Activism, Leadership

The Humor of Political Difference

I am really happy about the number of women who were elected to Congress this fall. I posted a status update to this effect a few weeks ago. One of my friends, someone that I knew very well when I was a child, wrote a snide remark in response to my post. Normally, I might have found this to be offensive. But I know that he was, and probably still is, one of the funniest people I have ever known. I chose to feel amused and I responded with a similarly snide, yet convivial, comment.

Perhaps the true problem in our political system is that we are too serious and angry. It is not our difference that is problematic– it is our identification with, and interpretation of, these differences that causes conflict.

So let’s lighten up. Let’s focus on the seriousness of the issues we are exploring, but let go of the personal attachments that cause us to react with emotional violence. Let’s create a more miraculous world through our political system, and have fun doing it.

Activism, Poetry

My NIMBY Campaign

Some people are prejudiced and judgmental.

Not in my backyard.

Some people are indifferent toward people who are poor or homeless.

Not in my backyard.

Some people prefer to protect themselves rather than to serve humanity.

Not in my backyard.

Some people project their fears onto the world around them.

Not in my backyard.

Some people perpetuate violence rather than promote peace.

Not in my backyard.

Activism, Leadership

Harmony

Harmony is the middle way between anarchy and institutionalism. Harmony flows gracefully and steadily while anarchy is chaotic and institutionalism is stagnant. There are times when each degree of control, or lack thereof, can be useful. Perhaps it is most helpful to be aware of the circumstances and intentionally choose the degree of control that will promote progress and peace.

Activism

The Process of Social Change

I would like to introduce a proposed four step social change process:

  1. Provocation – Something happens that raises a question about the legitimacy of an existing social condition or raises awareness about an existing unjust social condition – OR – something happens that provokes the imagination in such a way that a better alternative future is envisioned
  2. Introspection – A person or group of people develops a strong personal conviction and thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity through thought, meditation, and/or prayer
  3. Confrontation – The social condition (real or imagined) is interpersonally explored and contested both with insiders and then with outsiders
  4. Transformation – A new social agreement is developed and implemented
Activism

A Revolution or The Revolution

Every day, the earth rotates 360 degrees on its axis. Each year, the earth revolves around the sun. Revolutions are a natural part of the ebb and flow of life. Every breath we take is a potential revolution. Every thought, every word, every gesture. We need not plan or wait for a big revolutionary event; the very act of being alive is itself a revolution.

I admit that I sometimes hold naïve and romantic ideas about revolution. The word revolution seems to terrify most people, even though our nation was founded after a revolutionary war. Revolution understood as the unfolding process of life can beautify and sanctify our world. This is what I mean by revolution.

Activism

Peaceful Communication

I find the use of the word nonviolent troubling. The word nonviolence assumes that violence is the norm and as long as we use words such as nonviolent the material conditions that create such a norm cannot be shifted. Using double negative language reinforces the very things we want to change; at best, it cancels out negative things. Our language should reflect the world we are trying to create. It should be superfluously affirmative and constructive. For example, we can engage in peaceful communication instead of nonviolent communication. The more we express what we desire, the more easily it will become the norm.

Activism, Leadership

How Much Inequality is Too Much?

It might surprise you that as a socialist, I support some degree of income inequality–particularly given the real economic, material, and relational conditions of the world in which we live. When I worked as an executive director, I earned a little more than four times more than our lowest paid staff. I think this was fair, because I had two master’s degrees and over a decade of experience while our lowest paid staff were high school students. That being said, I certainly do not support the irresponsible and unjust income inequality that currently exists in the United States and around the world. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation was more than 200 times more than nonsupervisory workers in 2011 in the United States.
Here are a few questions to guide further discussion about income inequality. Please share your thoughts!
1. Is there a minimum standard of living to which all people of the world should be entitled?
2. How do we define that minimum? By whose standards is that produced?
3. What contributions to society (no necessarily economic), if any, should be required?
4. What contributions lead to what standards? What is the best means to compute this (capitalism?)
5. Is this possible given the current social and economic structure?
6. How can the environment best support human endeavor and human endeavor best support environmental sustainability?