Can ‘the walk’ express itself as a movement?

2002-07-10

Richard Moore

Bcc: misc.

Dear friends & neighbors,

Several people have written in support of the Zen
transformation idea, suggesting that what we need
is a 'movement' to push it forward.

At first such a suggestion seems out of tune with
the lessons of the quest:  Movements, even when
they become successful revolutions, do not leave
us with a lasting society-as-community.

But as some of you have pointed out, this critique
may not apply to movements which are about process
instead of about agenda, about 'mind changing'
instead of about 'programs'.  Let's explore this
possibility a bit.

Imagine a movement whose objective is simply to
promote collaborative consensus sessions,
particularly ones that deal with problems in
physical communities and neighborhoods.  Such a
movement would presumably involve an activist
network of facilitators and facilitator trainers.
It would also reach out to and involve community
activists and local citizens' groups of various
kinds.

By bringing 'those trying to solve problems'
together with 'those who can facilitate', such a
movement might be able to get 'the walk' going in
our societies.  And since the movement is focusing
on 'the practice', rather than on 'the goal', it
would seem to be consistent with the Zen perspective.

What this means is that the movement would ~not~
want to put forward 'transformation of society' as
its 'goal'.  If it did, it would be likely to
fragment immediately as people began to debate
what a transformed society should look like, and
whether there might be faster ways of getting
there.

On the other hand, it might not be a good idea to
put forward 'consensus facilitation' as a program
either.  For one thing, such a goal would appeal
mainly to those in the facilitation field, and
those who already have experience with consensus
and group process.  It would not have a strong
appeal to those more interested in solving some
immediate problem, or who have another vision of
how conflicts should be resolved.  This goal would
be ~too~ narrowly focused on the details of the
practice.  It would be as if Zen were promoted as
a 'sitting game'.

'Transformation' is too big, and 'consensus' is
too little... is there anything  'just right'?
Permit me to suggest 'community empowerment' as a
goal such a movement could effectively put
forward.

'Community empowerment' makes sense to people with
immediate problems and to community activists, as
well as to people who know about facilitation and
group practice.  It emphasizes what people ~gain~
from the movement, rather than what the movement
might ~do to~ them'.

Let's assume the movement begins to chalk up some
success stories.  If the movement wants to
publicize those successes, the most effective way
would be to describe the advances made in the
communities, and to point out that the people 'did
it themselves'.  This is likely to attract
attention from other communities - it would be in
their own self interest to pay attention. They
would be less interested in the details of the
process than they would be in the answer to this
question:  "Can you folks help our community make
similar gains?  Can we also move toward
empowerment?"

And since 'community empowerment' is an
ever-unfolding endeavor, the movement never loses
its steam no matter how many successes it
experiences.  There is always a bigger community
that needs forming, all the way up to global
society itself.  And all along the way there are
new problems to solve, even after the elite regime
has faded into history like a bad dream.

--- 

To be sure, there are already people out there
pursuing 'community empowerment'.   Some of those
may be using quite different methods, and there
could be some ruffled feathers and territorial
responses to a new movement sporting that same
title.

I suggest that any such conflict would be a
perfect target for our trusty consensus-session
process.  Why not gather into a session diverse
folks from the ~larger~ community empowerment
movement, along with some of our 'collaborative
consensus' folks - and see if we can't forge
together a spirit of 'community' and mutual
understanding among us all?

--

Comments invited from all quarters.

nasrudin








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