Or perhaps I should say "reintroduced" me. I knew Lessig as an expert in intellectual property law. But once again, the world had moved on when I was busy somewhere else.
Lessig had retired his IP blog and had redirected his prodigious intellect toward reforming our very system of government.
See, for example, a recent talk he gave to promote his new book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan To Stop It. Lessig is determined to upend a political system that perpetuates itself by polarizing people and driving wedges between them.
He described his goal quite succinctly in the Huffington Post:
"We Americans are diverse. We have different views. Some of us want more government. Some of us want less. Some think the state has done enough to achieve equality. Some think it's not begun to do its job. Some want flat taxes. Or no taxes. Some want progressive taxes. Or at least more taxes. We are different in a million ways, we Americans, but we are all equally Americans. And if you're leading a movement that won't acknowledge that difference (or more frighteningly, that believes that mere rhetoric is going to erase that difference), then you're not looking for fundamental reform. You're looking for a putsch."
Finding common ground would be a much more productive alternative, he says. That doesn't mean abandoning your principles. It does mean refusing to operate from bias and stereotypes about others. It means really trying to understand people's real-world situation and motivations.
"We can't afford to simply indulge the passion of our differences," he says. Particularly because the money interests that have captured Congress want to keep us fixated on our differences, whether political, religious, racial, social, cultural, or ethnic.
It's time we refuse to operate within that business model.
Dare I say it's time to be Otherwise?