re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives


Richard Moore

Bcc: contributors


These are all responses to our posting of 10 Oct, which has been nicely formatted and reposted to the serendipity site, thanks to Peter Meyer:
You’ve sent in many other comments on later postings, but I’ll delay those so we don’t get overwhelmed with material.
all the best,
From: “Madeline Bruce” 
Date: 12 October 2009 15:28:07 IST
Subject: Re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives
Hi Richard.  Bless you for keeping up the good fight and manning the fort. You provide a focus, a central point for the best ideas and values of people, with your lamp always burning in the window.  Our culture has so deteriorated that we are participating in the deluge without any prompting.  I attended a recent cross-cultural fund raising dinner for earthquake victims. A worthy and generous endeavor.  Instead of the emphasis being on the wonderful opportunity for strangers from different cultures to meet and begin to understand and appreciate each other, there was a terrible blasting of loud, cheap music throughout the evening.  You could not hear yourself think, never mind think of something to say to your neighbor at the dinner table.  Which brings me to the subject of music in our present society.  It could be such a motivating force for good.  Think of Joan Baez, Woodie Guthrie, and Bob Marley.  – Madeline Bruce, Nanaimo, B. C. Canada.   
From: Diana Skipworth 
Date: 12 October 2009 15:31:25 IST
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>
Subject: re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives
I am inviting you to see my daughter reading Smedley Butler’s gangster essay on YouTube.  My channel is greatbroad.  (I have a new video too, but I appear 80 years old).
One thing I try to do is recruit local young people to activism, and you can see some of them, now and then in a video I post. (some are subscribers of mine — ha,ha!)
From: Thomas Schley 
Date: 12 October 2009 16:56:15 IST
Subject: RE: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives
RKM wrote:
The same kind of blind spots exist in economics, history, and political science. In every field there are unexamined assumptions that throw all ‘consensus’ conclusions into serious question. 
Hi Richard,
MIT economist examines what he calls our blind spots in both our economic and social interactions. Scharmer: “Illuminating the Blind Spot”
     Why do our attempts to deal with the challenges of our time so often fail? Why are we stuck in so many quagmires today? The cause of our collective failure is that we are blind to the deeper dimension of leadership and transformational change. This “blind spot” exists not only in our collective leadership but also in our everyday social interactions. We are blind to the source dimension from which effective leadership and social action come into being. We know a great deal about what leaders do and how they do it. But we know very little about the inner place, the source from which they operate.”
and Scharmer’s “The Blind Spot in Economic Thought, Seven Acupuncture Points for Shifting to Capitalism 3.0”
When Scharmer speaks of leaders I get the sense he is working toward us all becoming our own leaders…at least working toward that possibility.  He is looking for a way for us all to be able to access that spot whereby creativity arises.
I find it fascinating how one idea (blind spot for example) or phrase is able to bring out such a diverse yet relating response from our group.  It really does give a clear example of how we are are joined in community and consciousness though we be spread over the planet.  This is very exciting.
From: Molly Morgan 
Date: 12 October 2009 18:57:19 IST
Subject: re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives
Dear Richard –
Fascinating post and intriguing discussion. I want to offer my two cents.
Your opening quote from Brian’s book puts some scientific research to what I observed during my years of political activism, and which you have long discussed. It became clear to me that one can provide reams of incontrovertible information to people demonstrating a truth or a falsehood, but if they have a psychological or emotional need to hold onto their beliefs, no power on earth can convince them to change. Once I realized this, I could step back from activism and see that most of what my friends and I were doing was trying ever harder to convince people of our point of view and how rarely it actually succeeded. We were usually preaching to the choir. Not enjoying banging my head against a brick wall, I decided to pull back and see what I could learn about how to connect to people and really build community in a more effective way. Being an activist leads to a high burnout rate, and another thing I saw was people falling into insular, self-congratulatory, superior attitudes to deal with how hard the work is. If it can’t be sustainable as a lifestyle, it’s obviously not going to change the world. There are a few activists, people burning with a fire from within, who can keep it up, and they are often an inspiration to many. But if what is keeping you going is just your beliefs, it may last for a long time, but often it seems not to. The cultural conditioning is just too strong and the rewards just too few. I don’t mean to say here that activism is a waste of time. But much of the activity doesn’t result in any real change and it uses up a huge amount of energy. You have made this point, too, of course.
An early experience for me shook me deeply. I’d been learning intensely as a new activist (in my 40s) and found myself talking to a good friend from my former world in computer graphics. As I spoke intensely of whatever political issue was on my mind at the time, I used the word “propaganda” to refer to information from the other side. My friend, who I assumed would agree with me but did not, sharply turned to me and said, “And whose propaganda have YOU been listening to?” I realized in that moment that I didn’t have any direct experience of any of these perspectives — I was just sympathetic to one over the other. It began a decay from the inside for me, and although it took several more years before I stopped being an activist, that awareness was important to take the wind out of my sails. This is a personal experience of what you’re talking about how people are so influenced by the cultural conditioning. All the rest of the indoctrination you mention through education rings strongly true for me, too.
For me this questioning eventually led to much more spiritual exploration and my pursuit of a master’s in psychology through a transformational, experiential program. Through both of these I’ve been exposed to the idea of identity being a burden, something we must jettison if we’re to work from our true self and provide our own unique contribution to the world. It’s very easy on this path to just swap one identity for another and convince oneself of how much you’ve changed, a feature of dualism. But as your original post and the discussion are showing, it ain’t easy giving up our identities. Our egos and minds are strong. But there are processes and techniques that can help this if people really want to do the work, and I am particularly excited about the state of this development today after several decades of eastern spirituality meeting western psychology. I’m still exploring all this, but there is much richness and possibility there. We are learning to put our egos and minds — unique features of humans — into the service of life and evolution. There is so much brewing just below the surface.
Regarding leadership, I think we need to redefine the way it is usually used and seems to be so far in this discussion. I like the concept of leadership function as distinct from an individual person being a leader. If a healthy community has a leadership function, the person best qualified to lead at any given moment can take on that role. This provides for a fluid changing of the individuals so that the needs of all are optimally served — and this makes sense because situations are always changing, sometimes significantly and sometimes subtly. This means that anyone can be a leader at any time if everyone involved is operating from an awakened state or at least a set of shared values. For this to be possible, the community is best served if no one thinks of themselves as superior or inferior, just differently gifted. It is a model to strive for. If I remember correctly, I think Daniel Quinn refers to some of this in his books when talking about indigenous cultures.
I like your choice of “synthetic” culture, but it might be worth reconsidering. I assume you are using it in the sense of “fake,” but the Greek root of the adjective is the same as the noun, synthesis, meaning putting together. Synthesis is something I think we’re trying for here, and even though I think the most common contemporary sense of “synthetic” is “fake,” perhaps “manufactured” or “man-made” will serve as well.
I am currently living in a small, rural community whose culture is heavily influenced by a significant underground economy. It is also a place where there is a lot of creative, radical thinking being actively employed in people’s daily activities. Some days it is really hard to figure out what the hell is going on. There are plenty of internecine feuds, and given our small size and remoteness, it amazes me that people don’t have a much stronger sense of the need to pull together despite their differences. There is plenty of traditional rural mutual support when someone is injured or very sick, as evidenced by letters in the local weekly paper. But I see this as the well-documented emergency phenomenon when people’s natural tendency to help someone bursts forth in heart-warming stories of the best we can be. When things settle down, though, it’s back to the Hatfields and McCoys, only in this community the players and the rules keep changing. I’m a newcomer, so trying to keep up and learn some of the history of why people make the choices they do is like the never-ending peeling of an onion — always another layer.
Thanks for facilitating this great discussion.
From: “Claudia Woodward-Rice” 
Date: 12 October 2009 19:26:23 IST
To: “‘Richard Moore'” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: RE: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives
rkm wrote: I wish we could be more productive in an activist sense. One possibility would be for us to share reports about our own communities.

