Feminist Movement

Feminism, at its core, is the advocacy for women’s rights on the basis that they are equal to men. As some have said, “Feminism is the belief that women are people too.” From the right to vote to the glass ceiling, feminists have fought hard to have the same rights and opportunities as men. But there are some questions as to how we look to the future that need to be rethought.

Somewhere along the way, we began operating out of a scarcity mindset — the idea that there’s only so much to go around, so we have to compete for it. So, women are smarter than men, harder workers than men, in general, better at life than men. Not only can we do everything men can do, we do it SO much better. In order to pull women up, we take the approach of pushing men down — they’re dumb, out of touch, have no feelings, and deserve to pay for all the misdeeds of earlier generations. In a day and age when women could only attend women’s colleges, and their voices in politics didn’t count — literally — I understand where this is coming from. But is the man-vs-woman, my-gender-is better-than-yours competition really helpful anymore?

I think we’ve outgrown it. Emma Watson, in her viral speech at the UN, agrees. “The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.” Neither men, nor women, are truly free while bound by the stereotypes of male aggressiveness, control, and lack of emotion, while women are stereotyped as the opposite.

Another failing concept prevalent in feminism is the idea that gender should never factor in at all, because we’re all exactly the same, in every possible way. It sounds good on the surface, right? We’re all people. We’re all equally intelligent and capable. But this is a defective utopian concept that hurts more than it heals.

NOT considering the uniqueness of being a woman is more damaging than over-considering it. Women are a diverse, complex gender worthy of recognition all on their own. To make women and men seem the same, whatever qualities differentiate them are placed on the chopping block. For women, the first thing to go is their fertility.

Feminism has called for the ultimate misogyny: women get pregnant, men do not, therefore, women need to be neutered by social and contraceptive control in order to advance. Basically, they must become like men. And it’s your duty to all women, everywhere, to advance yourself at any cost.

I believe the substantial role that women play in procreation should be cause for celebration, not shaming. Through motherhood, women are literally shaping what the future looks like. The role women can play is bigger than just the empowerment of themselves and of other women — it is what empowers and builds the future for all.

Instead, we’re supposed to believe that in order for women to be successful, we need to be “neutered,” either choosing/being pressured to not have children or relying on abortion if we do get pregnant, because we simply aren’t capable of embracing both motherhood and a career.

I think we have a third option for feminists. A camp of New Feminists who fight for women to be recognized for the beauty, importance, and power of their natural and unique roles in society. Women who embrace procreation, not as a chain for the present, but as a call to be an architect of the future. Women whose gifts are recognized as important and needed, and that recognition is reflected in equal pay and leadership roles in the workplace.

Women who also fight for men — for men to be valued for the diversity they bring and for the benefits of the perspectives of both men and women to be seen as vital for a holistic view of humanity.

Millennials Pornography

According to Pornhub’s latest statistics, people watched 4,392,486,580 hours of porn on PornHub’s site in 2015. Yes, that is over 4 billion hours . . . of porn . . . on one site.

While I am not naive to the prevalence of pornography, I still couldn’t help but feel shocked and I immediately thought, how does watching over 4 billion hours of porn (on a single site, mind you) impact our society?

Some research says it’s a good thing. There is a line of studies that make the “cathartic” argument, which basically claims consuming pornography reduces the desire to commit a sexual crime by providing a safe outlet for deviant desires. Milton Diamond, director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, takes it a step further and asserts there is “absolutely no evidence that pornography does anything negative.”

Well, Milton, that’s not true, but before I get to that I want to look at the “cathartic” argument a little more closely.

There are two points to the “porn decreases sexual violence” argument:
(1) as porn has become easier to obtain the percentages of sexual violence have decreased; and
(2) the support connecting porn to sexual violence is based on correlation, not causation. The issue is, of course, that those who hold this view are failing to connect the two arguments, since argument
(1) doesn’t hold any weight in light of argument
(2). There is no evidence of causality in regards to the increase of porn and the decrease of sexual violence.
There could be a million reasons as to why sexual violence has decreased, and no proof that easier access to porn has affected the decrease.

Now, does watching porn cause sexual violence? No, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a connection between the two, in fact, we know there is. For instance, 9 out of 10 rapists admit to using pornography on a regular basis. There is also evidence of a connection between sexual violence and violent pornography. One study asserts 28% of respondents who had been sexually abused reported their abuser used pornography during the act of violence, and 12% reported that they were forced to imitate pornography during their abuse. Another study shows that adolescents who view pornography are more likely to bully via physical and verbal sexual aggression, and participate in sexually violent acts. The study also found that pornography use was a good predictor of sexual violence. Moreover, about half of the most-purchased porn contains verbal aggression, and 88% contains physical aggression toward women.

So, it would seem like there’s a strong connection between porn and sexual violence, but what does this have to do with Millennials? A lot, actually. According to Pornhub, 60% of their audience is Millennial, and more women in our generation watch pornography than women in any other generation. This, in my mind, is a huge cultural setback.

We were supposed to be the generation that brought about gender equality.

All studies aside, we should be able to — on mere reason alone — understand how pornography affects the world, specifically women. Porn has always been a medium that improperly portrays and degrades women. As stated, there is proof of this, but we should be reasonable enough to understand it, and brave enough to say it.

Making matters worse, Millennial women are now participating at a record number in media that has demeaned them for years. This is problematic when Millennial-aged women are especially at risk of sexual abuse. 80% of of those who have been sexually abused are under the age of 30, and one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college.

Here is one last stat for you: 293,066. This is the approximate number of victims over the age of 12 that will be sexually abused in 2016 — about 1 person every 107 seconds.

It is clear that pornography is hurting society, yet our generation is supporting it in record numbers.

The World

This past Tuesday (March 1, 2016) Halcyon started a new campaign that focuses on social movement leaders that have pushed the world to connect our decisions to morality. These leaders inspired the world to be something better; to care about the dignity of others, and how we, as a community of people, must look to our faith as a guide for social change. The leaders we highlight are: Blessed Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rosa Parks, St. John Paul II, Cesar Chavez, and Sophie Scholl.

Each of these leaders faced incredible and hopeless odds, but they persevered — several giving their lives for the cause of freedom and a better, more moral society. It is up to all of us to take on the persistent spirit of these advocates for change and ensure that the cost they — and those who fought with them — paid means something. Now, I am not just saying that as lip-service; I literally mean we have a duty to ensure their accomplishments and lessons on life endure. In order to do this we, as a society, must believe, promote, and live out the following three principles.

1. Acknowledge that the truth exists

To go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind. That’s the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be and the real purpose and meaning of it. 
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Once the truth is denied to human beings, it is pure illusion to try to set them free. Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery.

St. John Paul II

Our society must understand that knowledge does not come from within. The internalization of knowledge leaves society unable to change course, as we have created a relativistic “truth.” If truth can be thought of as different dependent upon perspective — as it is now — we are effectively saying there is no such thing as truth at all. But this cannot possibly be accurate. The truth exists, even the simplicity of that assertion can act as a control to this hypothesis.

How does this apply to the social change that Halcyon is working towards?

Acknowledging that the truth exists — even if we do not agree on what that truth is — sets us all on a course of curiosity. This search for knowledge can begin the moral debates our society needs to move towards being good and just. Does God exist? Where do our morals come from? What is “good” and what is “just”? These questions cannot be asked from the personal perspective. Let me be clear on this point: the internalization of knowledge is the single greatest failure of humankind. It is this that has led to the social ills of abortion, the deviation from natural sexual policies, the pluralistic nature of our social decisions, and the abandonment of faith as our moral compass.

If we cannot acknowledge that truth exists, then we cannot build a better world.

2. Recognize the human dignity of all

A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.
– St. John Paul II

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Blessed Mother Teresa

When we as a society acknowledge that truth exists we can reestablish our moral compass. Our first course must be the recognition of the human dignity of each person at each stage of life. It is this element that is the primary guide of our faith. Christ, through his sacrifice for all on the cross, left us no other path other than one which starts with the recognition of the dignity of others.

The greatest atrocities mankind has ever conjured are attacks on human dignity. We cannot seem to learn from our mistakes: the racism that has plagued America, the Holocaust, the murder of innocent unborn children, and the depravity of euthanasia. We, as a society, insist that we experience atrocity instead of starting our decisions, policies, and actions by requiring a standard that they are built on the foundation of both truth and truth lived out: human dignity. This is the right course no matter the debate, be it abortion, gay marriage, or immigration. This doesn’t mean that we don’t use our faith as a moral compass to make decisions, create policies, and take action, but it does affect how we go about doing so.

Acting with human dignity in mind is the only path towards a good and just society.

