Feedback Please, New Booklet (11/3 Draft)

Your feedback on Transform the World with Holistic Communities: Personal, Social, Cultural, and Political (11/3 Draft) would be greatly appreciated. That 50-page booklet is online at

To offer input, please use the survey at by Thursday, November 16. (Comments here or via email are also welcome).

So far 25 individuals have said they will give feedback on Transform the World with Holistic Communities: Personal, Social, Cultural, and Political (11/3 Draft). Those individuals include long-term activists, academics, former academics, journalists, and others with highly relevant experience. The feedback that emerges should be extremely valuable.

Numerous holistic projects have practiced or nurtured holistic transformation for some time. Recently, promising new projects have emerged. Holistic transformation may be an idea whose time has come. This booklet aims to bolster that momentum.

Holistic community has been a concern of mine for fifty years. Now that I’m retired, I hope to devote more time to this commitment. With this booklet, I sum up lessons from my activism, organizing, and research. The intent is to:

  • Promote holistic communities that aim to empower the whole person and transform the whole society.
  • Serve the common good of the Earth community, so everyone can be more fully human.
  • Encourage personal, social, cultural, and political transformation.

Prior to circulating this draft widely, no one had seen it. So it’s very much what I think. Your corrections, disagreements, and suggested changes and additions will be appreciated. If you disagree, please tell me.

Ideally, this project will become a collaboration with co-equal authors. Otherwise, I’ll proceed with help from people like yourself.

The contents include: Preface; A Purple Alliance; Issues; Three Proposals for Action; Holistic Communities; Related Projects; Training Projects; Conclusion.

The “Issues” chapter includes these sections: Top-Down Power; The System; Spirit; Holistic Politics; Individualism; The Blame Game; Nonviolence; Leadership; Tribalism; A Caring Economy; Self-Improvement; Mutual Support; Beyond Ideology; Evolutionary Revolution.

Unless you ask me not to, I’ll post your comments on the Web so others can review them.

I greatly appreciate your attention, and hope we can work together to make the booklet as good as it can be.

Please let me know if there’s some way I can contribute to your efforts to nurture holistic community.


Dialog with Van Jones

During last night’s book tour event, Van recounted the story of his year-long struggle with severe depression, when he felt like an Easter egg that was beautiful on the outside and empty on the inside. But eventually after much inner work he concluded “I’m a good guy” and moved on.

Later, he said, “I want us to start healing each other.”

During the Q&A, when the usher gave me the mic, I commented, “I love the book. It definitely points us in the right direction. My main problem is with your echoing your father’s affirmation of upward mobility as an antipoverty program. It seems to me that no child should have to grow up poor because their parents can’t find a living-wage job. A plurality of Americans support a federal jobs guarantee.”

I then asked, “What do you think about guaranteeing living-wage job opportunities with federal revenue sharing to local governments, partly as a way to weaken the power of the drive for upward mobility which has such a corrosive effect on our society?”

He replied, “I’m for it.”

The Truth is Even Messier

Van Jones’ beautiful new book, Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together, is an important masterpiece. Interspersing compelling narratives about his personal life, it calls on liberals and conservatives to more fully respect and understand one another. If they do, he convincingly argues, they can find common ground and make positive improvements on numerous issues, including criminal justice reform, the addiction crisis, training disadvantaged youth for tech jobs, and promoting green jobs in poor rural and urban communities.

He makes a persuasive case that traditional conservative values hold merit, as do liberal values. But elite partisans on both sides have distorted those values with narrow dogmatism. By setting those dogmas aside, a “bottom-up bipartisanship” can counter that neoliberal “top-down bipartisanship” that has caused so much damage in recent decades.

The result has been great frustration and resentment among the white working class, which the Democratic Party has largely ignored and often disrespected. That neglect led to the successful left-populism of Bernie Sanders and the right-populist rhetoric of Donald Trump, which helped him win the White House — aided by what Van calls the “dirty right,” which includes white supremacists and neo-Nazis who, along with Trump, fanned the flames of racism. Van’s “greatest fear” is the growing strength of that dirty right. He calls on true conservatives to denounce those groups forcefully.

According to Van, the way forward to a positive, proactive grassroots movement that unites Americans “across the board” is a patriotic affirmation of core American values: all are created equal, and liberty and justice for all. Conservatives have emphasized liberty. Liberals have focused on justice. Van says we need both.

