Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Shackling hope and opportunity with the chains of entrenched power

There are some disturbing cliches that limit, if not actually preclude, the seeding, nurture and development of a global, tolerant, supportive and ultimately survival attitude and mentality needed for the next century.

Some of the cliches are relatively new, while others are traditional. Among those relatively new rhetorical epithets, are:

·        Globalism, and a global economy will lift all boats

·        Technology will solve our most pressing problems

·        Economics are the core of all public issues and debate

·        Jobs must prevail over the protection of the environment

·        Labour rights and protections are a drag on the balance sheet of major corporations

·        Racism, sexism, ageism and religious bigotry reside only in the eyes and minds of those who consider themselves victims

·        Colonialism is the generator of the world’s history of development

·        Individual morality trumps a shared ethic

And among the more deeply rooted epithets that impede a ‘world view’ consciousness are:

§  All politics is local

§  All leaders must submit to a microscopic disclosure of their history, if we are to trust them enough to vote for them

§  My father always bought a Ford, GM, Chrysler and those Asian cars only take jobs away from ‘our people’

§  The unique characteristics of our town, village, township demand that we reinforce them in our kids: how we ‘see’ strangers, how we value (or disparage) change, how Catholics and Protestants do 9or do not) get along

§  How our neighbours acted when there were disputes

§  How the “outside” authorities (province, state, nation) ‘saw’ our little town, in respect to the pork-barrel we received, compared with other towns in the riding

§  How we elevate our local heroes to the stature of rock-stars, as a sign of the pride in what an ordinary kid can accomplish

§  How we denigrate our “failures” as a way of denying, avoiding and condescending the back-stories, in which we might have a part, in order to avoid any shared, collective, and community responsibility

§  How we revere the locals with excess wealth, as if they are the primary custodians of our best values

§  How those living in the biggest houses are both revered for their political and social influence, as well as despised for their arrogance in ‘reverse snobbery’

§  How our local media, in addition to the ads, and the obituaries, concentrate on the police report, the court report and the church/fund-raising socials, as if the core themes of issues mattered only to the official and elected representatives

§  How fires, ambulances, burglaries, murders and tornadoes, while significant, like magnets attract both supportive help and festering nests of gossip

§  How family breakdown, alcoholism, drug addiction is seen and spoken of in a “tutt-tutt” righteously superior manner, by those looking in from the outside

§  How homeless is regarded as a “scourge” on the community, committed by the “no-goods” (not even the have-not’s) because if they were any good, they would not be this ‘drag’ on our community…they are certainly not role models, nor contributors, nor even respectable members of our community

§  How churches, in too many cases, turn up their noses and cast aspersions downward on those less well dressed, less fluent, less educated and certainly those of the LGBTQ community and those of a minority ethnicity

§  The sinister and lethal level of communal gossip that, like a viral pandemic, scurries over the facebook and the chat lines, Instagram and twitter, as a superficial glue and a toxic bullying tactic in both feigned superiority and inclusion, (in a small cell) as well as a lethal weapon of exclusion. The veneer of congeniality that, like mascara, attends public interactions, teaches everyone the acceptable topics of public discourse and the rejected topics of public discourse, both in families and in the community generally.

In a previous life, I encountered a slogan on a consulting firm that read:

           “Sustainable support for your most valued resource---your people”

Implicit in that sell line, were numerous, often obvious, implications that if that firm were hired to be an effective instrument in growing and developing the people in a workplace, there would be considerable attention paid to assessing:

ü the degree of open, frank and free communication,

ü the relationships between and among individual workers

ü the relationships between and among the levels of authority and supervision,

ü the cultural norms, expectations,

ü the relative comfort with change, and resistance to change

ü the conceptual framework of the organization (pyramidal, circular, ad-hoc teams) including how power/decision-making is both perceived and actually conducted

ü the individual traits of workers, leaders, and influencers..their strengths and weaknesses, from a professional perspective (without clinical assessment, and certainly not through deployment of some WACO personality test)

ü relationship of this firm to its relative competitors, and allies, suppliers, financial resources (again not from an accounting perspective, but from the impact of its over-all health on the performance of the objectives, goals, targets of the firm

Left outside the conventional parameters of the assessment, report and recommendations would be the various cultural, belief, and normative ‘bounds’ on the organization and its people, that either enhance or impede the effective functioning of the organization. These considerations would be considered extra-territorial, mere narrative backdrop, and like the finer details of each biography of each worker at all levels, would be considered the stuff of something akin to an anthropological or even archeological piece of research.