3. Our Christian faith is actionable

Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.
–  Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The real damage is done by those millions who want to survive. . . . Those who don’t like to make waves — or enemies. . . . It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.
–  Sophie Scholl

Notice the three activities referenced above: make decisions, create policies, and take action. No longer can we pretend that our Christian faith is an internal concept that we occasionally acknowledge. Our Christian faith is actionable, and as such we must live it out every day — at home, at work . . . everywhere we are. It does our society no good to acknowledge the truth and recognize human dignity if we fail to act. We must build a better world, not wish one into existence.

Our faith must be lived, both inside the church and outside of it.

Since our faith is actionable, The Halcyon Movement is asking for you to complete a simple task each week that we will announce with that week’s post: go to our Facebook page each Tuesday to share the images of these revolutionary leaders who dared to live out their faith for the betterment of humankind, and do one simple thing to make a difference. For this week, we are simply asking that you go to church on Sunday. Some of you go every single week, some not in a while, perhaps some never.

Whatever the situation, make it a point to go to church and post on our Facebook page that you went, and perhaps a little bit about your experience if you feel led to share. Everyone at Halcyon will be sharing our experiences throughout the week.

Our generation is the least likely to attend church, so we thought this is a great place to start. Blessed Mother Teresa calls this “a drop in the ocean” action, but that drop shapes the entire movement. Moreover, it illustrates our dependence on God for truth, and not ourselves, as I point out in principle #1.

If we want to change the world, then we must pursue these three principle, and through doing so, build a movement . . . together.

The Church as an ecumenical body spread around the world…The Church we are talking about is a tremendously powerful institution in our society, and in the world. That Church is one form of the Presence of God on Earth, and so naturally it is powerful. It is powerful by definition. It is a powerful moral and spiritual force which cannot be ignored by any movement. 
– Cesar Chavez

As I listened to Alonzo on the phone I could hear a little grin in his voice. He loves to tell stories, but some of the stories aren’t easy to hear. Al, as he goes by now, grew up as a migrant worker, and being a migrant worker meant he lived in camps, where he said, “we only spoke Spanish; we moved around too much to settle in and learn a different language.” When he started going to school, around the mid-1950s, he couldn’t get much out of it not knowing English. The first grade, he said, was a bit of a blur — mostly because his family’s work followed the crop cycles. They would drive in the backs of old trucks that were covered with a canopy. As Al tells it, the carbon monoxide would get so thick under the canopy that when one person started to vomit it would cause a chain reaction. Al doesn’t seem to be too upset about the memories — like I said, there is a grin there. A fondness, not for the hardships, but for overcoming those hardships. He talked about his mother and father, and how they sacrificed to give him and his brothers and sister a better life.

When Al started to talk about the second grade his mood changed a bit. He paused. A moment of silence in an otherwise talkative conversation. You can tell that the story he was about to tell was one that changed his life, but the story wasn’t about him; it’s about a little girl.

In the second grade, the teachers demanded that Al spoke English — to speak in Spanish, the only language he knew, would result in punishment. And the punishments were severe. If you spoke Spanish you were spanked, and while that was bad enough, the word “spank” doesn’t seem to represent the act. Al spoke of one moment when a teacher asked him a question. He told me that getting called on in class caused anxiety, since he knew it would result in punishment. You could still hear a bit of the nervousness in his voice over sixty years later. Al walked up to the chalkboard to answer the question, but when he spoke in Spanish the teacher beat his hand with a ruler. She hit him so hard that a vein broke and blood poured out on to the floor.

When the teachers grew tired of hitting Al, they decided that he should pick up after the other students during recess. So, while all of the other English-speaking kids were playing, Al was walking the grounds with a tin trash can picking up the garbage. He told me how demoralized he felt, but Al never spoke with sense of self-pity, just a pure human reaction to rejection.

One day, while picking up the trash during recess, one of his classmates, a young girl named Victoria, approached Al. No words were exchanged; she just grabbed one of the handles of the trash can, and started to pick up trash. The teachers weren’t pleased with her. Al, according to the teachers, was a degenerate and his punishment deserved. As such, Victoria was punished along with Al.

But she didn’t stop. One day on the schoolyard, to Al and Victoria’s surprise, one of the other kids reached down and began picking up trash. Then another. Others joined. They were punished as well.
Al wanted to do something about the misplaced guilt he felt for the punishment his helpers endured, so he decided to learn English. Victoria took up the challenge, and so Al would point at something and Victoria would patiently give him the word in English. Slowly, but surely, Al would learn English, and ended up doing quite well in school — eventually finishing his education with a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management.

Al can tell this story about that little girl with pinpoint accuracy. He still thinks about Victoria every day. It isn’t too hard. I could hear her chiming in as I talked to Al on the phone. Al and Victoria got married just after high school, and just before Al left for Vietnam to serve his country — a country he speaks of dearly. Al’s faith, and his love for Victoria, have left no room for anger about his past, just a grin. A grin that represents the courage to forgive, and to build something better. And building something better is a mantra that Al and Victoria have passed on to their kids.

That one decision the brave little girl made isn’t just a moment that I can look at for inspiration; it is the moment that my life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters became possible. One little girl’s brave decision made a big difference, and on that brave decision we’ve built a family. Now, from that family, we are building a movement. I started The Halcyon Movement with small group of people, which includes my brother, Nathan. Al and Victoria, our mom and dad, raised us to build a better world, and to understand that each decision we make can either build up or tear down. My mom would always tell us, “life and death is in the power of the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21), and she meant it. What we say and do makes a difference, and we never know when a choice will be put in front of us that requires a moment of bravery to make the right decision.

It would seem as though we exist in a time where we have no shortage of leaders, but are in a constant search for leadership. Our political leaders whine, attack each other, and seem determined to create as polarized a society as possible. Our cultural leaders are more interested in celebrity and personal brand than the culture they are shaping. Our moral leaders have become so ambiguous that the social concepts of morality are made up almost completely by opposing values. And the idea of moral leadership, well, that feels like an out-of-reach dream; a unicorn that people desire but none of us have seen. More often than not the discussion on leadership turns into a discussion on choosing the lesser of two evils.

The problem, however, is not a matter of choosing the “right” leader; the problem is that we aren’t looking for leadership in the right places.

The concept of leadership being a single person that directs your path is foolish. Leadership is influence; its about standing for something. Growing up I would hear that “leaders are born, not made,” or “that person has real leadership potential.”

Well, that is all a lie. You and I have that same potential, because leaders aren’t born, nor are they made. Leadership is about choices. So, when you are trying to solve the problem of leadership, look in the mirror next time. As John Gardner asserts, “for every effectively functioning leader in our society, I would guess that there are five or ten others with the same potential for leadership who have never led or perhaps even considered leading.”

This is what sets The Halcyon Movement apart from other organizations. We offer a vision and a strategy to change the world, and we want to empower and inspire you to lead. This is how a social movement works. If Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t have leaders stand up and start walking, then his marches would have just been one man walking down the street. Instead people rose up and changed things, because they were fed up with the culture of the time. And we know that you are fed up with the culture right now, and now is the time to do something.

Or, you can choose to do nothing at all. Ignore this post. Give up your voice. Watch the world evolve around you — helplessly following “leaders” to whatever end. But we think you’re better than that. We believe that you are a leader that can truly change the world, because We — every one of us — are the leaders that we’ve been looking for.


I understand, first hand, the difficulty of dealing with the differences between Christian faiths. My wife grew up with a reformed background, and I grew up Catholic. Neither of us was very comfortable with bending on what we believed. No matter how many theological debates or arguments took place, our positions would not shift. There were times when I honestly thought we could not come together on this issue — an issue that was to shape our adult lives and the lives of our children. As my wife tells the story, God eventually intervened, and we found a way forward. While we are now unified in our Catholic faith, we still appreciate both of our faith backgrounds. We often attend a local non-denominational church where I learn a great deal that helps develop my faith, especially how to practically live out my faith in relationships. Do I always agree with the theology? Nope. This past Sunday I took some real issues with how certain theological elements were presented, but I’ll be back next Sunday. The non-denominational church and I may not agree on every issue, but they are good people who love God, and who are seeking him daily — of this, I am sure.

And this, in my mind, is a big part of our Halcyon model. At The Halcyon Movement we believe that as an ecumenical organization we benefit from diversity. We come from a myriad of faith backgrounds: Catholic, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Anglican, and Reformed. We state in our internal What We Believe document that “We are built on many different denominations of Christianity. Each of these denominations brings a different perspective on how our Christian faith should be lived out. As such, we are an ecumenical organization, and this, to us, means diversity. We believe our diversity is a strength, not a difference we pretend doesn’t exist.”

Halcyon knows that, if we are to change the world we must do so with all Christians working together. In fact, Jesus called all of us to stand together.

“My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity.” John 17:20–23.

As I stated, standing together as one Christian church is very difficult. We have some tremendous differences, but I don’t want to discuss what is separating us; rather, what must bring us together: the foundational values of family and the good of our Christian faith freely lived out. These elements are facing very real opposition in our current cultural condition, and it is time that the Christian church, and the Christian people within, demand unity and action to reshape our social future.

