- Judas, Jesus Christ Superstar
Business, Politics, even Charity spends oodles of money every year selling brands. The goal is to ensure their message is read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television; the PR folk want the message to resound throughout the entire Internet.
But what is the message? Whatever the service, product or position, it almost invariably boils down to reminding or convincing people of why they need us.
I'm pretty sure the founders of religions (like Christ or Mohamed), philosophies (like Lao-tzu or Rumi) or movements (Gandhi) didn't hold a lot of fundraisers. As such, they weren't beholden to sponsors - just their visions. This helped keep barriers from forming between those visions and the people who would follow them.
An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in there somewhere.
- Cobb, Inception
A couple of things about ideas.
The best ones tend to start free. They inspire proactive action rather than incite reaction. They also don't require a lot of PR. The Golden Rule has popped up in every major religion, regardless of its origin not because of promotion, but because of its inherent power.
Oh - and they're bulletproof.
The same does not apply to manufactured coalitions of concepts slapped together with the hopes of appealing to manufactured constituencies. Built on fabricated foundations, these policy packages are employed by Parties and rely heavily on extrinsic promotion.
As is the case with genetics, while the packages spend time and energy selling themselves, ultimately it's the best ideas that carry on in the long-term. This is why Political Parties, whatever their name brand, shift along the political spectrum depending on when and where they find themselves. Their constituencies must adapt to modern contexts and therefore politics is ultimately the dog being wagged by the tail, whatever its practitioners convince themselves.
Inflexible brands are like flower pots; they either kill that which they attempt to contain through excessive restraint or break under the natural inclination to grow further. This is why we eventually transplant individual flowers to collective gardens. We don't leave gardens to grow wild - that just begs for cleansing brushfires that clean everything away, strong and weak. Instead we ensure the health of each plant by also maintaining the well-being of the whole.
"Strength through unity" is a box, implying unity under one roof - something impossible with an expanding constituency. Any variation on "us vs. them", to maintain a stable constituency of some kind, will inevitably exclude a majority to retain a minority. The flower outgrows the pot.
Strength through diversity, on the other hand, isn't about borders - it's about adaptation. The idea is to provide space and opportunity for each individual to reach their maximum potential in a collaborative setting, creating an evolving whole that is more than the sum of its constituent parts.
Society has always had community hubs; these could be a home, a church, a market, a legislature. Now we're finding these taking root online.
And there's the rub; the best ideas don't sell themselves to grow their constituencies; it's growing constituencies that need adaptive ideas to make them whole. Understanding is the place where diversity meets and innovation happens; when we all turn our individual strengthens in one direction, we can move mountains.