Moving the Needle

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“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.” – Timothy Leary 

Today I was determined to get a blog post done.

I feel like a caged bird, and I haven’t had a chance to sing, so I am going to write a few paragraphs about what’s been going on in my head since I’ve been missing in action. Beyonce’s Formationmade headlines, a few (or quite a few) Republican candidates finally dropped out, there’s been a mass millennial revolt against Hillary, and I can’t help but notice the story that hits me to the core… my favorite player, Peyton Manning, may or may not be a good guy… who knows? (Kanye and Kendrick get honorable mentions for doing what they do best, Kanye made headlines for being crazy and Kendrick for a compelling performance at the Grammys) … Of course, I do not have time to write about all of these things, and there are plenty of other issues brewing, such as Trump’s unwavering support. He attacked the Pope ya’ll.

However, as I thought about these headlines and our continued infatuation with celebrity, I couldn’t help but think of the term, “moving the needle”.  The literal definition is referring to the needle on a measurement instrument such as a scale, compass, speedometer, etc. On a scale, your weight makes a significant difference and moves the needle, or like your foot on a gas pedal. Now, the expression, “moving the needle” for the purpose of this post refers to our internal compass, and how does the needle move, what makes a significant difference in its movement? Where do we stand morally, personally, spiritually, or even professionally? We each have one that dictates the decisions that we make, the people we befriend, and even where we spend our money. We inform our compass through experiences, information, and things that we see through our eyes. In my mind, our compass should not be quickly moved based on external factors.

BUT….

At this point in our society, with the Twitterverse, THE Facebook, snapchat, and the other million ways, we have several touch points for our minds with images, words and videos that inform our mindset, our decisions and most of all, our internal compass. Once upon a time, people had more time to hear something, read something and have time to PROCESS information at a slower pace. At this ancient time, people were slower to move the needle to their moral compass, right? Public and personal opinion was not quickly altered based on 140 characters. Mistakes essentially can’t be made, because we have zero tolerance, moving the needle is easy. It’s as if a significant difference can be based on something so small.

But why?  It’s more than instant gratification. Well, unless making decisions or forming opinions instantaneously brings you some form of pleasure, it is more than that. The definition of a decision is “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration”. But we are failing to take time to think and have the “after consideration” part. We decide and think later, and sometimes maybe never. And by the time, one person makes a hasty decision, there are flocks of “robots” ready to follow.

But how did we get here? Because we have always been there. GOTCHA! I know right, when I started doing research into ancient democracies, I find that each generation, maybe in a different form have struggled with the thoughts of a few dictated the moves of the masses. Democracy doesn’t discriminate against who the people listen to, it’s just tradition that the smartest, loudest, and sometimes most well-spoken and richest grab the attention of the masses… as it did in ancient Greece:

“Of this group, perhaps as few as 100 citizens – the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers – dominated the political arena both in front of the assembly and behind the scenes in private conspiratorial political meetings (xynomosiai) and groups (hetaireiai). Critics of democracy, such as Thucydides and Aristophanes, also pointed out that the dēmos could be too easily swayed by a good orator or popular leaders (the demagogues) and get carried away with their emotions. Perhaps the most famous bad decision from the Athenian democracy was the death sentence given to the philosopher Socrates in 399 BCE.” – (source )

So we have always been here. In democracy, the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers are heard. So this is why Donald Trump is here. Bernie is here. And even Beyoncé. The world was in a frenzy with Queen Bey, because often black stars and athletes aren’t able to use their platforms in the same capacity. Because we (America) are not used to listening despite having wealth and influence. Case and point: Oprah. If we look at Oprah’s effect on Barack Obama’s campaign in 2007, her influence was huge (source), yet she rarely wields her expertise in this area. Although it is old news, I remember her being heavily criticized for coming out and supporting Obama, yet she had a heavy influence on so many other areas of American life. Just google Oprah and her influence and see what you find. So why not in the political arena? Not that I personally want her there (not a fan), but if the Koch Brothers can do it, why not her? I digress.

Another example, 8 months before the Supreme Court decided to legalize gay marriage, the most powerful man in the Tech world, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wrote a piece in the Bloomberg Business Week called, spelling out that he was gay. (source). Now it’s easy to say, Barack wouldn’t have won without Oprah’s influence, and the Supreme Court was likely going to pass the legislation regardless of any outside force as they are supposed to do. But I think we would be naïve to believe that our leaders, in any industry, affect policy, because the reality is that they do, and it is important for us to understand, believe, and hold our leaders accountable for speaking for us.

I definitely have come around to this notion (read my old blog posts), because I personally want to believe that people should be of their own mind, and not be influenced by others, but history would tell us this is a lie. There is a responsibility for the populous, for us to be informed, so that we can make smarter decisions about who we choose to follow, but people with money, power and influence must be responsible with their actions. We need our leaders to move the needle. But intentionally and deliberately. I cannot not write enough posts about how we need to be paying attention to this upcoming election, Republicans and Democrats, and we should drive the issues that matter to us. I think Donald Trump is a baboon, but the people he’s speaking for are out there screaming and supporting him. Bernie and Hillary are talking about black lives, because of the Black Lives Matter. So yeah… let’s get with it, and move the needle.

I’m Back, move the needle with me.

M/P

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