‘At the deepest level of our being, of course, all of us need love. But often our love is like a frightened child, crouching in the chamber of our heart and afraid to come out. Capable of singing with the voice of an angel, it whispers instead, in fear of being laughed at. Meant to extend its blessing to all the world, it cowers in fear of being punished for having tried.
Fear, however, has no such compunction. It seeks to nullify love. It yells, it struts, it wars, it destroys without regret, it laughs at human suffering. It kills.
Right now, greed is put into action, fear is put into action, military madness is put into action, corruption is put into action, voter suppression is put into action, racial injustice is put into action, authoritarianism is put into action…and the list goes on.
Surely it’s our job now to put love into action.
But we’re living at a time when love must expand its influence beyond just personal to collective expression.
Such considerations are at odds with a dominant economic paradigm that puts short term profit before all else.
“I didn’t do it! It was my government!” will only take us so far at this point. Ignorance is not an excuse before the law, either worldly or spiritual. Spiritually we’re not even ignorant of the Law, so much as we’re just choose to ignore it.’
That needs to change.
All of us need to play our part. When hate speaks loudly, it’s not enough for love to whisper….
Early adopters change the world.
While one person choosing not to eat meat will have a small impact on our climate, it will have a much bigger impact on the restaurants, groceries and food suppliers who notice what you’re doing.
They’ll change what they offer, and that will lead to a multiplier effect of other people changing their habits.
Buying an electric car or installing solar before they’re the obvious economic choice has the same impact. Because once marketers and investors discover that there’s a significant group that likes to go first, they’re far more likely to invest the time and energy to improve what’s already there.
The same goes for philanthropy. When some people eagerly fund a non-profit with a solution that’s still in beta, it makes it easier (and more likely) that someone else will start one as well.
It also happens in the other direction. If we buy from a spamming telemarketer, abandon a trusted brand to save a buck or succumb to the hustle, the market notices.
Very few people have the leverage to change the world. But all of us have the chance to change the people around us, and those actions change what gets built, funded and launched.
Predatory capitalism refers to cultural acceptance of domination and exploitation as normal economic practice. … Less well scrutinized is how predatory capitalism has disrupted non-economic institutions, particularly cultural, social and democratic institutions.
~Austrialian National University
It originally means, “no longer believing in magic.”
Humans like magic. It gives us solace and energy and hope.
In many ways, the rational era of science and engineering and evidence and proof eliminated any practical belief in magical forces. We know how and why the sun sets every night.
But we still desire magic.
Creating it is a gift.
And magic? Intentionally moving energy. Way better than hope. Let’s do some shifting. ~dayle
An act or utterance that backfires on its originator.
“People are culturally wired to want to reciprocate. That’s one of the things that make a community function–someone does something nice for you and you’re inclined to want to find a way to do something nice in return.
Along the way, that instinct has been turned into a selfish way to get what you want.
Find someone you need (or will need) something from, figure out a way to do them a ‘favor’ and then use the interaction to create the conditions where the other person feels obligated to help you in return.
First, no one likes to be hustled.
Second, your hustle is more transparent than you realize.
Third, people value things differently. The thing you thought was a big lift didn’t mean that much to the person you did it for, or the thing you’re hoping they’ll do in return is far more difficult than it appears to be from your perspective.
The alternative is to go through your day oblivious to the idea that reciprocity might be a thing that other people feel compelled to act on. Simply show up with good intent to do work that you’re proud of.
If we do this with consistency and care, sooner or later, it comes back around. Not because we hustled, but precisely because we didn’t.”
Karma. Same. Cruelty does not go unanswered. It may take centuries, or a moment of simple awareness…the hustle…and knowing in that instant, “I am done.”
J’ai fini. -dayle
“When your day is long,
And the night, the night is yours alone,
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life,
hang on…hang on. [R.E.M.]
We’re not in a race to check off as many boxes as we possibly can before we are out of time. Instead, we have the chance to use the time to create moments that matter. Because they connect us, because they open doors, because the moments, added up, create a life.
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.
If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.
Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here—time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.
Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. . . . Without non-paper elements, like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.” –Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh
What do you see?
‘I bring a sun-shift to others when I shift my light. Darkness does not exist in the light.’ [A Course in Miracles.]
If you feel uncomfortable with anything, you should re-consider your situation.
Cut your losses.
Far better to admit a mistake than to persist in it and allow it to develop into a nightmare.
During the Nixon administration in the 1970’s, the FCC called the Fairness Doctrine the “single most important requirement of operation in the public interest” (Becker, 2017, para. 8)
Becker, W. (2017, Feb. 23). What’s behind Trump’s war with the press? Huffpost.
