Wade, there is nothing in your long struggle to form “compasssionate communities” to object to– certainly a noble objective. My reticence is not with the objective, because, foundationally, that is the way thigs are supposed to be (“mom’s apple pie”). Admittedly, it is my failure, but I do not foresee how compassionate relations lead to political transformation on a mass scale. Being a “nice neighbor” does not automatically eradicate racism, sexism, xenophobia, imperialism, nor propagate progressive politics .
Thanks much, James E Vann, for your thoughtful, supportive response and for your long history of nonviolent struggle. You address a key problem: how to translate compassion into effective action. There is no easy solution and nothing is automatic. But it seems to me that it would help if existing organizations operated in a more compassionate manner. Regardless, to borrow your formulation, I do not foresee how uncompassionate relations lead to political transformation on a mass scale. Comments are welcome on the latest draft of the Transform the System statement of principles, which proposes some concrete steps. It’s at https://goo.gl/YXS8u9…. If my quest is, as James E Vann said, as obvious as “mom’s apple pie,” why does no such organization exist (so far as I know)?
This statement is fine. Il’l be interested in hearing about your meeting.
Your 2-page document reads well. A couple of suggestions:
Make the document fit in 2-pages.
Consider dropping the paragraph on the national convention (not needed at this time).
Can you provide links to LinkedIn profiles for your Colleagues/Team? (I have one.)
Thanks Wade. I like the statement, but am not sure it will draw/folt many people into action. Many people will agree with it if they read it, but the question is what they can do after they read it or feel inspired enough to help bring bring this new society into existence. Too many people have given up hope that we can bring about social transformation.
Good to hear. Thanks.
If and when you have suggestions about what folks can do after they read it, I’d welcome them.
The latest draft may address that issue a bit more….
I agree that people giving up hope is a problem.
I’ll send another report with the latest draft soon.
Can you send it to Joanna Macy and solicit her feedback?
there is a greater need for a community to find love – shelter – hope and solidarity. Especially for those who do not work within the structure of a church…. It is more than ever that a community you suggest is a must in our Nation. I(we) have seen our starving residents respond to a false god in their need to feel safe, secure and deservingly cared for by our government and other institutions. Clearly, the system is not working for the majority and the beast in us is roaring for our country of people to stand tall against the harming ways of our system of care.
Going towards, building up is a healthier way to forge in transformation and in the process we must be kind and gentle to ourselves and others. As you know this transformation has been building for years and years. It is time for leadership(in all forms ) to capture this time and lead towards peaceful resolution for the common good.
The below statement outlines issues and offers solutions. The dedicated few leaders – one step st a time – can bring this together.
Responding to your request for feedback, I think you’ve done a great job in creating the short-version “manifesto” for the movement you’ve envisioned. I’m always as interested in the clarity of the writing in such documents as I am in the content being conveyed, and I honestly believe you’ve now got that just right.
For what it’s worth, however, I don’t share that same faith in the rightness of the project you’re proposing. In my own view, no reform effort that starts entirely from scratch with a relative handful of people can achieve through its own efforts the monumental goals you set: namely, the worldwide transformation of human behavior from predominant egotism, selfishness and individualism to predominant empathy, caring, and community. If such a transformation is ever to be achieved, my own notion is that it will be by means of very gradual organic improvements in national cultures. In the U.S. such progress has already occurred to a modest degree with respect to the social status of blacks, gays, and women. The place of each of these groups has been strengthened by a mix of government anti-exclusion legislation and positive changes in society’s attitude toward them based on their emergence from the shadows and the subsequent recognition that they share with all Americans important social values and a common humanity.
In contrast to the document you’ve called on us to review, I thought the main purpose of the social action you were proposing was not to reform mankind from its affinity for dehumanizing “systems,” but to advance federal legislation in the U.S. that could help meet real human needs and in so doing help shift the focus of Americans from selfish–and, for the great majority, unrealizable–aspirations to ascendance in the “system” to a human concern for the common good. The outline of the strategy to do this was clear: In each congressional district in the U.S., folks of both conservative and progressive political outlook would get together and agree on meaningful policies they believe the federal government should pursue; they would then invite their congressional representative to meet with them on a monthly basis to urge him or her to push one particular policy in Congress. Because the policy proposed by the people would represent a left/right consensus, and because the congressperson’s re-election would likely depend on how honestly and fruitfully he/she strove to promote the people’s will, this seemed to me a wonderful plan: it could help shift the attention of politicians away from the system of cahoots with wealthy corporate donors and lobbyists, and to the people they nominally represent. A very similar plan has in fact been laid out by Ralph Nader in his latest two books, Breaking through Power and Unstoppable.
I do not envision starting from scratch. Rather, I hope to encourage existing organizations to change how they operate.
I agree that social transformation will be organic and gradual — at least until a critical mass is reached.
I agree that progress with the status of blacks, gays, and women is a good example of such evolution.
Advancing federal legislation is still an element of the statement.
I’ve read Nader’s book and generally like it, but like most progressives, he only talks about the government and the economy. I think we need a different strategy to be more effective. Changing hearts and minds is essential.
Very interesting project! I’ll be watching your progress intently.
One thing often stands out to me in your blog posts: your emphasis on America, and fixing whatever ails her. Yet so much of what you write about applies equally to other places in the modern world, all equally enmeshed in the transnational system that American ingenuity and drive has contributed greatly to bring about. For example, you wrote:
“What is ‘the system‘ and how can the American people change national policies to transform it?”
As an Aussie, I could equally write:
“What is ‘the system‘ and how can the Australian people change national policies to transform it?”
And the same applies to, say, Britons or Swedes; or anywhere in the Western world and increasingly, in the developing world, e.g. the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Of course, I realise that change has to “take place” – in accordance with realities – in specific places. By “places”, I mean nations, communities, economies, healthcare systems, social support networks, political institutions – the myriad ways we organise human life – rather than in geographical sites. And so you’re absolutely right to be agitating for and organising change within those systems you belong to as an American.
And yet, we’re all a part of the evolving transnational world system, aren’t we? Yet how much influence does any of us have over its processes and transformation? Increasingly, the World System (caps on purpose – there is really only one!) is becoming our de facto government throughout the modern world. Many years ago – maybe 50 in fact – it put a smile on my face to read that somebody had started issuing passports to “Citizens of the World” (or some similar phrase), beginning with themselves. I believe the young fellow had some trouble boarding a plane for an international flight … Still, I was hopeful that some time during my life, we might achieve an effective and freely elected global government.
And the “United Nations” was first organised about 70 years ago, but its unity still in no way matches that of the “United States of America“; nor does it adequately represent us; nor do we, the individual people of its member nations, have a vote on it nor any real say in its deliberations and policies. Whether any of this will happen during our lifetimes, we have reason to doubt; but surely this was the ultimate vision? A government of, by and for the people – of the world!
Well put. Thanks.
The latest draft is not tied to the USA
Posted later, from Larry Walker: