The Ultimate Real Estate in a Democracy: Common Ground
As Hawai‘i real estate keeps getting pricier, I keep thinking of a different kind of real estate that is ultimately more valuable in a democracy.
Common ground in our national and local discourse: Priceless.
These are days when people don’t just disagree on issues; they have different sets of facts. And there’s a media voice catering to every opinion, affirming what one already believes, whether it’s true or not.
We all have reason to worry about our democracy, since its health depends upon shared core values, a level of trust in our leaders, and the reliability of information on which to act.
Hawai‘i is by no means seeing the kind of partisan polarization that is gripping the Continent, but we’re struggling to get our arms around and agree upon big issues, such as what to do about homelessness and how to support jobs with increasing automation in the workforce.
PBS Hawai‘i brings together Islanders with differing perspectives to engage directly with each other on many top-of-mind subjects and some issues that aren’t considered enough. Real democracies require real discussion.
This is not the same as what local daily broadcast news operations do – they generally try to tape separate interviews with the parties, and air the contained sound bites in a two-minute story in the newscast. (It’s not easy to convene people who disagree with each other, especially on short notice.)
On our weekly hour-long Insights on PBS Hawai‘i and our periodic two-hour KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall, people on different sides of issues meet face to face – and they’re being televised and streamed live. They show up, because they want to get their message across; because it’s the responsible, responsive thing to do; and because they trust us to treat them fairly. Once in a great while, when an issue is particularly volatile, we’re unable to get pro and con leaders to sit down together. And also infrequently, we end up with a lackluster program because we can’t get participants to depart from canned comments, to have a real conversation.
But most times, participants put aside any discomfort they may feel about engaging directly with opponents or critics and answering follow-up questions from our moderator. The best of these participants truly listen, instead of trying to cut short their opponents or simply waiting for their turn to speak. This leads to candid, meaningful exchanges that help viewers develop their own perspectives.
With today’s complicated societal challenges keeping us at odds and on hold, our mired democracy seriously needs this kind of civil discourse.
When you contribute your hard-earned dollars to PBS Hawai‘i, you are supporting the power of media for public service over profit and politics. And you’re supporting priceless common ground for the common good. Thank you!