The internet clearly has a trust problem. As with most things, it helps to start with the Grateful Dead.
After their incarnation as the Warlocks, they became more than a band. It was a family on the road. There were people who gave up their careers to follow them around, living on buses… they were seeing thirty or forty shows a year. You traded tickets, did favors, built relationships. People in the family knew that they’d be seeing each other again soon.
And then, in 1987, Touch of Grey went to #1 (their only top 40 hit) and it attracted a huge (and different) crowd to the shows. Reports were that the intimacy and trust disappeared.
Glen Weyl points out that the internet was started by three tribes, as different from each other as could be. The military was behind the original ARPA (and then DARPA) that built and funded it. Professors at universities around the world were among the early users. And in San Francisco, a group of ‘hippies’ were the builders of some of the first culture online.
Because each of these groups were high-trust communities, it was easy to conclude that the people they’d be engaging online would be too. And so, as the tools of the internet and then the web were built out, they forgot to build a trust layer. Plenty of ways to share files, search, browse, chat and talk, but no way to engage in the very complicated things that humans do around identity and trust.
Humans have been in tribal relationships since before recorded history began. The word “tribe” appears in the Bible more than 300 times. But the internet isn’t a community or a tribe. It’s simply a technology that amplifies some voices and some ideas. When we don’t know who these people are, or if they’re even people, trust erodes.
When a site decides to get big fast, they usually do it by creating a very easy way to join, and they create few barriers to a drive-by anonymous experience. And when they make a profit from this behavior, they do it more. In fact, they amplify it.
Which makes good business in the short run, but lousy public policy.
Twenty years ago, I wrote that if someone goes into a bank wearing a mask (current pandemic aside) we can assume that they’re not there to make a deposit.
And now we’re suffering from the very openness and ease of connection that the internet was built on. Because a collection of angry people talking past each other isn’t a community. Without persistence of presence, some sort of identity and a shared set of ideals, goals and consequences, humans aren’t particularly tempted to bring their best selves to the table.
The system is being architected against our best impulses. Humans understand that local leadership, sacrifice and generosity build community, and that fights and scandals simply create crowds. Countless people are showing up, leading and pushing back, but algorithms are powerful and resilient, and we need some of them to be rebuilt.
Until there’s a correlation between what’s popular or profitable and what’s useful, we’re all going to be paying the price.
Opinion by Nicole Hemmer
‘The Fairness Doctrine, a regulation from the late ‘40’s until 1987, dictated balanced coverage of controversial issues on broadcast radio and television. After its repeal, Rush Limbaugh & Fox News quickly became two of the most influential political institutions in the US.
Want to reinstate the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine to help curb the spread of disinformation? Conservatives and liberals both may well want to reconsider that idea, argues a Columbia University scholar.’
What America needs instead is a creative, comprehensive effort by both the private sector and the government to disincentivize conspiracies and misinformation on the many platforms on which they flourish. Some social media companies have begun this work, clearing out QAnon sites and banning some far-right and White power users and communities who pose a threat.That work needs to continue, with careful attention to the biggest offenders who game algorithms and media structures to spread misinformation. But sources of misinformation also need to be demonetized, whether they are YouTube channels or national cable networks, and algorithms tweaked to slow down the spread of extreme content.’
I Talked to the Cassandra of the Internet Age
The internet rewired our brains. He predicted it would.
Posted on twitter 2.4.21:
“I’m going to spend more time writing on this because this is not only a digital detox story. it’s a story about power. And it’s at the center of everything.”
“Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you’ve never heard of. Here’s a short list of things he saw coming: the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the near destruction of our ability to focus.
Most of this came to him in the mid-1980s, when Mr. Goldhaber, a former theoretical physicist, had a revelation. He was obsessed at the time with what he felt was an information glut — that there was simply more access to news, opinion and forms of entertainment than one could handle. His epiphany was this: One of the most finite resources in the world is human attention. To describe its scarcity, he latched onto what was then an obscure term, coined by a psychologist, Herbert A. Simon: “the attention economy.”
Advertising is part of the attention economy. So are journalism and politics and the streaming business and all the social media platforms. But for Mr. Goldhaber, the term was a bit less theoretical: Every single action we take — calling our grandparents, cleaning up the kitchen or, today, scrolling through our phones — is a transaction. We are taking what precious little attention we have and diverting it toward something. This is a zero-sum proposition, he realized. When you pay attention to one thing, you ignore something else.
The idea changed the way he saw the entire world, and it unsettled him deeply. “I kept thinking that attention is highly desirable and that those who want it tend to want as much as they can possibly get,” Mr. Goldhaber, 78, told me over a Zoom call last month after I tracked him down in Berkeley, Calif. He couldn’t shake the idea that this would cause a deepening inequality.