After all, the personal beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and the words and the manner of their expression through adaptation to new work routines, to new machines, to new thought processes and research, and even to the ‘outsider’ (consultant) would be at best a series of footnotes, not actually material to the obvious presenting issues facing the organization that prompted the consult in the first place.

Change, new ideas, new research, new notions of technology, and of experimentation, depending on the entrenchment of the culture in preserving everything “old” as “treasured” and “valued” because it is old, and represents the identity of the organization, all threaten the very identity of many cultures, and the people currently in charge with retaining that culture.

Careers have been built, families raised, communities told and re-told the same stories, through, for example, the media’s persistent repetition of the same old myths (new people are a threat, and the rich deserve the power, and the seemingly righteous are not what they seem, the poor have always lived over there, and caused problems as long as we can remember, the professionals think their ‘s- - t’ don’t stink, our only hope is to put a ‘native’ in office), simply because those myths, they knew, would sell their papers, and reap those advertisements on which they depended. Nothing “too radical” was ever permitted to make it past the publisher’s eyes and desk, for fear that the town would ‘turn on’ the paper. Stability, consistency, dependability and the revering of the town’s “foundational premises and assumptions” are at the heart of the local unspoken “secular religion”.

And we wonder why books like Thomas Homer-Dixon’s “The Ingenuity Gap…How Can we Solve the Problems of the Future” are written, printed, and then distributed. Naturally, from this perspective they are desperately needed. While it is true that some of the proverbial constricting, local myths are giving way to a new generation of youth, as well as a series of generations of immigrants, refugees and migrant scholars from around the world, and there is a flattening of the ‘apex’ of white, male, affluent, older and highly educated individuals’ power and influence, there is still a very long way to go even to ‘rounding’ the peak of that mountain.

It is a granite mountain of resistance,  that, while we cling to its reverence, its sustainability simply because it has been around for so long, and, in our mind thereby having justified its value not only for surviving but for the methods by which it was able to endure. We see signs on the entrances to towns and cities, “innovation and history thrive here” “touch the past, embrace the future” which, sadly, display a truth and a political and cultural dream that is very often, if not always, unappreciated especially by the old-timers, the urn in which the ashes of history are carried, and from which the dust of those ashes will continue to spread over the streets and the living rooms and the coffee shops and the pubs for decades if not centuries.

Town Councils, Regional governments, provincial governments and even national governments, as well as the organizations and corporations in their charge, are possessed by the need to ‘focus on the immediate crisis’ while, at the same time, doing so in a manner that will bring the requisite forces to bear on the potential resolution of that crisis. And while, for example, science and technology, through the plethora of labs, individually and collectively, pursue their own unique speciality of a treatment or cure, or a new algorithm, those new designs and discoveries have to find a receptive host outside the labs and the cyber/silicone caves. And it is far easier and more likely that the pill, medicine or software will find an immediate harbour of incubation and nurture, into acceptance, a similar process does not exist for the seeding, the nurture and the growth and acceptance of new attitudes, beliefs, and values especially into the rural and small urban centres across North America.

We hear and read about the ‘culture wars’ between the urban and rural voters in all elections. We also know that corporations tailor their advertising campaigns to ‘fit’ the culture of their specific demographic market. And we know that, for example, yoga and pilates, have found their way into the most remote corners of many communities across the continent. Tragically, so too have the amphetamines and their requisite labs for production and distribution, (AND PROFIT) have also found their way into the streets and the schools across the continent. It is neither surprising nor accidental that cannabis outlets have sprung up everywhere, having been unleashed by national and provincial governments. This is not an argument against those new commercial ventures, but only a manner by which to compare the relative penetration of the many diverse communities by a commercial newcomer, in reference to the likelihood of penetration of new ideas, processes, theories, and even beliefs that might free the local culture from some of the chains that bind it.

It has been argued, and written that the lectures, books and theories that are and have been unearthed in many of the graduate schools, especially of the liberal arts and theology schools, rarely if ever make their way into the minds, consciousness or even the public media in smaller and rural centres. The LGBTQ community, for example, has struggled to gain even tolerance, (certainly not acceptance) among the many churches across the continent. Liberation theology, as another now relatively ‘old’ school from South America, has barely shown its head in North America, although significant religious and spiritual initiatives to eliminate poverty have sprung up, without the added codicil of political activism on a multiple-issue basis.