Some synergy is at work today, I only wish it were more positive. I just wrote the following as part of a thread (discussing your post) with my email group today:
     You are certainly right about civic/community groups. Anyone willing to take responsibility and do the work can usually find it. In my own experience I got tired of being the “lone ranger” tho I have a friend who is also task oriented and we have shared a variety of projects to good effect.
      This has been on my mind recently since a friend/neighbor died suddenly and we attended her memorial service last weekend. She was a very sweet, easy going person who took on many responsibilities. She was also very dogged and determined, quietly pushing for years to get results for some of her efforts. Jean was more of the old-school woman leader who did things indirectly, a process that irks me but that I can see does work eventually, and people seem to like it better than more direct efforts.
      I’ve always favored ensemble efforts where everyone pitches in with enthusiasm. But is seems people are less and less interested or capable of this (or maybe that’s just here?). I see many feuds, dueling boards, lawsuits etc that make me wonder why there are so many dysfunctional people who enjoy conflict? And of course the do-nothings who want to critique later will always be with us.
      My response after 10 years of active community “leadership” has been to pull back and adopt a more supportive role. If a project has enough momentum already but needs financial/recordkeeping help or grantwriting, I’m happy to assist and happy also to skip most of the meetings.
      State and local governments are increasingly trying to push off their duties on to volunteer community organizations. Of course, it saves them a lot of money! And there is a tremendous need wherever you look. This growing need and what appears to be a lessening capacity to cooperate for the common good leave me very concerned.
From: “Howard Switzer” 
Date: 14 October 2009 00:12:49 IST
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives
Relating to beliefs, this comes from a member of our Tennessee Green Party, Big Tree, aka Bob Smith:
This is my nation and country. I don’t see any lines drawn on it. Nor do I see any illegals in it other then the ones who stole it from me. Illegals are the ones who rape it for timber, uranium, gold, silver, iron, oil and such that is not wearable, edible or provides shelter and medicine. Illegals are the ones who develop not because of need but to enrich them self at our expense. Illegals are the ones who demand we give them our wampum in exchange for nothing. Illegals are those who say go and fight in this war or that without reason. Let each people live in harmony with each other and let them trade for what they need without borders. Let them learn from each other, that misunderstanding and war will be no more. Let none go hungry, none go without shelter and none go without the opportunity to learn and contribute to the greater good. Let each have a place where they can grow food for them self and their neighbors. Let each then share in the bounty provided by Grandmother Earth. Each to their needs without greed. This I will work for, this I will give my life for, and no less will I accept. There is no difference between a black woman or a white baby or a yellow man nor a red person, that was taught to me by the elders. All are two legged animals no better then our brother the deer or our sister the wolf. Take only what you need and give thanks to it for filling your needs. Let each live the life of their choice as long as they do no harm to others.

Big Tree 10/11/09