I agree with what Van has to say in this book, with two exceptions. One problem I have is with his total embrace of “American exceptionalism.” America is no more unique than other nations and it is not unequaled in terms of its positive qualities. The World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations, ranks nations. In 2017 the United States ranked 14th overall — only because it was 9th in GDP per person. On every other measure, the U.S. ranked much lower. And its overall score had declined since the previous report. Humility on the world stage is in order.

The book’s most serious flaw, as I see it, is its unequivocal affirmation of the upward-mobility template that is reproduced through our society (and contributes to the mythology of American exceptionalism). That template nurtures hyper-individualism, extreme competition, the desire to dominate “inferiors,” and the willingness to submit to “superiors.” Requiring the poor to climb out of poverty is no way to eliminate the human and social costs that are inflicted by poverty.

That upward-mobility requirement fails to honor the principle of equality that Van highlights. We will not have equal opportunity so long as some people must climb a ladder to make ends meet and others do not. If privileged youth have guaranteed economic security, so should everyone.

Even if we eliminate unfair discrimination, offer compensatory education and training to poor children, and provide community support, as Van recommends, we still will not have equality before the law.

Worse yet, equalizing the opportunity to climb out of poverty will not end poverty so long as the federal government creates unemployment and poverty by limiting the number of living-wage jobs — in order to protect the creditor class from unexpected inflation, which eats away at their assets. The result of that policy is an inadequate number of jobs at the top of those ladders.

Moreover, so long as the goal of upward mobility is to climb higher so you can look down on and dominate those below, we will not have an egalitarian society. Rather we’ll have one based on achieving “superiority.” Van does not address that dominate-or-submit dynamic. Meritocracy — a system in which individuals are rewarded based on ability rather than class privilege — is not democracy.

The notion of having to climb ladders is a zero-sum concept. The assumption is that if you get ahead, I fall behind. A better solution is to affirm another founding American principle: promote the general welfare, which is included in the Preamble to the Constitution. If you thrive, I thrive.

Distributing federal revenue sharing funds to local governments, a conservative principle, to assure everyone a guaranteed living-wage job opportunity would help close the inequality gap. Then those who want to climb a social ladder could do so, but they would not be compelled to do so in order to live decently. A deep commitment to equality and love requires that we do no less.

But Beyond the Messy Truth barely talks about love. It affirms “love of nation,” briefly refers to Christians who embrace love, and asks those who are secular to respect Christians and other spiritual people. But it does not explicitly urge secular people to make a deep commitment to compassion in their daily life.

The book does say, “You can’t lead people you don’t love,” but the next sentence basically reduces love to “respect,” which is the primary theme of the book. It focuses on how political activists need to respect one another, but it does not deal with how all Americans need to respect one another throughout society and nurture collaborative teams whose members treat one another as equals.

The #LoveArmy, Van’s latest project, takes a more comprehensive and profound approach. That project is “a network of people committed to revolutionary love. We grow love + power through education, connection, and action. Together, we are building a nation where everyone matters and every vote counts.” Its core principles affirm:

  • We need each other. Listen with empathy, speak authentically,…
  • We recognize that our challenges are intertwined and that being united is our biggest strength….
  • Learn from mistakes, get better every time….
  • Relationship and community are the foundation of change. Call each other up – not out. Healthy competition has its place but cooperation is more often what we need….
  • Strive to be better. Trust yourself.

That affirmation of love, cooperation, mutual support, and ongoing self-development is powerful and critical.

Beyond the Messy Truth is an extremely valuable contribution that aims to help us “begin to come together, in a new way,” as Van envisions. The book points us in the right direction. Hopefully, the #LoveArmy will help us take more steps down that path toward fundamental social transformation.

Love Army Forum Convenes

For the first time in my life, I found myself with a sizeable group of political activists willing to be open and honest about personal failings and mistakes and committed to ongoing self-development as well as pragmatic and visionary political action. I felt like I had found a home. It was last night at a #LoveArmy forum convened by Anjali Sawhney in San Francisco.

Some Thrive East Bay events I’ve been to recently have also been rewarding. But this one seemed to hit even closer to the center of my heart.

