The first FrankTalks of the new year took place at Columbia State Community College Monday morning and featured Jim Brown, the Tennessee state director for the National Federation of Independent Business and a lobbyist on Capitol Hill in Nashville.
Brown spoke about his book “Ending Our Uncivil War: A Path to Political Recovery & Spiritual Renewal,” which provides a path to creating a community and a nation of civility and conversation.
Brown began the discussion by displaying a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t believe everything you think,” and explained how the bumper sticker inspired him to do some introspection and self-examination that led him to get back to writing a book he started 10 years earlier about fixing government.
As a state lobbyist, Brown admitted he has seen “the good, the bad and the ugly in politics and policymaking,” and concluded government functions best when power is divided among the political parties and three branches of government as spelled out in the Constitution, but which the federal government seems to have lost sight of.
There are 41 states that “get it,” he said. They have balanced budgets, bills go through a process of discourse and amendments, single subject bills are presented and voted on one at a time and are read by the legislators, he said.
In a “hyper-certain” environment where communication comes in tweets and other impersonal social media and seven-second television clips, or where students isolate themselves in safe places to avoid dissenting opinions and colleges assault the Bill of Rights by banning opposing ideas and free speech, Brown shares his journey back loving his fellow Americans – even those some consider “enemies” based on differing opinions.
“We’ve isolated ourselves thinking we’ve got all the information without having to talk to others,” said Mindy Tate, Franklin Tomorrow executive director and hostess for FrankTalks.
Brown agreed and issued to the audience an invitation to get on a plane – the same invitation he made in the book.
“… (G)et away from the noise – social media – and the dysfunction; get comfortable, then get really uncomfortable,” Brown said. “Put away your political baggage, turn off your smart phones, Fox News and MSNBC; sit by someone you don’t like and don’t understand.”
"Ending Our Uncivil War" is Brown’s attempt to make “sense of the political and spiritual cacophony” and make “systemic and personal changes” to “reposition our politics and culture.”
Brown spoke of the four strategies he developed — service commitment, spiritual renewal, scholastic independence and systemic government reforms. He told the audience and he invites the reader to use the strategies to become better informed, reestablish dialog and rebuild communication lines.
Brown said his service began when his son announced he needed a service project for school. Together, they began serving the homeless every Sunday at Room in the Inn in Nashville. Both father and son learned a lot and continued their service for the past five years.
Service commitment provides opportunities to help others, “gain an understanding of the fear, pain and difficulties” some face and discover shared values. The result is better citizens building better communities while diluting the “selfie culture,” Brown wrote in the book.
“Some folks are getting it,” he said, adding information about developing counter movements on college campuses, which are reversing safe places and reinstituting differing ideas and opinions.
“By isolating ourselves, we are building an echo chamber. This book is about providing the tools to fight back.”