“When you have attention, you have power, and some people will try and succeed in getting huge amounts of attention, and they would not use it in equal or positive ways.”
More than a decade later, Mr. Goldhaber lives a quiet, mostly retired life. He has hardly any current online footprint, except for a Twitter account he mostly uses to occasionally share posts from politicians. I found him by calling his landline. But we are living in the world he sketched out long ago. Attention has always been currency, but as we’ve begun to live our lives increasingly online, it’s now the currency. Any discussion of power is now, ultimately, a conversation about attention and how we extract it, wield it, waste it, abuse it, sell it, lose it and profit from it.
While Mr. Goldhaber said he wanted to remain hopeful, he was deeply concerned about whether the attention economy and a healthy democracy can coexist. Nuanced policy discussions, he said, will almost certainly get simplified into “meaningless slogans” in order to travel farther online, and politicians will continue to stake out more extreme positions and commandeer news cycles. He said he worried that, as with Brexit, “Rational discussion of what people stand to gain or lose from policies will be drowned out by the loudest and most ridiculous.”
“A friend of mine told me of a guru from Sri Lanka who asked, ‘What will be the undoing of humanity?’ He answered: ‘The separation between you and me.”
Ahimsa, nonviolence, asks us to abandon the notion of separation.”
When nonviolence in speech, thought, and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.’ -Yoga Sutras
“Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service; you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” -Martin Luther King, Jr
This week, our nation will shift to new leadership and take the next step in creating a country rooted in justice and opportunity––a country we know is possible.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1967 speech at New York’s Riverside Church characterized these moments of transformation as “revolutionary times” when “new systems of justice and equality are being born.”
As we look to this day as a moment to celebrate and honor Dr. King’s work, let’s take time to continue his legacy of forging a new and better day by serving our communities. Below are some ways to do so:
#1 – Volunteer with a number of organizations working in areas ranging from education to homelessness through the Presidential Inaugural Committee
#2 – Volunteer to transcribe historical documents through the Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program
#3 – Write letters to seniors who are in self-isolation with Letters Against Isolation
#4 – Support our military and first-responders with Operation Gratitude
#5 – Send a message of hope and healing to a child awaiting surgery through the World Pediatric Project
#6 – Transcribe Library of Congress documents with By the People
#7 – Help Food Pantries near you serving those who continue to face food insecurity
#8 – Provide groceries to those who are at heightened risk for COVID-19 with Invisible Hands
#9 – Strengthen emergency relief efforts with the American Red Cross
#10 – Check out MLKDay.gov, which allows you to search additional volunteer opportunities in your community
3 Types of Kindness
There is the kindness of ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ And the kindness of “I was wrong, I’m sorry.” The small kindnesses that smooth our interactions and help other people feel as though you’re aware of them. These don’t cost us much, in fact, in most settings, engaging with kindness is an essential part of connection, engagement and forward motion.
And then there is the kindness of dignity. Of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The kindness of seeing someone for the person that they are and can become, and the realization that everyone, including me and you, has a noise in our heads, a story to be told, fear to be danced with and dreams to be realized.
And there’s another: The kindness of not seeking to maximize short-term personal gain. The kindness of building something for the community, of doing work that matters, of finding a resilient, anti-selfish path forward.
Kindness isn’t always easy or obvious, because the urgent race to the bottom, to easily measured metrics and to scarcity, can distract us. But bending the arc toward justice, toward dignity and toward connection is our best way forward.
Kindness multiplies and it enables possiblity. When we’re of service to people, we have the chance to make things better.
Happy Birthday, Reverend King.
‘The first half of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography makes some things abundantly clear:
He had no natural ability to play the guitar. In fact, after his first lessons, he quit, unable to play a note.
He had no singing talent. Every group he was part of needed a lead singer, and it wasn’t him.
And just about everyone dismissed him. Audiences walked out, his first agent simply stopped returning his calls and bandmates gave up and moved on.
He didn’t even know how to drive a car. Not only wasn’t he dating in high school, he wasn’t even cruising around town, being a charismatic rock star.
Talent is overrated. Skill is acquirable.
Showing up is something almost every creative leader has in common. In business, in the arts, in society. Consistently shipping the work, despite the world’s reaction, despite the nascent nature of our skill, despite the doubts.
And community is essential. The people you surround yourself with can reinforce your story, raise the bar and egg you on.
After the fact, the community becomes an integral part of your story of success. But first, you have to commit to the journey.’
-Seth Godin, author
“Writing about yourself is a funny business…but in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind.”
Can we agree at least on this?
Betting on the future.