The fifteen participants included:

  • An African-American man who said he can have civil conversations with racists.
  • An African-American man who said he aims to handle troublesome behavior like water off a duck’s back, while saying “That’s his problem.”
  • A white mediator who convened a number of virtual dialogues between liberals and conservatives prior to the last Presidential election.
  • A white social-service worker who decided after struggling with it not to label Trump supporters “irredeemable” and “deplorable” but still believes it’s important to “call them out” for noxious behavior.
  • A white man from Iowa struggling with trying to understand his friends and relatives back home who have troubling opinions.
  • An African-American man who’s helping to organize a “million-man” march on Washington of formerly incarcerated individuals in three years.

During introductions, when I expressed my passion, Anjali responded, “Wow. That’s really in line with our mission.” That felt good. As I left, she said she hopes to participate in my November 9 book club discussion of the new book by the #LoveArmy founder, Van Jones. I left with a warm glow and a free copy of his book, Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together.

My main reservation about the forum was a feeling that some of the participants may worship Van too much. He’s very compassionate, charismatic, wise, sharp, articulate, and quick. Partly because I’ve had some good connections with him in the past, I trust him and hold him in very high regard, though I haven’t agreed with everything’s he’s said. But our experience with Barack should remind us: no one will be our Savior. No one is perfect. Submission is always problematic. We, the people, must be leader-full.

The experience with Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition illustrates another point: structure matters. How to organize a democratic grassroots movement is not easy. A balance between centralization and decentralization is essential. Representatives from the grassroots need to have a real voice with the national office, without paralyzing it. I look forward to hearing what Van and his team think about this issue.

In the meantime, I’ll read Van’s book quickly and take note of points with which I disagree. It’ll be interesting to see how many there are. Reading it may prompt me to modify extensively the booklet I’m writing, Transform the World with Holistic Politics: Grow Supportive Communities . But I suspect his book will only help me improve my work.

My New Booklet

For fifty years, my life has been dedicated to advancing fundamental social change by trying to help organize communities whose members both support one another in their self-development and engage in political action together. Some of those efforts to “integrate the personal and the political” have been more successful than others.

I’ve also self-published two books, Global Transformation: Strategy for Action and My Search for Deep Community: An Autobiography. Those books were essentially first drafts that I circulated quickly to get feedback to help improve my thinking before composing briefer, more marketable books.

Now I’m summing up my conclusions in a small booklet, whose working title is “Transform the World with Holistic Politics: Grow Compassionate Communities.”

I hope to find a publisher that will help market and distribute the book. Now that I’m retired from part-time cab driving, I could also promote the book myself.

Until I finish a solid draft of that declaration, I may not be posting much of my own writing here. When I do have a complete draft, I will periodically post segments here and seek feedback.

Keeping faith,

Glide 2.0

This morning I wake up thinking about a proposal that I might present to the new Lead Pastor at Glide Church, Rev. Jay Williams, Ph.D. I’ve been to Glide Celebrations a few times recently, but have not heard Pastor Jay preach. However, I did like the statement he made at the recent Interfaith Gathering Against Hate at Temple Emanu-El. And I appreciate that he had his two co-pastors join him at the podium there and introduced them as fellow team members. Teams are good. And I like what I heard and experienced at those Glide Celebrations, which attracts people from throughout the world. So, hopeful that his team and the Glide Community would be receptive to my ideas concerning holistic politics, I complete the following draft:

Glide Church
Global Transformation Project
9/3/17 Draft

At each Celebration and in other ways Glide Church invites people who affirm a brief Statement of Principles (not yet written) to organize or join a local 12-person Global Transformation Team whose members meet at least once a month to:
+Share a meal.
+Report to one another on the following questions:
++What have I been doing to become a better person?
++What will I be doing to become a better person?
++What have I been doing to help improve my nation’s public policies?
++What will I be doing to help improve my nation’s public policies?
+Plan activities for some or all team members to engage in prior to the next team meeting. Possibilities include but are not limited to social, recreational, political, and cultural activities.

NEXT STEP: Form a Glide study group to consider this proposal and, perhaps, draft the Statement of Principles.

Drafted by:
Wade Hudson

Recently my writing had focused on the United States, but as I thought about Glide’s global reach, I shifted back to Global Transformation, the title of the 2007 book I wrote in Tepoztlan, Mexico. Though I was not ignoring global issues in the “Transform America” booklet I was writing, a broader focus seems called for. So I print the Glide Church proposal, place it in an envelope, and head out.

