebrity-making, shortcuts to success, and synthetic lifestyles. We recognize things have gotten worse, in many ways. And in this wake of change we’ve been stretched beyond the mindset that got us here.
This makes us uncomfortable. It makes us angry.
Leaders continue to disappoint us. We feel abandoned.
Pointing fingers temporarily absolves us from taking responsibility. We get addicted to finding fault before we ever look in the mirror.
“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” – Carl Jung
Despite all this, technology offers glimmers of hope. What if humanity is only in the early innings of what’s possible? What if we’re entering an era of abundance unlike any other? What if AI can help us unlock our potential, giving us freedom to create? What if creativity could help us build better cultures, instead of trying to cancel everything we don’t like?
What if we challenged ourselves to end the Culture Wars for good? Embracing creativity is only part of the solution.
How can we finally end racism for good? What if we could eradicate it completely from off the face of the earth? Can we eliminate the unnecessary suffering we’ve seen? Erase the fighting for position and instead stand for timeless principles. End our obsession with power and inspire a fixation for empathy. To love one another, in the pursuit of good for all.
How have we strayed this far? So far from this basic sense of who we are? So far from our bravest nature, built deep within the DNA of each of us?
What if these answers are already within our reach? And what if we had the courage to unlock it all now?
Together. A simple word. On paper, it leaves no room for error. This is us. More than one. Not against, but for. Even when we disagree. We can stay connected heart to heart. We must stop the either/or trap. Together is the and answer we’ve longed for.
What will it take for us to get there? To that place Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of. That place Abraham Lincoln hoped for. That place in the future where we are one. Not just in theory, but in truth. A place where cultures converge, and the spectrum of all the colors of light come together to form a beautiful collection of ideas, creations, and shared values. Together in a brilliant way.
We’ve seen this. In places like BYU Hawaii, the most diverse college in the world. Where people come together from islands and nations everywhere, to study together, work together, and build the future together.
We’ve seen it in places like Apple, where people speak Hebrew, Chinese, and Italian in the same meetings. All focused on building the same thing: the best products that enrich peoples’ lives.
We’ve seen it at Pixar, where people ask “What if” questions to inspire stories from all walks of life, that bring people together to see the beauty of humanity and all our possibilities.
Why are we making this so hard on ourselves? It is hard. The Culture War is years, decades, even centuries in the making. And we can’t seem to escape it.
How can we build the most beautiful future as one while respecting the core of what makes us brave? A principle-powered future filled with integrity, empathy, in service of each other’s joy.
Culture can shrink or it can expand in brightness. Here are some ways we can expand together:
Use inviting words instead of fighting words
Replace unfair absolutes with inviting questions. Statements like “you always,” or “you never,” close the door to understanding. Instead, we should ask questions like, “Help me understand your thinking on this?” or “Why do you feel this way?” Praise the way people behave and their thoughtfulness. Not just on what people have achieved but in the way they are achieving it. Focus on trying to understand people for who they are instead of what they’ve accomplished.
Don’t try to convince others, focus on the experience
Aim for kindness and respect. Most people are not ready or willing to change their mind. They will always remember how they were treated. Replace heated emotions with helpful principles. Help people feel seen and heard. You might continue to disagree with someone’s position or lifestyle. You can remain respectful.
Suspend expectation for others
Most tension exists because we have expectations for others. We expect them to behave in certain ways when we ourselves fall short at times. It’s better to embody the change we wish to see in the world. If it is tied to true principles, then it has the power to inspire others to make changes in their lives. Lower your expectations with others, and you will be pleasantly surprised instead of being constantly disappointed.
Learn more about co-creative patterns and meta-principles with BraveCore.
Chris Deaver and Ian Clawson are cofounders of BraveCore, a leadership consultancy that’s shaping the future by helping leaders be more creative and creatives be better leaders.