I recently listened to a ‘local’ businessman articulate his prescription of how aproposed new (yet long established elsewhere) senior citizens centre needed to be brought to life: “whatever is done, it has be done very slowly…that is the way we do things here” were the precise words from his mouth. He was not being arrogant, presumptuous, or even ignorant of the culture of his community. He was merely asserting one of the cardinal rules of “process” for the community. It must be done slowly….

And when parsing the phrase, one has to wonder what are the underlying themes upon which his utterance is based. Is it the notion that by going slow, the town is more likely to get it right? Or is it that going slowly will be less intimidating to the original townsfolk because it kind of ‘slipped’ in by the back door, without causing a fuss? Or is it that going slowly will provide those ‘gatekeepers’ of the town (and every town, hamlet, organization, government, school, university, college and certainly every church has one or more) to assess both the project and the people leading, before putting the official “town stamp” of approval on the project? Or is it that the gatekeepers, because of their longevity, their deep acceptance among the insiders, must fulfil their self-assigned purpose of ‘keeping the sacred alive’ as if their perception of the identity of the town/region were the ‘right’ and the most ‘acceptable’ perceptions?

And, lying underneath many of the clichés like a silent, secret and yet ready to explode fire in the root of the tree of each hamlet is the fear that their unique and historic identity will be shattered by the invasion of new ideas, new people, new perceptions, new values and new opportunities. And whether that fear/resistance lies in insecure individuals inside families, or inside the town councils or the chambers of commerce, or inside the sanctuaries of the churches, or inside the local hospital, school, college or service club, it will inevitably prevail over the naivety, innocence, impetuosity and curiosity and energy of new infusions of talent.

And, that consulting company’s report and  account, while paid, will too often look like the proverbial ball of wet mud, thrown against the white office wall, only to leave a mere stain of brown when it dries. I know I have watched both side of this fault line. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

A humble homage to honourable dissent..in awe and gratitude to RBG

“Her dissents were not written for today but for the future.” These words were uttered moments ago from Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt while presiding over the commemorative ceremony in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol for the first woman and the first Jewish woman to lie in state in that place.

Dissent, the opinion of the minority on a panel of judges, does not carry the day, at the time the decision is rendered. Dissent merely records views and their reasons held by others not bending to the majority opinion. And, while issuing ever more “dissents” in recent years Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nevertheless, prophetically shines light, wisdom, insight, vision and hope down the dark tunnel of now. Henry David Thoreau wrote: “ I think it is enough if 9resistors0 have God on their side without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbours constitutes a majority of one already…..(and) wary of the majority, he advises the minority that it is “powerless while it conforms to the majority…but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. (Civil Disobedience)

Another historic and supporting quote, often attributed to Jefferson and also to Andrew Jackson, (without evidence) puts it this way: “one man with courage is a majority”

The revered writer, Mark Twain teaches: “Whenever you find yoursele4f on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).

And Tolstoy, too, the Russian literary giant takes a different perspective: ‘Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”

Playwright Henrik Ibsen: I don’t imagine you will dispute the fact that at present the stupid people are in an absolutely overwhelming majority all the world over.”

British philosopher Bertrand Russell: That fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widely spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.

Mahatma Gandhi: The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still small voice within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.

Samuel Adams: It does not take a majority to prevail…but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.

Cornel West: Of course, the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority.

And W. B. Yeats, the renowned Irish poet and writer:

In the great cities we see so little of the world, we drift into our minority> In the little towns, and villages there are no minorities; people are not numerous enough. You must see the world there, perforce. Every man is himself a class; every hour carries its new challenge. When you pass the inn at the end of the village you leave your favourite whimsy behind you; for you will meet no one who can share it.

Soren Kierkegaard: There is a view of life which conceives that where the crowd is, there is also truth. There is another view of life which conceives that wherever there is a crowd, there is untruth.

