Friday, May 23, 2008

It's American to disagree

So I came across a black-and-white ad in a magazine that shows Rev. Al Sharpton sitting cordially next to Rev. Pat Robertson on a couch. They’re laughing like pals. Weirder, the couch is on the beach, presumably photoshopped on there. The caption: “It’s American to disagree. It’s also American to come together in the face of a challenge. And few challenges are as urgent as global climate change …”

The next day, I saw another ad, this one with Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich, again on a couch, in front of the Capitol building. Looks even more photoshoppy. And where the two good reverends at least look like they’re having fun, these two Speakers look like they’re gritting their teeth and seething behind their smiles. Newt is sinking into his side of the couch while Nancy is perched like a bird next to him.

The ad directs us to, which, while it’s hard to tell what actions it actually performs, certainly has a nice message about a movement of people to help “solve the climate crisis.”

The ads are funny, and it would be easy for a cynic to mock the sentiment. But when did we subconsciously pass the moment when climate change became a commonly accepted mainstream concept? Was it An Inconvenient Truth? It seems like it was just a few years ago that it was difficult getting any politician or public official to take global warming seriously, let alone Republicans. But today, politicians are leaping over one another to seem environmentally sound, and the majority of products and advertisements tout their environmental accreditations. (I don’t want to imply any of these specific people are insincere; Gingrich did write a book on the environment, after all.)

This is a common Secret Peace trend:

  1. An idea that was once rare or scorned becomes more mainstream.
  2. A tipping point is reached after which it is gauche to disagree with the idea.
  3. People are forced to jump on the bandwagon and pretend to agree with it, even if they harbor doubts or resentments towards the new idea.
  4. Eventually (after a generation at the most), since everyone has been publicly supporting the idea, peoples’ views subconsciously shifts into genuine support.
Examples abound. It happened/is happening with every civil right, with gay rights in the process now. It’s also why Iran and China claim to be democracies. It’s exciting when the pattern happens over a short enough time span that we can notice.


Bruce N. said...

"A tipping point is reached after which it is gouache to disagree with the idea."

Did you mean "gauche"?

IIRC, gouache is an art material (or perhaps that was the joke?)

Jesse Richards said...

Yeah, I could pretend I meant gouache (which I've used plenty of times before for painting), but no, that was a typo. Thanks.

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