In this political season, you will see characterizations about what “most people” think, say or do. People who are liberal, people who are conservative, presuming that most of the world agrees with them.
“Most” could be seen as a democratizing word. But what is “most?” A majority? Half of a group, plus one? 51% still leaves a lot of people out. Meanwhile, our society is driven by cohorts much smaller than a majority.
One of the biggest problems with “most people” (the phrase, not the people) is that even if it is NOT inflating the power or viewpoint of the “most” group, it is often disregarding the “other” people not in the “most.”
There are people who are older than you or younger than you who have none of your shared cultural references. There are people of different gender with a totally different view. Race, ethnic background, religion or non-theism, education, physical ability…the list of our differences is long.
When you recognize America as a complex collection of diverse people, hopes, experiences, abilities and accomplishments, the folly of using the phrase “most people” can begin to sink in. The beauty of our representational democracy is that we can find a way for most people to live together with opportunity and responsibilities that we agree to as a part of our compact with each other as Americans.
Beyond a few certitudes, in journalism, in life, in art, we try to discern what matters. Most people breath. Most people eat.
As you listen to the rhetoric of anyone – in culture, art, government, religion – if they speak of certitude about what “most people” want, they are probably leaving some people, and often, many people, out.
How we manage to accommodate our differences is a challenge that civil society must learn over and over. In the United States, it has been a remarkable struggle, and a remarkable strength. Here’s hoping that the coming year shows “most people” understanding that we are in this together, even though we may not see things from the same place.
Musician, journalist, teacher, technologist, consultant & former NPR station manager. A media and entertainment professional, journalist, entrepreneur, technology advocate, educator, student, mentor, manager, and media, musical and theatrical performer.
Voice talent and coach for music and spoken word. I also act and sing (mostly jazz, but a lot of experience with choral, classical and musical theater, too). Brass instruments, too, but my AF ofM card lapsed years ago.
Heard on the national jazz service, PubJazz, and in the Pittsburgh market on WZUM/Pittsburgh Jazz Channel. I also teach college level courses in media and journalism.
I managed the leading NPR/public radio station in Pittsburgh, PA for 16 years, a few years later was GM of the NPR station WBHM in Birmingham, AL. I served for six very busy years on the NPR Board of Directors and have done much volunteer service for national and local organizations in the communities I have been privileged to live and work in.
Former NPR Board Member, former President of the Pittsburgh Radio Organization, sometime musician, relentless technology advocate.
Opinions expressed are not the viewpoints of any employer or affiliation past or present.