Cesar Chavez calls the ecumenical Christian church “a powerful moral and spiritual force which cannot be ignored by any movement.” As such, The Halcyon Movement wants to see Christians acting on causes that unite us. As a call to action this week, Halcyon is asking you to reach out to one person — a friend, or perhaps even a family member — of a different Christian denomination and start a conversation on how you both can work together to build a better world.


To appeal to Millennials, there are some things that conservatives need to change. Conservative messaging tends to fall flat when it comes to engaging a younger audience. You can argue against me, I suppose, but the stats are there — and they are very clear. It used to be true that generations would tend to get more conservative as they got older, but Millennials seem to be bucking that trend. They are moving away from conservative ideals and religion as they get older.

In light of this trend towards the Left, I thought I would offer 6 things that conservatives need to change in order to engage Millennials.

1. Stop being angry and start offering hope

Conservative media is basically synonymous with angry WASP. All fire and brimstone when talking about the “opposition,” and the future of America. This is great if you only want to have a conversation with the red meat that already agrees with you, but that is not how you build the future. No one buys into a future based on how bad you make the people who disagree with you look. People buy into a future because it offers them hope. This concept really hit me in a recent conversation with a Millennial girl who stated, “I am just having a tough time reconciling the Gospel I have come to know and love to the way conservatives talk and act.” Frankly, so am I.

No one buys into a future based on how bad you make the people who disagree with you look. People buy into a future because it offers them hope.

2. Stop curating news and start having a personality

Conservatives are ruining Facebook and Twitter for me. All they ever do is curate conservative content. Every day. All the time. This flies in the face of the reason social media exists. Social media is intended as a place for people to make a connection, and connections require authenticity.

Conservatives on Facebook and Twitter all sound the same. Each post is a pithy, self-serving little “nugget of truth” comment that jabs at the opposition with such clarity that it will usher in a new age of conservatism, and a news link from a clearly biased source as support. It is as though all conservatives went to bed and woke up as Rush Limbaugh clones.

The problem is that it is all so one dimensional. People are really complex creatures with a diverse set of views, struggles, and triumphs. People want to hear about all of it. They want authenticity. They want to hear from YOU! All of you. Every bit. Don’t hide yourself behind a news aggregate facade or the concept of building your personal “brand.” Brands are fine, but human beings are better. So, please stop pretending to be a news commentator, and start acting like a person — flaws and all.

Brands are fine, but human beings are better.

3. Stop telling and start talking

The Internet was built to facilitate connection — that was always its purpose. It does not exist as a personal platform. Those who understand that do better. It is all too common, however, to find conservatives telling people what to do next with very little back and forth.

The back and forth conversation is necessary. The Cluetrain Manifesto described it best, “When you think of the Internet, don’t think of Mack trucks full of widgets destined for distributorship, whizzing by countless billboards. Think of a table for two.” If you are constantly telling people, then you are not listening. And when you fail to listen you are signaling right away that you have no intention of learning, so why should anyone else want to listen and learn from you?

If you are constantly telling people, then you are not listening.

4. Stop directing and start inspiring

This ties into a couple of points above, but takes the concept a bit further. Instead of telling, instead of directing, conservatives need to start inspiring. Modern day conservatism — at least from my subjective point-of-view — is, well, really boring. I really like most of the principles, but the messaging, leaders, etc. do not resonate with me. Even the principles seem to be hiding under conservative aggression (see Point #1).

There is so much good in the conservative philosophy, and that goodness needs to inspire people. People will only take in so much direction without inspiration, and I think conservatism has run its course on direction. If it doesn’t start inspiring soon, it is going to sound more and more redundant, tired, and overly aggressive.
Inspire people with good.

5. Care about people more than politics

This one is sort of weird, since politics and people shouldn’t be one or the other. The concept of politics — properly understood — only exists to care about people. The rules, the guidance, the policies, all of it is created to ensure that, generally, people are cared for. This doesn’t mean that conservatives should start jumping into “entitlement” policies, but it might mean changing how the conservative message is perceived.

I’ll offer one example: immigration. I have heard immigration solutions from a lot of conservatives — some local and others national. I don’t disagree with most of what is said. Build a wall? Good. Figure out some way to deal with those who are here illegally? Incredibly complex, but I get it. Create a clarified system for future immigrants to come into the country? Sure. There is nothing wrong with these solutions on their face, but the way conservatives talk about these solutions comes across as angry and without an understanding that we are talking about actual people.

