I write these words as a citizen yearning for a better, more just country; as a citizen crying out against oppression and its consequences; as a citizen outraged by our nation’s current sociopolitical disaster and profoundly disappointed in our leadership, on all sides.

But I also write as a citizen who believes that we can and will do better; as a citizen who refuses to die in the face of despair; as a citizen who will never lose hope in humanity and in our future.

Our systems are broken, and our country is now on a precipice.

Twenty, thirty, or even 244 years ago would have been the ideal time to reflect on our trajectory, before we arrived at this point. But now, more than ever, if we want any hope of escaping this crisis, or any hope of mitigating its effects, we must have conversations rooted in the unvarnished truth to understand its origins.

This treatise is my attempt to start one such conversation.

It is my attempt as a citizen to make sense of how we arrived at the chaotic, violent inflection point of today. It is my attempt to begin writing a better future for our country and all of its citizens.

No matter how righteous our causes may be, they will mean nothing if we no longer exist.

I recognize that, at present, many people may not be in a pensive mood to ponder the origins of the current crisis. As we engage in the greatest electoral fight of our lives, there is talk of war in our country. We are steeling ourselves for battle; many of us have already taken sides.

Yet, if we are now on the brink of civil war, the strategies we have employed to date clearly have not been working properly.

Even for those who may be on the “right” side of the conflict — and the world is rarely black and white — their efforts to date have failed to forestall an impending catastrophe that may wreak an unfathomable human toll. No matter how righteous our causes may be, they will mean nothing if we no longer exist.

Before rushing to blame others — as all sides have done for the past four years — we must turn inward.

We must probe the depths of our humanity. We must question our assumptions. We must grapple with our prejudices. We must reimagine the way forward.

Therefore, I write this treatise now, because, even in the event of war, we must understand its origins, we must understand our own role, and we must understand our enemy — that is, if we wish to develop effective strategy to make the war as short as possible and to minimize the cost to human life.

We must probe the depths of our humanity. We must question our assumptions. We must grapple with our prejudices. We must reimagine the way forward.

I also write this treatise for our posterity — because we must document each stage of crisis for the historical record, and because future generations must draw lessons from the current events to build a better world.

For readers who wish to join me in this conversation, it is my hope that you will bring an open heart and open mind to the discussion, even if some of the positions I adopt may be unpopular.

I also hope that you can find the courage to press the pause button on many of the beliefs you may have developed over these past four years — because we must acknowledge that even if our beliefs hold truth, many of them have led us astray, as the stakes of our current predicament show.

Because I believe, as I will go on to describe, that an obsession with identity politics has helped bring our society to the current precipice, I wish not to dwell on my identity.

Most of all, I hope that this treatise will be read as coming from a member of humanity who, like all fellow human beings, has a unique background and lived experience and whose complexity transcends any label.

The treatise also comes from a human being who, like all others, is imperfect. I am still learning, and I will always be learning. Therefore, it is my hope that readers will accept any mistakes I may make. I acknowledge in advance that I may make plenty, and I am sorry for those.

When I make a mistake, I hope others will help to educate me, respectfully, rather than denigrate me.

After learning my mistakes, I promise that I will then do better. In any candid conversation, I believe mistakes will be inevitable.

Nevertheless, I am certain that some readers will interpret this treatise from the lens of my identity and, consequently, may or may not be surprised by my arguments.

Therefore, let me also add a few words about who I am.

In general, I would identify myself as a progressive, at least in terms of the moral values I hold in my heart, if not all of the methods employed by the progressive movement.

Through both academic research and activism, I have spent my entire adult life working on matters of human rights and social justice, more so globally than locally.

I am a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, and some of my research addresses racial disparities in educational achievement. Anyone who wishes to know where I stand on social matters can review my record of remarks or my body of work.

But, more than anything, more than a progressive or conservative, more than a Democrat or Republican, I identify myself as an American.

My writing here will be geared toward a progressive audience, because that audience is the one I am most familiar with and because I believe the progressive movement has made fundamental mistakes in pursuing its goals.

Finally, while I consider myself a well-read citizen and formally study governance and community development, I am far from a subject matter expert on every topic in this treatise, especially given its wide-ranging nature. Nevertheless, I will represent each topic to the best of my ability.

In the course of my analysis, I will employ certain generalizations.

Generalization always comes with pitfalls, for the world is more nuanced than summaries can ever allow. Every group of people — including Trump voters, for example — is heterogeneous, whether in terms of background, belief, interest, or motivation.

Where these heterogeneities are most notable, I will do my best to highlight them. However, as I will draw generalizations for the purpose of simplicity, readers should keep in mind that reality remains more complex than anything I can convey herein.

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Josh Greenberg

Josh Greenberg

Human, activist, scholar. Physician-Economist-in-training @UMich. CEO @proghealth. @FulbrightPrgrm Awardee. I work on anything that matters, locally & globally.