Prophetic voices, by definition, are not in conformity with the majority, given that for the majority, to belong has a higher premium and value than to be an outsider. There is another irony that those whose eyes are fixed on the future have no connection with the past, when, precisely the opposite it true. Only those, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who have steeped themselves in the tradition and history of both the law and the Jewish faith, know deeply, feel even more deeply, and take extreme care to posit thoughts, opinions, views and prophesies that can and will withstand the onslaught of incoming tides of opposition that are inevitable.

Entrusted with the position, the podium, the library, the history and the reverence of being the second woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, Madame Justice Ginsburg, took on the robe and the mantle of both authority and responsibility in a manner honouring the office, while at the same time giving voice to the millions, who, like her, have experienced rejection based on identity and deeply rooted unconscious and systemic bias (a woman, a mother and a Jew) when she was unable to find employment in a law firm upon graduating at the top of her class at Columbia Law School.

One of the most elusive, and yet at the same time, rhetorically and ethically pursued notions or ideals in the democratic state is this thing we call equality: between men and women, between and among races, between the rich and the poor, between the educated and those excluded from a higher education, between rural and urban, between farmers and industrialists. Nevertheless, while rebounding in the echo chamber of the media, the political campaigns, and the protest movements, as various groups seek legitimate redress, someone like Madame Justice Ginsberg offers a living example of marriage, motherhood, professional career success, grandmother-hood, and ultimately social and political icon. The cliché, she not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. And in doing so, she exposes the many who prefer the talk over the walk, as the easier and less dangerous path.

It has to be at least considered as something of a cosmic “synchronicity” that only a few weeks after the deaths of civil rights hero, John Lewis, and his compatriot Elijah Cummings, the nation mourns the death of “RBG.” These three, almost completely ignored in death by the president, and often ridiculed in life (especially Mr. Cummings) offer a dramatic character foil for the current occupant of the Oval Office, whose words and walk never concur.

Madame Justice Ginsberg’s often repeated words about the equality she pursued between men and women, resound around the world, underlined by the recent, brutal, racially motivated death of George Floyd, with a police officer’s knee on his neck: “I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” The metaphor of feet/knees pinning another’s neck to the floor/concrete is once again being held as a magnet uniting those forces among both blacks and women, at a time when the chief executive office of the most powerful nation on the planet, daily exhibits contemptuous attitudes to both groups.

She warns other women, and all those engaged in the long road of struggle for equality, dignity, respect and the opportunity that accompanies those rights, in these words: “Yet what greater defeat could we suffer than to come to resemble the forces we oppose in their disrespect for human dignity.” And, for those thousands of women who, in living out their dreams and their ambitions, have fallen in the very trap of thinking and acting in a manner similar to those men (mostly in navy suits) who, themselves epitomize the antithesis of respect for human dignity, these words are a worthy and notable caution.

Watching those political, legal and cultural icons mourn as they processed around the coffin of Madame Justice Ginsberg, one could not but take note of the notably missing: Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader McCarthy, and the president himself, who, upon paying respects yesterday at the Supreme Court, was booed and harassed by the crowd outside: “Vote him out” was their chant!

Leadership of what amounts to monumental social and cultural change, a subject that finds itself at the top of the currently political theatre playing out in the presidential campaign, as well as around the world on behalf of racial justice and equality, and certainly on behalf of environmental protection and security. And while the instruments of the law, the courts, the institutions and the establishments within, have a significant role to play in moving the prospect of a safe and healthy and respectful future for all, the voices of the outsider has never been more needed.

Once again, Madame Justice Ginsberg offers insightful guidance:

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

It is her demonstrated and proven ability, creativity, sensitivity and empathy to work with those whose views were and are diametrically opposed to her’s that qualify her as a role model for the process of evolution, and not revolution. Her caution that change that will last can and will only come slowly reverberates in the streets, as well as in the control rooms of many radio and television stations, themselves glued to the latest uprising engendering the most listeners and viewers, not to mention social media ‘hits’ and ‘likes’. The concept of instant gratification, while inordinately powerful among especially the young, in their private lives, does not have a similar application in the public square. Nevertheless, the legitimate demand of both women and racial minorities for justice and equality is finding resonance around the world in ways and places previously silent and out of mind.

