Good morning, fellow Citizen.

Welcome to the tenth (!!!) issue of No Easy Answers, a curated newsletter for those trying to navigate our political landscape with grace, humility, and courage.

Let's talk about courage for a moment, as it's one of the recurring themes on Citizen Within so far. Citizens understand the personal and civic values required to build a better world, and they fight for those values, even when it feels perilous and uncertain. For me, that's what courage means in a political context.

But to be honest, I'm still not very good at that when it comes to political conflict. Speaking up on any controversial issue right now feels like inviting chaos into your life.

But I do believe that courage is a muscle. It's not some innate trait that you either have or don't. Instead, it's something you can develop, that you strengthen iteratively through exposure therapy.

I'm also reasonably sure you can develop courage in one area of your life—your relationships, your work, etc—and it will transfer over, at least in part, to other areas. In other words, becoming more courageous in your home life may just make you more courageous in civic life. That's the hope, anyway.

In that vein, I took a step this week that actually did feel genuinely courageous. I transitioned my entire business away from the Market Economy, and towards a Gift Economy model.

There's a lot to it, but essentially I'm offering all of my products and services on a "choose your own price" basis. My work, which used to live behind a hard paywall, is now a gift to the communities I serve (creators and citizens). And there are all sorts of ways for people to reciprocate with their own gift back to me, if they so choose.

It's scary as hell. It's uncertain. And honestly, I'm freaking out a little bit.

But deep down, I believe this experiment is deeply aligned with my values, and is worth trying. The Gift Economy model prioritizes relationships, trust, and generosity above all else. I don't know about you, but I want to live in a world where all of those things are abundant, so I'm putting my money where my values are, and seeing if this'll work.

Maybe I'm naive, and maybe this'll fail miserably. But I don't want to end up on my deathbed knowing that I could have played a small part in healing the world, but chose not to out of fear.

So yeah, that's a thing that's happening. Both Ungated and Citizen Within are now part of the Gift Economy. And it feels like a real, courageous step into a new, uncertain world.

The question I'd like to leave you with is this: what's one area of your life where you can be a little bit more courageous today than you were yesterday?

In the meantime, here's my lone curated story for you this week.


Identity and ideas
We rarely do or say something intentionally that surprises us. That’s because we are in intimate contact with the noise in our heads–we spend our days looking in the mirror, listening t…

I loved this little piece from Seth Godin.

When your identity becomes intertwined with an idea—or worse, an entire ideology—it becomes damn near impossible for you to seek truth in the world. Because the moment the idea is criticized, even in good faith, it feels like an attack against the essence of your self. It feels like an existential threat that must be defended against at all costs.

And that's perhaps one of the underlying crises of our time. We have this vast digital media ecosystem, where ideas, both good and bad, spread at the snap of the finger. And we have people, starving for purpose and belonging, putting these ideas at the center of identity. Throw in the dynamics of the Culture War, and it's clear we have a real problem on our hands.

But as Seth points out in this piece, we have agency over this. We get to choose whether our identities are built around ideas that we must protect, or whether we're defined by a desire to solve problems, seek truth, and build bridges.

On a related note, it's interesting how many times I've clipped something from Seth Godin to share in this newsletter. Though he's ostensibly a marketing guy, the way he talks about marketing makes it clear that it's applicable not just to growing a business, but spreading ideas and changing culture.

As a marketer myself, this is something I'm starting to think more about. How can we use the tools of marketing and persuasion to win hearts and minds, and spread civic values that will result in a better world? I'm not sure yet, but I suspect that marketing will be a crucial part of the Citizen's toolbox.


That's a wrap on this 10th edition of No Easy Answers. I'm feeling good about this creative streak I've got going, and am excited to keep it going for many months and years to come.

If you find this work valuable, and would like to make sure I don't become homeless because of this Gift Economy experiment (I'm only half kidding), please consider becoming a paid member of Citizen Within, or supporting me through my new Buy Me A Coffee page.

Much love,

-Rob