Greg T. Spielberg

“We did not fear our future, we shaped it.”

In Self-actualization on March 22, 2010 at 6:55 am

I caught the tail end of Obama’s health-care-reform victory speech thanks to a video JimMacMillan embedded on his site. Two positives ensued:

1) I got to hear Obama’s celebratory closing of a health care debate that lasted more than a year. If we go back to Clinton — 16 years. Yesterday, I listened to Obama’s final speech to Washington Democrats, where he told his team: If this bill doesn’t help your constituency, don’t vote for it. Don’t vote for it. Keeping lawmakers focused on their community allowed Obama to pitch the health-care vote as a local move rather than a national one.

It’s easier to move small, and by thinking small, we fear less. I remember Bush/Rove/Cheney using fear by framing discussions in terms of national and international stakes. Axis of Evil, un-American, Old Europe. Current Republicans framed the health-care debate by using socialism, government and America. Obama used “constituents” and letters from individual Americans.

Soon, a journalist will provide us insight into the language Obama’s team used in private to swing voters around to his side. How he convinced Kucinich to join the fight so publicly. For now I’ll assume he emphasized the influence health care reform will have on small groups, or individuals. (The Economist gives a high-level view of Pelosi’s work but with mushy specifics.)

2) I followed a tweeted reference to Jim MacMillan’s Web site, where I watched tonight’s video, and it introduced me to MacMillan. I signed up for Twitter last Feb/March at the recommendation of Shirley Brady, then-community editor at BusinessWeek. I was at BW from Jan.-Aug. helping build community, reporting and blogging, and treated Twitter as an afterthought. I was more compelled to build internal community, and saw external social media as a tidal movement that would not stick to one technological platform and therefore one platform like Twitter didn’t seem that interesting.

My recent investment in Twitter, and the people who dedicate time to communicating via tweets, is a change. So is this blog. Since leaving BusinessWeek, I procrastinated in choosing a path. I enjoy building community, business development, branding and writing. I feared shaping my future because I saw any form of commitment as a grand proclamation of the direction of my life. And choosing a direction, I think, means eliminating most others. Like Republicans in the health care debate, leaving all options open means getting nothing done. It reminds me of The Bell Jar and this Sylvia Plath quote:

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground.

I’ve been a evangelizer for community for the past few years. The power of social media, the value community has for journalism companies, readers, editors, publishers and branders. I spent months at Mizzou libraries and my Lower East Side apartment pulling together media-economic theories to justify our industry’s future in community models. Yet after graduation, I disengaged rather than making a choice about which part of journalism to focus on.

I consider myself a writer. I didn’t write. I consider myself a community builder. I didn’t build. I thought I was perfect for every listed job. I applied half-heartedly. I froze myself, chilly in the crotch of a fig tree. I was the modern conservative I despised, without their special power to act as road blocks for everyone else. All fear, no solutions.

I’m not them, or that, or me frozen. I am a fig-eater. Nam nam nam.

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