Madame Justice Ginsberg’s personal and professional kinship with Antonin Scalia, the far-right justice who shared a seat on the court with her for most of her tenure, attests to her incarnating the adage, one can disagree without being disagreeable. At a time when political rhetoric in too many quarters, especially south of the 49th parallel, has slid into the slough of both despair and contempt, her breath of clean and healthy oxygen into the most contentious of deeply rooted issues and causes, carried by the most diligent, penetrating and cogent research into the most intimate details of each legal precedent could only inspire her critics. She not only out-worked them; she out-shone them in her command of the intricate details of each case, both the precedents and the current cases.

Justice Ginsberg argued, for example, in the United States v. Virginia case, that VMI* failed to show “exceedingly persuasive justification” for its sex-based admissions policy, violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Claus. By providing a parallel program for women (Virginia Women’s Institute for  Leadership, VWIL), Ginsberg argued that it would not provide women with the same type of rigorous military training, facilities, courses, faculty, financial opportunities and/or alumni connections and reputation. The argument was so deeply and soundly rooted in the constitutional argument, not merely on the special needs of women, (in fact taking such a wide berth around such stereotypical arguments) that she won a surprising 7-1 decision in the court. (Justice Thomas, a  graduate of VMI, recused himself.) (Wikipedia)

And now as the sun sets on the lives of American icons, human examples of the best the human spirit can and will offer to humanity, the world is holding its breath that the sun will also set on the worst of the American leadership examples, and remove the occupant of the Oval Office permanently, without doubt, without rancour and without violence. 

Doubtless, however, we can not expect that the removal will be without litigation, already marching through the lower courts, on the most banal, trivial, specious and narcissistic of issues. One blatant example, concerns the Depart of Justice’s contention that all naked ballots in Pennsylvania be removed from the count as ineligible. (Naked ballot is one not inserted inside the second, interior, anonymous envelope prior to mailing.)

Unfortunately, given the army of jurists already appointed and affirmed under the current administration, the likelihood of a decision that would be adverse to the administration is becoming less with each passing day.

How do we hold such platinum human spirits in our minds and hearts while having also to face the despicable details of political insurrection on behalf of a demonstrable unfit presidential candidate?


*VMI Virgina Military Institute 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Paranoid Patriarchy...toxic masculinity...on the ballot November 3

 While both anger and angst mount in the prelude to the presidential election in the U.S., pundits muse over polls, personalities, ideologies, platforms, and coffers. A penetrating ad here, a surprising endorsement there, a rally here, a virtual speech there…all of it engineered to capture both the imagination and the voting “X” of millions of voters.

And yet, from the perspective of an outsider, inexplicably and clearly irrationally glued to the many screens, there is an underlying dynamic driving the United States of  America that, unless fully undressed, laid bare, declared anathema for the last time, grieved, mourned and then cast overboard, will continue to haunt the nation, and by proliferation, much of the world. That dynamic is paranoid patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and the venal seed of  “intimidation” at its core.

For decades, it has been clear that how one perceives the male, both ideal and less so, has played a significant role in determining who occupies the Oval Office. In 2000, when advisers put Al Gore in a tan suit, as a way to soften his image as ‘preacher,’ in comparison with George W. Bush’s Texas swagger, something happened in my reporter’s gut that told me this was not a good sign for Gore, my clear choice for president. In 2004, when Kerry was pilloried in the swift-boat ads, once again the Republicans strutted their capacity, willingness and surgical precision to ‘go for the jugular’ of the Viet Nam vet and eventual war protester. Even in the midst of the Iraq war, yet still not recovered from the devastation of 9/11, Bush was victorious. And then came Obama, the Roman Candle of prophetic promise, the first black candidate with so much charm, charisma, intellect, grace and an almost mythical aura and after John McCain defended his integrity, authenticity and legitimacy in the face of a racist Muslim charge, he triumphed over the former prisoner of war. The over-reach by the McCain camp in selecting Palin contributed negatively to his demise at the ballot box.

In 2012, when Obama faced Romney, and outed his recorded embarrassment at a fund raiser, there was a tension between the masculinity/power/ of the corporate elite against the intellectual elite on the heels of an economic recovery on the horizon, following the 2008 collapse. However power is perceived by the people is an integral, if highly subjective and amorphous component, of the eventual outcome of the presidential race. Whether that ‘power’ is deemed to be strong enough to stand on the world stage in the face of world leaders, both allies and enemies, is more than a minimal determinant of the result. And should one candidate actually ‘score’ a lethal blow on the opponent, in the eyes of the people, as if the race were a re-enactment of the traditional western movie, his poll numbers almost invariable rise. That blow might come from an especially pungent ad, or from a debate line that stops the opponent in his tracks. The candidate who both “wears” the uniform of power in a manner than is congruent with the expectations, needs, aspirations and fears of the majority of voters and expresses and incarnates both the image and the words and the projected promise and hope of the people has an edge in the campaign.

