Of Honesty and CommUNITY

I live in a messaging world as a profession, and I will share a trade secret with you all. Top marketers identified this concept on Madison Avenue decades ago, and we now have a multi-generational hive of well-trained consumers as a byproduct. Products for consumption may include goods, services, and ideologies — all of which receive promotional support through sophisticated marketing efforts.

The obstacle is that freethinkers are bad for business. It is far more advantageous to have a consumer base identifying with your product and investing in it personally than someone that thinks for themselves and has no formal allegiances. When a consumer is willing to ‘ride for the brand,’ it becomes much easier to deliver your goods or services without the tremendous effort of convincing them to part with their hard-earned substance. A better outcome is when an individual is so enamored with your product or brand — that they begin to advocate towards their circles of influence on your behalf.

This concept sounds simple enough, but how do you get there? Free markets create competition, and while competing interests are good for innovation, they often adversely affect the bottom line or desired outcome of a cause. In a world of honesty, one would focus exclusively on self-improvement and adopt an attitude of ‘may the best effort win.’ Alternately, we live in a world where the standard practice is to skew consumer perspectives so that their identity becomes singular to an exclusive vision. Over time and repetition, the polarization intensifies; stereotypes manifest, competitor misfortune provides opportunities, distractions, angles, spins, slants, soothing sound bites, and partial truths are all introduced to solidify a fixed perspective for the desired consumer base. The outcome of this practice is a devout consumer with a vision so fixated on your product that they cannot entertain or comprehend another’s viewpoint. When a consumer is married to a brand, it is no longer necessary to sell because they will buy whatever you offer them.

While this level of consumer division is desirable for sales and politics — it is damaging to a community. The reality is that truth is not an exercise of subjectivity unless you are marketing or campaigning. Truth is singular, fixed, and grounded in the complete collection of facts. Changing an angle of perspective can create different shadows of that truth, but the truth itself is fixed and immovable.

In a community, individuals will approach reality from differing viewpoints, and that is healthy. We all have different core values, and that diversity is worth celebrating. Think about how boring life would be if we were all clones of one another! Remember that clones are suitable for endgame marketing, politics, and consumerism but make horrifically dull communities.

Despite our differences, it is critical to believe that we have far more in common than not, which is why we are all here. Understanding this commonality creates a foundation of respect and a sense of family. If we can respect each other for our varying perspectives, then we can have meaningful conversations. Productive discourse reinforces our civic ties and ultimately helps the collective find the most harmonious outcomes for any given situation.

Be wary of those that live in the extremes. Extreme viewpoints are generally uncompromising and will not contribute to healthy discourse or solution-driven conversation. The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus once stated, “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.” As an avid fly fisherman, I can testify that many a fish has come to my hand by provoking anger through annoyance. Keep it positive, and don’t take that bait!

I firmly believe that the future of the Heber Valley is in our hands, and we have the potential to create a truly remarkable community. We will look back at this era of growth and marvel that we were all a part of it. We can achieve this goal by showing compassion, respect, and participating in moderate discourse with our civic family. Strive to practice empathy over judgment. Be honest with yourself and with your fellow citizens. Discard agendas created for personal gain. Examine necessities from high elevation points. Ponder what it means to serve a ‘Greater Good.’ Strain to see another’s perspective — even if it may seem offensive at first glance. By enacting this way of life, we will identify the elusive truths and unify the community in all of its diverse grandeur.

Thank you for your support. Together, we are building a better community with our positive thought and action.