From Seth Godin:
“I just installed new smoke detectors in the house (definitely worth the hassle and low expense) and the batteries now last ten years.
There’s a little spot on the side of the detector to write the year you installed it.
I’m wondering what the person (maybe me) who changes the batteries a decade from now will think when they see “2020” written on the side.
Whatever happens over the next ten years, if history is any guide at all, the year we just finished will be mostly a faded memory.
What will matter more than what just happened is what we decide to do with where we are, daily, persistently, generously, for the next 3,650 days.
Here’s to possibility, to justice, and to betting on the future.”
From Seth Godin.
“People like us do things like this.”
Social media understands this.
It also knows that people like points, likes and something that feels like popularity.
The social media companies optimized their algorithms for profit. And profit, they figured, would come from engagement. And engagement, they figured, would come from confounding our instincts and rewarding outrage.
Because outrage draws a crowd.
And crowds establish culture.
And a desire to be the leader of a crowd reinforced the cycle.
And so the social networks created a game, a game in which you ‘win’ by being notorious, outrageous or, as they coined the phrase, “authentic.” The whole world is watching, if you’re willing to put on a show.
That’s not how the world actually works. The successful people in your community or your industry (please substitute ‘happy’ for successful in that sentence) don’t act the way the influencers on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook do. That’s all invented, amplified stagecraft, it’s not the actual human condition.
Many of us have an overwhelming need to rubberneck, to slow down when we pass a crash on the highway. This is odd, as most people don’t go out of their way to visit the morgue, just for kicks. And yet…
I hope we’d agree that if people started staging car crashes on the side of the road to get attention, we’d be outraged.
That’s what happening, and the leaders of social networks pretend that they can’t do a thing about it, just as Google pretends that they can’t control the results of their search algorithm.
The shift that the leaders of the social networks need to make is simple. In the long run, it will cost them nothing. And within weeks, it will create a world that’s calmer, happier and more productive.
Amplify possibility. Dial down the spread of disinformation, trolling and division. Make it almost impossible to get famous at the expense of civilization. Embrace the fact that breaking news doesn’t have to be the rhythm of our days. Reward thoughtfulness and consistency and responsibility.
You can do this. Enough already.
Seth Godin, author, public speaker, teacher:
“Standing at my desk this summer, it had just turned 10 am, and I realized that I’d already:
Heard from an old friend, engaged with three team members on two continents, read 28 blogs across the spectrum AND found out about the weather and the news around the world.
Half my life ago, in a similar morning spent in a similar office, not one of those things would have been true.
The incoming (and our ability to create more outgoing) is probably the single biggest shift that computers have created in our work lives. Sometimes, we subscribe or go and fetch the information, and sometimes it comes to us, unbidden and unfiltered. But it’s there and it’s compounding.
One option is to simply cope with the deluge, to be a victim of the firehose.
Another is to make the problem worse by adding more noise and spam to the open networks that we depend on.
A third might be, just for an hour, to turn it off. All of it. To sit alone and create the new thing, the thing worth seeking out, the thing that will cause a positive change.”
A conversation with Masha Gessen on how to prevent “autocratic breakthrough,” why Russiagate was a “crutch” for the left, and what really happened in that New Yorker election s(t)imulation Zoom
A reelected Donald Trump, abetted by a 6-3 Supreme Court, is truly a terrifying prospect — very possibly the end of the American republic in any real sense. But we are not there yet. Where we are, in fact, is in the liminal space where it is still possible to achieve a different future.
This looming election may well be the last exit before autocracy.
That was one of the things I carried away from my conversation with the brilliant Masha Gessen, whose wisdom I’m so happy to be sharing with you today. This era has revealed its share of charlatans and criminals and fools. But it has also revealed genuine heroes — including intellectual ones. One of mine is Masha.
Masha is a journalist and writer and thinker who spent the first part of their career in Russia, writing about science, democracy, autocracy, and disease. Then they made a home in America, where it turned out that some understanding of science, democracy, autocracy, and disease would prove very handy.
Masha was made for this moment. To be clear, given their interests, you actually never want to be living in a time and place that Masha was made for, but here we are.
The question is what happens next. If he, God willing, wins, I think that in some ways Biden can be a transformative president, because I think that there’s a grand ambition there, that’s become very clear, to invest in infrastructure, to create a new welfare state, to bring the country together in some really, I think, beautiful ways.
What gives me hope is distinct from the question of whether I’m optimistic. I can be incredibly pessimistic, but hope is a necessity of survival and a moral imperative. I hope because I have to, because a better future is possible. The foundational requirement for it is hope.