On all issues, frankly, it is easy to talk about policy instead of people, but America has always been great because it understands the importance of “We, the people.” This is what makes conservative beliefs so valuable, because they are rooted in caring for people. And not just for short term gain, but policies that enable real growth for all. Conservatives need to start communicating how their beliefs build, not just a better concept of America, but a better life for the American people without which America doesn’t exist.

The concept of politics — properly understood — only exists to care about people.

6. Stop looking back and start looking forward

Conservatism is built on affirming, defending, and preserving. It is an historical philosophy. As Kengor (2105) states “the task of the conservative is to fight that rebellion, to affirm and defend and preserve and conserve the natural-traditional-biblical family.” Affirm . . . defend . . . preserve. I get it. Conservative = conserve. The problem is that conservation needn’t be stale. The principles and values can remain, but we can look to new approaches, new messages, and new ways to apply these time-tested principles and values.

Conservatism needs to stop thinking that the way it has always been done is the best way, and start looking forward to a new future. Reagan isn’t running for president in 2016. Let the past go. The past informs the future, but the future can never be the past. The future of conservatism, if it wants a future, is change.

Reagan isn’t running for president in 2016. Let the past go.

Although there’s room for improvement, conservatives get a lot of things right. First, conservatives generally oppose the murdering of innocent children. I mean, if we can’t at least benchmark our social and political philosophies there then . . . well, I suppose for some people that is not so clear. It should be. Period. Conservatives really do support the marketplace of ideas concept through a free market, and they tend to support the historical concept of the natural family, which is quintessential to building a good and just society. Finally, conservatives generally understand the importance religious freedom plays in the overall concept of personal freedom. When religious freedom is removed all other freedom goes with it, and conservatives seem to get that.

The breakdown in engaging Millennials happens in communicating of those ideas. Using old talking points, old marketing, and old strategies isn’t going to work with Millennials. Millennials want a future built on hope, authenticity, conversation, charity, and innovation. These are all concepts rooted in the conservative ideology, but Millennials wouldn’t know it.

Conservative principles are foundational, but conservative communication has to evolve.

The Internet

Last week Microsoft launched a Twitter Chatbot called TayTweets, that was meant to be a “teen girl” that learns how to engage online via other Twitter users. In less than a day TayTweets became a racist, hateful, Nazi-sympathizer. Microsoft is getting a lot of bad press for their lack of poorly executed code. Microsoft apologized, of course, and TayTweets was taken down. While a lot have commented on how Microsoft failed, I think there is a bigger problem TayTweets illuminated: our culture.

TayTweets gives our online communication a look in the mirror, and it is a little bit scary to see a true reflection of who we are.

TayTweets was built to communicate by learning who we are, and it is our society, not Microsoft, who should be ashamed. Microsoft’s stated that “AI (Artificial Intelligence) systems feed off of both positive and negative interactions with people. In that sense, the challenges are just as much social as they are technical.” They are exactly right. This problem is not just a technical failure by Microsoft. Microsoft did not make the TayTweets AI to be racist or sexist; we did that.

This isn’t a new issue. At SXSW this year, the issue of online bullying was a controversial element of the convention. Twitter, especially, has become an environment where abuse is the norm. There seems to be this idea that somehow who we are online is not who we are in real life, but this is a grave misunderstanding of morality. Morality is not something that is present only when acting in the open; rather a person’s morality is defined by how they think and act in all circumstance — public, alone, or hiding behind an avatar.

Genius, a startup tech company whose product allows users to annotate the Internet — with or without permission, has the right outlook. The onus for a moral and dignified conversation is on the users, not the company that builds the products. Genius states that they built the Genius Web Annotator to allow any user to contribute to the conversation on any web page, and like any platform “it has the potential to be misused,” but, and this is a key point, the Genius platform “does not enable abuse.” No major platform, not Twitter, Genius, nor TayTweets enables abuse; we do that.

As Genius points out, the concept of abuse ownership on platform creators is “a false narrative.” To continue to blame platform creators for online abuse is nothing less than blame-shifting, and will result in more restrictions, more government intervention, and whole lot less innovation — none of these things are good for society.

This is a moment where, no matter your worldview, we must all come together and act decently. We cannot force users to do so, but we can control our individual behavior. And this is an important point: social morality is developed by the choices that all of us make as individuals while thinking about the community. We cannot hide our hate behind false profiles; our discourse must exercise moral decision-making rooted in human dignity.

We need to finally accept that what we say, whether in person or online, represents our humanity … and we can be a lot better.

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