Then, at the conclusion of his excellent sermon, Pastor Jay reports that the new pastoral team will be initiating a serious, strategic planning process to shape Glide’s future. Three points in his report strike me. He emphasizes that it will be highly collaborative, the whole congregation will work on it together. He refers to a commitment to “justice for all.” And he says the scope of the planning will be “international.” Talk about synchronicity!! It sure feels that way to me.

After the service, I approach Pastor Jay.
We embrace warmly.
I say, “Great sermon. And I liked your statement at the Interfaith Gathering Against Hate.”
“Thank you.”
“I didn’t know about the strategic planning process but I woke up this morning with some ideas about a Glide project.”
“So it seems we’re on the same wavelength.”
“I was an Intern Minister here in 1970 and for the last several years I’ve been a member of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.”
“Yes, Howard Thurman’s church.”
“I’ve been coming here for a month or so and would like to get involved in the planning and printed out some ideas. Should I give you a copy now?”
“Yes, great.”
I give him the envelope and, after another warm embrace, go to Room 201 to become an official member of Glide Church.

Systemic, Holistic Thinking

In “What Makes a Terrorist?” Nafees Hamid presents a particularly clear argument for systemic analysis and a holistic perspective on what leads jihadist terrorists to engage in terrorism.

He argues:

The greatest difficulty for our ability to understand and respond to terrorism and radicalization is linear thinking. Arguing that radicalization is caused by poverty because most modern jihadists come from marginalized neighborhoods is the same flawed logic as arguing that radicalization is caused by Islam because jihadists are all Muslims. Even combining Islam and marginalization as risk factors doesn’t get us far, as only a fraction of a percentage of marginalized Muslims join jihadist groups. One can add many more factors and still end up with the same dilemma. Trying to find a root cause of radicalization is doomed from the start because it assumes a single, linear chain of causation.

Instead, it is better to think of radicalization as a phenomenon in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Multiple factors interact in complex ways that cause radicalization to emerge in individual people and groups. As with other complex systems, such as ecosystems, removing one factor does not cause the system to collapse but instead to evolve in ways that may be positive or negative.

…Radicalization is a complex system that cannot be reduced to its individual factors. International conflicts, social networks, community, ideology, and individual vulnerabilities all combine to let radicalization emerge. Some of these factors may be more volatile, such as individual personalities, while others are more stable, such as social networks. But only a holistic view of this phenomenon can provide the understanding needed for designing policies to counter the pull of extremist groups.

His approach applies to other issues as well.

An Open Letter to Nonviolence Advocates

I urge the nonviolence  community to develop a plan for how to minimize violence at political demonstrations. One option is to form a “white shirt community” whose members wear white T-shirts and stand between potentially violent forces, such as the police, neo-fascists, white supremacists, and the Black Bloc or antifa.

Properly organized, a large gathering of those who believe in nonviolence could consider various options, adopt a plan for action, and sign up people to implement it. Well-organized nonviolent measures could help discourage provocations by demonstrators and overreactions by police.

Rather than organize their own demonstrations, violence-prone anarchists hijack peaceful demonstrations. One rationale they use is self-defense. They claim to be protecting themselves against police violence. If violent anarchists attacked white-shirt teams, they could not use that argument.

Another justification they employ is preventive violence. They say they want to “nip in the bud” fascism before it flowers. But their actions promote fascism.

Neutrality and a “diversity of tactics” are not working. While primarily putting their efforts into life-affirming nonviolent demonstrations, and without taking a stand on defensive violence, advocates of nonviolence need to unite to counter those who initiate violence.

The time has come for the nonviolence community to solidify and take steps to help prevent, or at least minimize, violence at peaceful political demonstrations.

Love Overcomes Hate in San Francisco

Though the organizer has a different story, I suspect the reason he cancelled the Patriot Prayer rally at Crissy Field in San Francisco on August 26 is that the police had established tight controls that would have greatly minimized the risk of violence, as has happened at other Patriot Prayer rallies in other cities.