I use the word autocracy intentionally, instead of authoritarianism, for two reasons. One is because I’ve spent so much of my life writing about totalitarianism that, in that context, authoritarianism is something distinct from totalitarianism. Authoritarianism is a kind of regime in which basically the ruler wants people to go home and tend to their private lives while they run the country. So nothing is political under authoritarianism; everything becomes private. Politics as such disappears.
Under totalitarianism, it’s the opposite. The totalitarian leader wants people out in the public square at all times, demonstrating their support for him. Under totalitarianism, nothing is private; everything is political. It’s the private that disappears.
So let’s stick with autocracy. Where are we in the autocratic arc? I hope we’re at the stage of the autocratic attempt. If there’s a spectacular failure of this election, not a failure as in Donald Trump wins, but a failure as in, he doesn’t leave office because he can abuse the courts, abuse the power of the courts and secure being able not to leave office that way, because he can create enough chaos to throw election results into enough doubt that he doesn’t leave office — if there is an actual engineered failure of the election, then we have already passed the point of no return, the point of autocratic breakthrough. So I don’t actually know the answer. I very much hope that we’re at the point of an autocratic attempt, and that attempt will be reversed because we vote him out of office.
The borough’s proposal for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 28th Amendment — a proposal
Whereas the government of the United States should represent all of the people of the United States equally,
ction 1. The Electoral College shall be abolished and the President selected by popular vote; Senate membership shall be reallocated to reflect more accurately the distribution of the national population, with a minimum of one seat per state; Election Day shall be a national holiday; elections shall be publicly financed. All citizens of the United States, including those living in its territories and the District of Columbia, shall have the same electoral rights and representation as residents of a State; all citizens of voting age shall have the unencumbered right to vote in federal, state, and local elections. Congress shall have the power and obligation to enforce these provisions by appropriate legislation.
Section 2. In recognition of the inherent dignity of all persons, Congress shall have the power and obligation to enact appropriate legislation to secure all rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to education, healthcare, housing, employment, food security, and a clean and healthy environment.
The scientific method is the most powerful invention humans have ever created. It’s not just for people in white coats and in labs. The scientific method has changed what we wear, what we eat, the health of our families, the way we earn a living–the world as we know it is a result of a simple process of hypothesis, testing and explanation.
Unfortunately, school and other systems in our world focus on just one or two of the elements necessary to do it well.
- Know the rules, maxims and outcomes that came before. Do the reading, score well on the test.
- Understand the thinking behind these rules, so you can dive deeper and either change the rules or expand on them.
- Do tests that others haven’t thought of or that people don’t think will work. Intentionally create falsifiable hypotheses, knowing that you might be wrong, and then go test them.
- Publish your results so that others can examine your work and improve it. Show your work. Invite correction and improvement.
- Explain what you did clearly so that it becomes part of the canon, so it can be used by others, until it’s replaced by something even more useful.
There are very few contentious arguments in our world today that couldn’t be more quickly resolved if all involved were willing to act in good faith and work their way through the steps together.
Because if you seek to lead or to change minds, if you’re working for better, then you’re a scientist.
From author Seth Godin:
In this whiteboard video, Seth Godin challenges you, whatever it is you do for a living, to figure out how to do work that matters, work you’re proud of.
“This is the book I need right now. It’s an extraordinary and electrifying call to action for writers, artists and creators in every walk of life. I re-read passages and felt as if my own secret creed was being explained back to me, in words I hadn’t yet found.”
—Rosanne Cash, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter
Creative work doesn’t come with a guarantee. But there is a pattern to who succeeds and who doesn’t. And engaging in the consistent practice of its pursuit is the best way forward.
Based on the breakthrough Akimbo workshop pioneered by legendary author Seth Godin, The Practice will help you get unstuck and find the courage to make and share creative work. Godin insists that writer’s block is a myth, that consistency is far more important than authenticity, and that experiencing the imposter syndrome is a sign that you’re a well-adjusted human. Most of all, he shows you what it takes to turn your passion from a private distraction to a productive contribution, the one you’ve been seeking to share all along.
With this book as your guide, you’ll learn to dance with your fear. To take the risks worth taking. And to embrace the empathy required to make work that contributes with authenticity and joy.
Authenticity is mandatory, I think, yet, I understand their message.- dayle
Ruth Bader Ginsburg “knew the power of example—that if you live your own life according to your principles, others will follow,” writes her former clerk, Ryan Y. Park, Solicitor General of North Carolina.
My Friend and Boss, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“A big deal in the revival of local news: Nonprofit Mountain State Spotlight
Dr. David Bohm:
“Dialogue is really aimed at going into the whole thought process and changing the way the thought process occurs collectively. We haven’t really paid much attention to thought as a process. We have engaged in thoughts, but we have only paid attention to the content, not to the process.