The race for the White House is the apocryphal epitome of how power is envisioned, how power is about to be deployed and how that power is to serve, ironically and paradoxically, as a surrogate for the profound feelings of powerlessness of the majority of people. Naturally, this symbol of power, especially in a culture that is personality-addicted, star-gazed, gossip-driven, and even if merely cardboard-cut-out sketched, takes on to a large degree both the aspirations and the fears of the people.

Projection of both the ideals and worst fears of the mass of people are, of course, the stuff of attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that pull levers, mark ballots, write cheques and staff phone banks for candidates. And projections are, by definition, unconscious, rendering the whole process much more than is ever depicted by the empirical data in which the national media tread water.

After seven decades of working for, beside, among, and sometimes with various male teachers, coaches, principals, bosses, CEO’s, bishops and archbishops, it is clear that the quality, the resilience, the androgyny and the sheer confidence and spine of the male leaders, and thereby their respective organizations, have been and continue to be in a struggle to either replace or to find for the first time their individual spine.

Males, over the last half century, in families, schools, churches, colleges and especially in corporations including the military, the justice system, and the medical profession have demonstrated a missing and balancing trait. Call it spine, or call it courage, or call it confidence, or call it equanimity. And we/they have built their little empires on the quick-sand of their paranoia. Of course, the degree and depth of this paranoia varies significantly. Yet the most significant aspect of its ubiquity is its denial by the very men whose deportment, attitudes and beliefs reveal it.

While the culture of the education edifice has tended to integrate both men and women, at least in the classroom, to a far higher degree than in many sectors, the culture of the military, the church and the corporation is so tilted in the direction of paranoid patriarchy as to justify the formal charge from a Canadian writer and law professor. Resurfacing in the website, The Ink (September 22, 2020), the website authored by Anand Girdharadas, Joel Bakan, author of the previously famous book and documentary entitled The Corporation, in which he called big business psychopathic, Bakan has resurfaced with The New Corporation  in which he argues that the psychopaths have learned fraudulent kindness.

Picking up on a story from a woman attending a book signing, Girdharadas heard her words: What you are describing in your book-these moves by corporations to hurt society while making show of doing good—this is what abusive men do. They hurt you while telling you they love you. I know this because I survived one.

He then recalled those words, upon learning of Bakan’s latest project. His website pays tribute to Bakan in these words:

(Joel Bakan) has reported a sweeping story of how corporations began to recognize  their reputation as abusers and began to hug their communities tighter while hurting them more and more. The hugs enabled the hurt. The promises that things would be different helped keep things the same.

The excerpt from the Bakan project on The Ink website focuses on the huge sums of money being spent on an industry that teaches corporations how to deal with the first signs of discontent among workers, in order to ward off any and all initiatives that might lead to worker organization, especially unions. In addition, it details the development of highly sophisticated technology that monitors every move of every worker, in a determined thrust to get more work out of every worker with, even chiding them for going too slowly. Corporations have even generated computer games in which each worker is placed in competition with his/her co-workers, on a screen displayed in a supervisor’s office. They have also installed vending machines with individual packets of pain killers on the workplace floor, so that workers can continue to work, while in pain.

Patriarchic paranoia is such a radio-active component of the North American culture, and is so embedded in the very ‘soil’ of that culture, that given the public discourse about all things visible, measurable, empirically verifiable, including poll numbers, profit and loss statements, share prices, class sizes, parish sizes and collection plate numbers, sales data, views and likes on any webpage, it is little wonder that it is rarely mentioned in polite company. There are other reasons for its meager exposure. The power structure is dominated by male figures, not only in  numbers of persons, and in size of incomes for the same work, but so are the premises on which the culture operates.

These observations, while exposed in Bakan’s The New Corporation, have been carpeting the television and phone screens in epic proportions since the day trump slid down that escalator to announce his candidacy. One can reasonably assume a similar parallel culture in which he operated his business venture bore the same signature of paranoia, mistreatment of workers, tenants, potential purchasers, investors, and casino patrons. All the while seducing the customer with the promise of care, trump has become the master of not the deal, as he would have us believe, but rather the “seduction”. And there are millions of Americans, polls put their numbers as high as 40%, who have been steeped in the koolaid of this highly patriarchal, yet also profoundly paranoid, masculinity.

