The Big Three
In my time in the West especially, a theme has started to form out of people's stories. It speaks to the 3 big concepts that people find and see meaning through:
Almost everyone I've spoken with has a set of experiences and opinions around these three ideas that shapes how they view their community, their economy, their politics, and their life. reading past profiles through this lens starts to show the trend there as well. To be clear, the definitions of these ideas are not at all agreed upon. Freedom, for example, has been defined in dozens of ways:
- Being left alone to do anything by anyone and everyone as long as it doesn't hurt someone else
- The support and resources to improve one's economic lot in life
- Something as simple as the money and time to go on a vacation
- A culture that allows people to talk about differences without getting in a fight
But what doesn't change is that almost without fail, Americans have a way of understanding the world through the lens of Freedom. The same is true for Love. Love has been interesting as a lens less because of the difference in definition than in its scope. On the whole, people think of love the same way: a sort of caring dedication of time, energy and self to someone. The spectrum to which people apply their love is different.
- Love of family is a very common inner ring for where love applies
- Love of community is less common but still prevalent, especially in smaller towns
- Love of environment is another second tier dedication
- Love of country is usually articulated through military service and often leapfrogs the local loves above
- Love of other states, other neighborhoods, interestingly is not often talked about even though it should technically be within "love of country"
Optimism is a key to understand deeper into peoples worlds. It is more concrete than hope, more visceral. It says whether people expect the circumstances of their life to improve. It is a determiner of whether people have the will to imagine a life where their world is better. Optimism is a light switch. Some people have circumstances or characters that enable easy optimism about their world, others don't. But there is a lot to be understood by whether people have optimism for their lives. If they do, what is it about. If they don't why not? What has stolen their optimism from them. These are some keys to the emotional life and health of people and communities. They are guideposts for how we should be addressing the nations problems