It is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated.”
The first lesson I learned is that we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Only talking to people who agree with us, it’s not going to get us to the solution. We have to be willing to enter other people’s space. Because quite often, the enemy has the power to change the problem that we’re trying to solve.
The world’s smallest and biggest problems, they won’t be solved by beating down our enemies but by finding these win-win pathways together. It does require us to let go of that idea of us versus them and realize there’s only one us, all of us, against an unjust system. And it is difficult, and messy, and uncomfortable.
The arc and the arch.
They sound similar, but they’re not.
An arc, like an arch, is bent. The strength comes from that bend.
But the arc doesn’t have to be supported at both ends, and the arc is more flexible. The arc can take us to parts unknown, yet it has a trajectory.
An arch, on the other hand, is a solid structure. It’s a bridge that others have already walked over.
Our life is filled with both. We’re trained on arches, encouraged to seek them out.
But an arc, which comes from “arrow,” is the rare ability to take flight and to go further than you or others expected.
HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR POLITICAL OPPONENTS
This story is from Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild.
‘For this book, the professor emerita of sociology immersed herself in the American political right wing. Over the course of five years, she regularly stayed in ultraconservative “Bayou Country” in Louisiana. She herself comes from lefter than left Berkeley, California. She couldn’t have left her bubble any further behind.
‘When left-wing sociologist Arlie Hochschild went to live in a right-wing stronghold in the American South, she was entering “enemy” territory.
But, by listening to the people there – instead of arguing against them – she distilled a clear picture: right-wing Trump supporters felt like victims of a society that had left them behind.
In an era where debate has descended into a televised shouting match, it’s easy to feel like you’re at war with people who disagree with you.
But Hochschild learned that by laying down our arms and trying to understand, even empathise with, our political opponents, we can learn how to have constructive political conversations.’
‘Having a heart-to-heart conversation with an ideological opponent can feel uncomfortable – unsafe even. But sociologist Arlie Hochschild proves that it pays off. She immersed herself in a conservative stronghold in the Southern United States for five years and wrote a book about it.’
Not everyone agrees with this approach, Hochschild said during a 2016 interview with Ezra Klein. It can feel as though you’re surrendering, laying down your weapons and walking over to the enemy. But, she says:
Whether it’s about corona, climate or benefits, let’s carry out these diplomatic missions more often. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other, but at least you’re making a genuine attempt to understand the other person.’
“There was always just enough virtue in this republic to save it; sometimes none to spare, but still enough to meet the emergency.”
—Sec. of State William Seward during the Civil War
Fr Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation:
The desert ascetics’ [ammas and abbas] relationships were nonpossessive: They cared for others while leaving them free. Concern for reputation was discarded. Feelings were acknowledged and listened to for their wisdom but were subjected to the discipline of the heart’s goal to seek God. The desert ascetics sought to mortify disordered passions that distracted them from their deepening relationship with God..Gaia…the Universe.
These were people who believed that to let oneself drift along, passively accepting the tenets and values of what they knew as society, was purely and simply a disaster. -The Wisdom of the Desert
One of the greatest needs of humanity today is to transcend the cultural limitations of the great religions and to find a wisdom, a philosophy, which can reconcile their differences and reveal the unity which underlies all their diversities.
Professional wrestling isn’t about wrestling, of course. It’s about who’s up and who’s down. The stated rules are there to be broken by some of the participants, and it’s not professional in any useful sense related to the sport of wrestling.
And the metaphor is powerful in many areas of life.
But we can’t understand the metaphor without understanding the forms of status that are on offer.
There is the status of affiliation. This is about belonging, about knowing and living with the rules. It’s about weaving together the culture and this affiliation leads to a form of popularity.
And then there is the status of dominance. This is about winning at any cost, cheating and subjugating. It’s about unraveling the culture in service of just one aim–victory over the others.
Professional wrestling creates tension between the two forms of status. We know that we all benefit from affiliation, but often are swayed by the avenging dominator if we see ourselves in them.
The theater of status happens in our daily lives. It’s who sits where at the meeting, or who gets to announce that the Zoom session is over. It’s the insurgent and that the status quo.
It’s the dramatic back and forth between someone who seeks power and someone who is tired of being told what to do.
The successful affiliator doesn’t seek to out-dominate the dominator. Instead, affiliators weave together enough persistent community pressure to get things back on track.
And sooner or later, people realize that the triumph of the dominator, while it can be painful, is short-lived.