The police offered to escort the speakers to the permitted rally, where they would have been surrounded by barricades and police. They could have proceeded, spoken to their small group of supporters, and gotten some press coverage. But wanting to provoke violence, they declined the opportunity to exercise their free speech rights there and tried to conduct a “press conference” in a more inflammatory setting, Alamo Square Park, without a permit. When the police prohibited that, they went to a nearby town, Pacifica, and conducted a tiny, largely ignored event of some sort.

Meanwhile, counter-protesters, who gathered in a number of locations throughout the city during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, presented a powerful life-affirming message of “peace, love, and understanding.” Many of those protesters eventually converged in Civic Center Plaza, my destination.

While sitting on the grass, resting, waiting to video the large march coming from the Castro District, a KCBS radio reporter conducted a live interview with me, which I recorded. He was very pleased with my contribution. On YouTube, I posted a video of that interview (the audio sounds better on a phone or tablet than it does on a full sound system), as well as a video of the pre-rally and the march as it arrived. All in all, a wonderful day and a good example of the preferred method of  “Countering Violent Anarchists,” as I argued in that post.

Indivisible SF instructed their members not to criticize violence-prone demonstrators when questioned by the media. But after interviewing folks at the “Interfaith Gathering Against Hate,” most of whom affirmed such criticism, as I reported in that piece, I took a different approach. I told KCBS, “I want to promote nonviolence over against violence, whether initiated by the right or the left.”

That formulation leaves open the question of violence that is truly defensive, but it rejects preventive violence that aims to “nip in the bud” fascism before it flowers — if only because such violence is counterproductive.

Eva Paterson Lights Up the Temple

Prior to going to the August 25 “Interfaith Gathering Against Hate” at Temple Emanua-El, which featured Eva Paterson as guest speaker, I received an email from Indivisible SF that provided guidance for how their members should respond to media inquiries at the expected Patriot Prayer rally that had been set for Crissy Field in San Francisco the next day  (before the organizer cancelled it after the San Francisco police communicated their vigorous plan to prevent violence). Those instructions included:

Do not criticize any other activist groups or activists. You can say, “That’s not an effort that we organized,” “No, I am not a part of that group,” or “We took a different approach of…” but that’s all.
If you are asked about violence or disruption, you can say that Indivisible SF is nonviolent and is here to demonstrate our opposition, not to antagonize or silence.
The media may try to bait you into either criticizing or condoning violent counter protests. Don’t do it! This feeds their “both sides” narrative and can be used to hurt our allies, even ones who didn’t actually commit any violence. Just come back to what we believe and why we are here.

Having mixed feelings about that guidance, as people gathered at the Temple, I asked several participants if they believe nonviolence advocates should publicly criticize those who initiate violence in efforts to shut down or silence free speech by neo-fascists or white supremacists. Most of them said yes, we should criticize them, though one or two were not certain. Many of them said they consider it a difficult and important question.

I also asked one if he believes that the nonviolence community should come together to develop a common plan for how to minimize violence at demonstrations. He replied in the affirmative and elaborated with great passion about the current fragmentation.

I also took note of one respondent’s suggestion that we organize a well-trained team of nonviolence advocates who would travel and engage in well-structured dialogues about race and related issues with folks with whom we have strong disagreements. He recommended bearing in mind the report from one former neo-fascist who said that what led to his conversion was hearing people talk about how neo-fascist statements affect them personally.

The interfaith service itself was marvelous. One highlight for me was the Jewish music. Another was Episcopal Mark Andrus’ statement that he has concluded he was wrong that Trump’s election was a 1939 moment — because as it has turned out, we have learned from the 1930s that we must resist. And the Buddhist Reverend Ron Kobata quoted a passage from Howard Thurman recommending that you ask yourself, What is it that makes you come alive?

Though she faced a tight time limit, Eva managed to get in a number of strong points. Early on, she asked the participants to meditate on and connect with all of the people in the world who are not bigots. I believe she said they constitute a majority.

After presenting some statistics on the increase in hate crimes in the United States, she said:

We need to show up for each other at other’s events and physically bear witness.
Believe a Higher Power will get us through this.
We must do this with love. We have to try to love them — or at least wish they would go away, which elicited considerable laughter.
We must stand up against evil and bigotry.
Remember the world is a beautiful place.
Art knows no fear.

And with that final comment, she closed with two poems.

The low road
By Marge Piercy

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


My 1:20 minute video of the event is on YouTube at