Step 3. Civic Autobiography Matrix

“Do not Judge a Man Until You Have Walked a Mile in his Moccasins.”
 – Native American proverb




To understand your civic self you must understand the origins of your thoughts. Are your principles rooted in feelings or experiences that go back to your early childhood? Or to adolescence? Have they evolved? When? Why?

Are they rooted in examples set by your mother or father or older siblings? Or by teachers or other mentors? Or by reading? Or life experiences? By community service? Or by a film? Or by religion? Or are they based on an acute sense of your own or your family’s economic interest? (Whether a higher minimum wage or lower taxes, for example).

A second dimension of your political past is party or group affiliation or civic action.

A third dimension is remembering past voting decisions. What did you decide in the past? Why? Giving honest answers to these questions may be harder than you think.

Human capacity for self-deception is infinite. The tendency is to think that we are motivated by high principles and others motivated by interests or unfortunate influences. We tend to forget past decisions that may look like poor ones in retrospect. We may sugar coat the rationale behind them.

Honest analytical introspection is not easy. But it is indispensable.

As you will see ultimately, these matrices will be exchanged in Thinking Citizen Conversations (aka Matrix Exchanges).

Premise: The greater each of us understands where the other is coming from, the greater the odds of empathy, trust. The greater the empathy and trust, the greater the odds of learning from each other.