Story from Our Community:
Nearly every day since we started quarantine, I sit outside for my morning prayer time. As part of this, following reading the daily meditation, I play the “Prayer for Our Community” at the conclusion where Fr. Rohr reads the prayer. When he pauses after the words, “Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world,” I quietly bring those to the energy of the space: my parents, my students, those suffering with Covid, our country’s reckoning with its systemic racism, our climate emergency.
‘Left alone, capitalism devolves into corruption, bribery & predatory pricing monopolies—capitalism pollutes rivers, damages our health & creates ever greater divides. Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, dark patterns of social media & doom scrolling.’
The problem: how can we get people what they want and need?
It turns out that the simple short-term answer is the market.
The marketplace makes it possible to buy a nail clipper made of hardened steel for just four dollars, but only when you’re ready. The marketplace offers some people a solid brass set of the cups and balls magic trick and other people a hand-blown glass vase.
The marketplace is hyper-alert and never tires of finding overlooked corners of desire.
But the marketplace is not wise.
It’s blind, short-term and fairly stupid. Because it has no overarching goal. The market is nothing but billions of selfish people, trading this for that, without regard for what’s next.
Left alone, capitalism will devolve into corruption, bribery and predatory pricing leading to monopoly. Left alone, capitalism will pollute rivers, damage our health and create ever greater divides.
Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, the dark patterns of social media and doom scrolling.
Because the market isn’t wise. It has no sense of time or proportion.
The only way for the simple answer to solve our complicated problems is for it to have guardrails, boundaries that enable it to function for the long haul.
That’s something we need leadership to get done. And it’s more likely to get done if we acknowledge that we need to do it.
With the current administration depleting and weakening the U.S. postal service in front a national election complicated by a deadly global pandemic, comedian Bill Maher makes a serious suggestion. Get what we need and want now via Amazon, etc., and then stop. Ease the process for postal workers to receive absentee ballots so they can meet deadlines and tallies by election day.
“Democracy isn’t a spectator sport, and if DT is going to try to scuttle the Post Office, we need to fight back. It is in our power to give less mail to process. Let this be our October surprise.”
Carole Cadwalladr is a British author and investigative journalist/The Observer.
“We are what happens to a western democracy when a hundred years of electoral laws are disrupted by technology. Is this what we want? To let them get away with it?”
A Kenosha Militia Facebook Event Asking Attendees To Bring Weapons Was Reported 455 Times. Moderators Said It Didn’t Violate Any Rules. It remained up. Two people were shot dead. Then it came down.
Their excuse? ‘Operational mistake.’
“Over and over again Facebook fails to stop the glorification and celebration of white supremacist violence. It’s disgusting and unacceptable.”
Jay Rosen, Journalism professor at NYU:
“The conservative commentator Ben Shapiro has gotten 56 million total interactions on his Facebook page in the last 30 days. That’s more than the main pages of ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR combined.”
Seth Godin, author and former ‘dot com’ business executive:
‘Systemic problems demand systemic solutions.
First, we have to pay attention.
Then we need to acknowledge that a solution is possible.
And then we need to commit. To the long, persistent road to altering the status quo.
The world is forcing us to pay attention to lingering problems more urgently than ever before. Real change on issues of dignity, justice and health are long overdue
Urgent problems are too important to earn only a moment of our attention. Important projects demand that we keep showing up to make the change we seek. Showing up and showing up, at the root and at every turn, consistently working toward systemic solutions.
When we think about the problems we’ve solved as a community, this is the way it always happens. Making things better, over time, with focus. Persistent commitment doesn’t lower the urgency of the moment, it acknowledges it.’
Kevin Roose, NY Times Columnist:
“If you don’t think DT can get re-elected in November, you need to spend more time on FB. The result is a kind of parallel media universe shaping its own version of reality.”
August FB interactions:
CNN: 21 million
Ben Shapiro: 55M
August FB video views
The Hodgetwins: 84M
August FB shares:
Dan Bongino: 5.6M
CNN’s Brian Stelter talks ‘Citizens Agenda’
The news media needs a reset.
Jay Rosen explains ‘Citizen’s Agenda.’
The Citizens Agenda is a model for generating more responsive, inclusive & useful news coverage for voters.
Center for Action & Contemplation, Aug. 28th:
‘Group egocentricity is even more dangerous than personal egocentricity. It looks like greatness when it is often no more than disguised egotism. Loyalties at this level have driven most of human history—and most wars—up to now.’
‘Often, people encounter ideas that are spreading like wildfire.
The problem with a wildfire is that not only is it out of control, but it leaves nothing but destruction in its wake.
Build an idea that spreads like wildflowers ✿ instead.’
