An Open Letter to Cory Booker

After posting Religion, Spirituality, and the 2020 Election, which includes praise for Senator Cory Booker, I watched “The Family,” a five-part Netflix documentary about The Family — the authoritarian, evangelical organization that owns luxurious residences in D.C. where elected officials are invited to live communally at bargain rents and convenes the National Prayer Breakfast, which has been addressed by every U.S. President since Dwight Eisenhower. After viewing that film, I discovered that Booker participates in a Bible study group led by Senator James Inhofe, a leader in The Family.

Given these discoveries, later today at a gathering for his Presidential campaign, I hope to ask Booker: How do you evaluate Senator’s Inhofe’s theology?…

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Are bosses dictators?, Ezra Klein Show

In “Multiple Identities, Politics, Freedom, and Equality,” I wrote:

For me, the most important article of 2019 may prove to be “The Philosopher Redefining Equality” by Nathan Heller in the January 7 issue of The New Yorker. The article’s subhead is “Elizabeth Anderson thinks we’ve misunderstood the basis of a free and fair society.”

After listening to “Are bosses dictators? (With Elizabeth Anderson) on the Ezra Klein Show, my estimation of her work is even higher. Private Government is on my shelf, to be read next!

Recent additions to Systemopedia.org

I recently added the following to systemopedia.org:

Citizen Assemblies

citizens’ assembly is a body formed from the citizens of a state to deliberate on an issue or issues of national importance. The membership of a citizens’ assembly is randomly selected, as in other forms of sortition.

The purpose is to employ a cross-section of the public to study the options available to the state on certain questions and to propose answers to these questions through rational and reasoned discussion and the use of various methods of inquiry such as directly questioning experts. In many cases, the state will require these proposals to be accepted by the general public through a referendum before becoming law.

The citizens’ assembly aims to reinstall trust in the political process by taking direct ownership of decision-making.[1] To that end, citizens’ assemblies intend to remedy the “divergence of interests” that arises between elected representatives and the electorate, as well as “a lack in deliberation in legislatures.”[2]

The use of citizens’ assemblies to reach decisions in this way is related to the traditions of deliberative democracy and popular sovereignty in political theory. While these traditions stretch back to origins in ancient Athenian democracy, they have become newly relevant both to theorists and politicians as part of a deliberative turn in democratic theory. From the 1980s to the early 1990s, this deliberative turn began, shifting from the predominant theoretical framework of participatory democracy toward deliberative democracy, initially in the work of Jane Mansbridge and Joseph M. Bessette.[3] Since, citizens’ assemblies have been used in countries such as Canada and the Netherlands to deliberate on reform of the system used to elect politicians in those countries.

Ordinarily, citizens’ assemblies are state initiatives. However, there are also examples of independent citizens’ assemblies, such as the ongoing Le G1000 in Belgium or the 2011 We the Citizens initiative in Ireland.

Old Brain, New Brain, Cross-Partisan Dialog

By Penn Garvin, Lois Passi, Wade Lee Hudson

Penn Garvin, an activist and organizer living in rural PA recently wrote the following:

How to Listen:

(1) Put aside your own beliefs and enter into new territory as an anthropologist

(2) Watch your reactions to what you hear – when do you get angry, defensive, scared, etc. – try to understand how you are being triggered

(3) Try to listen for what is the anger, fear, etc. underneath what the other person is saying – don’t just listen to the ideas, policies, “what we should do” that they are saying

(4) Validate with the other person anything that you can – don’t be fake because people sense that – but are there things being said that make sense to you even if you don’t agree and maybe there are things being said that you agree with in part

(5) Don’t try to work anything out or agree on anything at first – just be able to feed back to the person accurately what they have said to you so that you both know that they have been understood.

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Lois Passi, a Unitarian Universalist living in PA who works with her local United Way to end poverty, recently included in one of her sermons the following:

•Old and New Brain:

The old brain’s job is to detect threats to survival, and to respond to those threats either by fighting the enemy, fleeing from the enemy, or if neither of those is possible, hunkering down and enduring (fight, flight or freeze responses)….

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New Systemopedia Content

I’ve recently added to Systemopedia the following:

As it’s added, new content is listed on the New page.

Mutual Support for Self-Improvement

By Wade Lee Hudson

Love, altruism, spirituality, partnership, community, and cooperation thrive when humans feel safe. These feelings also emerge in response to disasters when we tap reservoirs of compassion and restore faith in humanity.

But when we’re afraid, we become angry, selfish, materialistic, domineering, individualistic, and competitive. Economic insecurity inflames those emotions.  Social conditioning, mainstream media, TV, movies, political rhetoric, and highly competitive schools reinforce these negative tendencies.

Supportive, joy-filled communities that provide safety help us rise above our negative emotions. Families, extended families, close friendships, neighborhoods, churches, synagogues, mosques, sanghas, community-based organizations, and workplaces nurture growth. We can use fear and anger to stop injustice, spread positive emotions, and help each other become better human beings.

Intentional commitments strengthen self-improvement efforts. Wedding vows and mission statements illustrate the value of placing commitments in writing. These affirmations remind people of their commitment, help them hold each other accountable, and spread their values to others. By adopting clear, written policies, organizations can encourage their members to support each other with their self-improvement.

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