To cut to the chase: November 3rd, Election Day 2020, is a chance to vote for American leadership that respects and upholds the institutions we rely on – no matter how flawed and imperfect – to uphold all of us as we all work our damnedest to make our lives and the lives of others around us just a little bit better. Please join me in voting to uphold our democracy, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. If you’re not sure how or where to vote, go here. Remember: voting early helps the whole system work better!
If you’re interested, here are a few different points that give more context as to why I’m sharing this plea with you here today.
Upholding those who uphold us isn’t just Landed’s purpose.
From the start, our team has held pretty firmly to the idea that our purpose as a group of busy-beavers is to “uphold those who uphold us” because “we’re in this together.” We most often speak about this in terms of our local communities and upholding the essential professionals who teach our kids, help us when we’re sick, help us in an emergency, and so on. But this purpose is also very true for every citizen of planet Earth: our wellbeing and ability to build the lives we each individually want relies on upholding one another – we cannot deny the truth that we’re in this thing called life together.
This universal purpose to uphold each other is best realized by ensuring we have ever-improving systems of democratic self-governance which enable more and more freedom for each of us as individuals. In the American context, central to the “ever-improving” part is our willingness to accept that some of what we’ve been brought up to believe may be a bit exaggerated: rugged individualism, with little to no acknowledgement of just how interconnected we all are, pretending we all live in some sort of vacuum (similar to how my kid nieces and nephews seem to behave...), severely limits our individual potential and thus the potential of our communities. It’s out of reality.
Being true to our purpose to uphold each other, so we can have more of what we each individually want for our lives, requires upholding our democratic systems of government. Far from perfect, these systems best honor the individual perspective while weighing that perspective against the needs of the whole. We must uphold these systems, more so now than ever, so we can continue to improve upon them into the future – so that our kids can take what we’ve been able to do so far and make it far better for their kids.
Disagreeing with, yet committing to, the grander vision is essential.
At Landed, we often discuss the power of “disagreeing and committing.” The concept is simple yet powerful: sometimes it’s essential to accept that the best decision for the company isn’t the decision you’d want if you were in a vacuum, and when it comes to that point, you’re down to commit to the decision made because it’s what the whole needs.
This same sort of concept has come up lately for me, personally, as I engaged relatives of mine who identify very differently than I on the political spectrum. When reaching out about this election in particular with the following message, I was greeted with commitment to vote for change in the places I normally wouldn’t expect it. I was reminded that even if we disagree on much of how we should be acting on our shared values, there’s a reasonable road that is possible when the choice is clear enough:
Hi fam: I know this bunch typically steers clear of political discussion given our often divergent views on leadership and what’s best for our country. Perhaps over time we’ll find ways to do some of this in a way that brings us closer together than divides us (I know I’d like that!), but for the time being I wanted to just share one heartfelt message meant not to alienate anyone but express a deep concern I have for our country and our democracy: whether Republican, Independent or Democrat, what is most important in this upcoming election is that we have people in our government that respect the institutions, believe in treating fellow humans (despite where they come from or what they look like) as I learned Jesus would have, and allow us to continue improving upon this grand experiment of democracy. We have never lived up to the vision we have for our country, but no matter, I’m still prouder than HELL to be American just because we keep striving to be better and fulfill what our founding fathers wanted for us.
As a Black, gay American, it’s very important for me to see myself in the fabric of our society, and I’m afraid I increasingly don’t see this being the case in our country; fuel in the form of rhetoric that makes me feel like an “other” in the very country I love is what worries me. I believe having people in political power that are striving to (no matter how imperfectly) maintain the public sector infrastructure we need in place to keep “playing the game of democracy” so the nieces and nephews can take what we’ve done to date and improve upon it, is essential. It’s what it’s all about! If you’re inclined, please consider this perspective before casting a ballot for our current leadership at this crucial time in our shared history. Much love to you all!
Greed comes in two forms: short-term and long-term. Choose the latter.
When Jonathan, Jesse (my two co-founders) and I first toyed with the idea of what Landed could possibly become (these are those white-boarding days...), we often tested frameworks and ideas on each other to see how they landed and where we would go from there. I distinctly remember Jonathan proposing the idea that, at the end of the day, there were really two choices in vision when building any organization or system. One choice is a fear-based vision that maximizes individual short-term greed in a world of us vs them. The other choice is a growth-based vision that maximizes individual long-term greed in a world that recognizes our individual greed is directly tied to the greed of everyone else.
At first, I bristled at the word “greed.” It seemed icky. But the more we dug, the more we agreed “long-term greed” is synonymous with “abundance for all”. In a world with so many other people striving to “get theirs” as well, you can’t truly be long-term in orientation if you don’t regulate yourself to the real-world constraints you face today (such as limited fossil fuels, clean water, and so on). If you don’t self-regulate to reality, you’ll use it all up and the game will be over. We agreed then that if we design products, services and systems that promote abundance (long-term greed) over scarcity (short-term greed), we’d win (for all of us).
We need leaders in all facets of society -- business, government, nonprofits -- who deeply understand the mechanics of, and believe in, “long-term greed”. The current leadership of the US federal government has not demonstrated they get this, nor believe in it. Change is needed.