The Unspoken Privilege of Being White
For a long time, I naively hoped that racism was a thing of the past. Those of us who are white have a very hard time seeing that we constantly receive special treatment [because of social systems built to prioritize people with white skin]. This systemic “white privilege” makes it harder for us to recognize the experiences of people of color as valid and real when they speak of racial profiling, police brutality, discrimination in the workplace, continued segregation in schools, lack of access to housing, and on and on. This is not the experience of most white people, so how can it be true? Now, we are being shown how limited our vision is.
Because we have never been on the other side, we largely do not recognize the structural access we enjoy, the trust we think we deserve, the assumption that we always belong and do not have to earn our belonging. All this we take for granted as normal. Only the outsider can spot these attitudes in us.
[And we are quick to dismiss what is apparent to our neighbors who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] from their lived experience.]
Of course, we all belong. There is no issue of more or less in the eyes of an Infinite God. Yet the ego believes the lie that there isn’t enough to go around and that for me to succeed or win, someone else must lose. And so we’ve greedily supported systems and governments that work to our own advantage at the expense of others, most often people of color or any highly visible difference. The advancement of the white person was too often at the cost of other people not advancing at all. A minor history course should make that rather clear.
I would have never seen my own white privilege if I had not been forced outside of my dominant white culture by travel, by working in the jail, by hearing stories from counselees and, frankly, by making a complete fool of myself in so many social settings—most of which I had the freedom to avoid!
Power [and privilege] never surrenders without a fight. If your entire life has been to live unquestioned in your position of power—a power that was culturally given to you, but you think you earned—there is almost no way you will give it up without major failure, suffering, humiliation, or defeat. As long as we really want to be on top and would take advantage of any privilege or short cut to get us there, we will never experience true “liberty, equality, fraternity” (revolutionary ideals that endure as mottos for France and Haiti).
If God operates as me, God operates as “thee” too, and the playing field is utterly leveled forever. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we then rush down instead of up. In the act of letting go and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible. The illusory state of privilege just gets in the way of neighboring and basic human friendship.
-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
100 ways you can take action against racism right now
If you’re looking to get involved outside of organizing in person, we’ve rounded up a list of ways you can take action from home, including ideas specific to demanding justice for Floyd and addressing racism in general.
[Also showing on Netflix.]
Previously unseen footage is shaped into a fresh and timely retelling of the 1992 Rodney King trial — and the verdict that sparked civil unrest–the acquittal of four police officers for beating a black motorist saw several days of protests, violence and looting in Los Angeles. Gives back story to the Watts Rebellion of 1965 in South-Central Los Angeles. Directed by T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay.
We can’t permit the murder of people because of the color of their skin. Institutional racism is real, it’s often invisible, and it’s pernicious.
And White Supremacy is a loaded term precisely because the systems and their terrible effects are very real, widespread and run deep.
The benefit of the doubt is powerful indeed, and that benefit has helped me and people like me for generations. I’m ashamed of how we got here, and want to more powerfully contribute and model how we can get better, together.
It doesn’t matter how many blog posts about justice I write, or how clear I try to be about the power of diversity in our organizations. Not if I’m leaving doubt about the scale and enormity of the suffering that people feel, not just themselves, but for their parents before them and for the kids that will follow them.
It’s easier to look away and to decide that this is a problem for someone else. It’s actually a problem for all of us. And problems have solutions and problems are uncomfortable.
[From two years ago, even more relevant right now]
You will never regret offering dignity to others.
We rarely get into trouble because we overdo our sense of justice and fairness. Not just us, but where we work, the others we influence. Organizations and governments are nothing but people, and every day we get a chance to become better versions of ourselves.
And yet… in the moments when we think no one is looking, when the stakes are high, we often forget. It’s worth remembering that justice and dignity aren’t only offered on behalf of others.
Offering people the chance to be treated the way we’d like to be treated benefits us too. It goes around.
The false scarcity is this: we believe that shutting out others, keeping them out of our orbit, our country, our competitive space—that this somehow makes things more easier for us.
And this used to be true. When there are 10 jobs for dockworkers, having 30 dockworkers in the hall doesn’t make it better for anyone but the bosses.
But today, value isn’t created by filling a slot, it’s created by connection. By the combinations created by people. By the magic that comes from diversity of opinion, background and motivation. Connection leads to ideas, to solutions, to breakthroughs.
The false scarcity stated as, “I don’t have enough, you can’t have any,” is more truthfully, “together, we can create something better.”
We know it’s the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing.
Stronger than the Golden Rule? Platinum:
Treat others as they wish to be treated.
But what about the moral imagination?
Visualizing what’s possible. Deciding to do something about it. Wondering (to ourselves and then to the world, “how can I make this better?”)
Not because it’s our job or because we’ll win a prize. Simply because we can.
We can start where we are and we can make things better.