Promises that vastly exceed delivery, character assassinations that trumpet pugilistic muscle, pronouncements that prophesy premature end of COVID-19, and the warped-speed delivery of vaccinations, the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and ingesting bleach, encasing children in cages, trumpeting violence while masquerading as the law and order candidate…the litany will be the subject of doctoral theses for decades…all of this as evidence of an empty, frightened, paranoid man the worst representative of masculinity to have sat in the Oval Office.

And yet the travesty of this paranoid patriarchy is not confined to the Oval Office. Like COVID-19 itself, it spreads itself through masks, meetings, phone calls, video conferences, over dinners and drinks, across social media and into the stock markets, the corporate board rooms, and into the ecclesial offices of priests, bishops. It is not detectible by any known instruments to science, including even the most advanced technologies tracking the movements, and even the emotions of corporate workers. It is not measurable on the radar screens of aircraft controllers, nor on the MIR machines in the most advanced hospitals, nor through their CAT-scans. There is no therapeutic that mediates its influence, especially among cells of men that congregate around the images and the personages of power. There is no research project that is dedicated to producing immunity to its ravages, and there is little hope that the millions of men currently imprisoned in its leg-irons will even search for a key to unlock their own encasement.


The NRA while not totally funded by paranoid patriarchs, nevertheless, has a preponderance of paranoid patriarchs at its head as does the current Department of Justice, led, tragically, by one of the more surprising cultists. Clearly, the Department of Health and Human Services has fallen prey to the overt and covert seduction, as has the COVID-19 task force, along with the Republic male Senators who will confirm their hallowed leader’s nomination for the Supreme Court. According to the latest revelations from the inside of the Mueller Report, that group of investigators too fall victim to the self-imposed emasculation in failing to probe trump’s tax returns and to subpoena the ‘great man’ himself, in order to fully declare his obstruction of justice.

Self-emasculation, among males, is merely the opposite side of the same coin that carries the stench of the macho, narcissistic alpha male. And the emasculated men are themselves, like many women, victims of the paranoid patriarchy. They have become frightened that they will be exposed as wimps but those very men who are themselves, addicted to the masking of their own paranoia with bravado. And they give in to both the radical feminists and the paranoid patriarchs.

 “Real Women,”  are those evangelical Christians whose subservience to men is biblically based in their literal interpretation of scripture and who cheer-lead their patriarchs blind to the paranoia that infects their male identity. Radical feminists, on the other hand, so frighten many already emasculated men in positions of authority and responsibility that they can and do demand a kind of absolute, zero-tolerance set of rules and regulations as their way of securing the personal safety and sanctity of their sisters and their professional reputations and careers. Relationships between men and women, in all formal and informal organizations, at the individual level, take both parties to exist. And for the notion that inevitably and predictably, in each case in which a complaint is filed, the male is the perpetrator, without full investigation, is unconscionable. And too many men, whether emasculated or pontifical or more likely both, want to escape any messiness that would attend any investigation. Shame, embarrassment, public scorn and contempt is one of the primary, if not the sole, avoidance of paranoid patriarchs. And that shame can be either or both personal or organizational.

It would be unfair to the paranoid patriarchy to divide the emasculated from the pontifical given that each trait depends, darkly and sadly, on the other side of the coin. Domination as exhibited by men like trump only masks deep and abiding insecurity and fear, while emasculation prefers a more ‘contrite’ and potentially even more seductive an approach to the world, to their careers and to the women in their lives.

Only if and when men come to full acknowledgement of their/our fear, insecurities, and yes even paranoia, will they/we open to the gift of authenticity that needs no bravado, dissembling, false promises, and suffocating sycophancy. Nor with they/we depend on a mask of emasculation as our way of saying we are not like those others who currently govern the United States. Authentic masculinity, without doubt, is definitely on the ballot on November 3 and the world is watching.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Reconnoitering with soul

Searching for the “sacred” including the notion of the ‘divine’ within each person, is much more complex than an archeological ‘dig’ into the relationship between  humans and a/the deity.

Karen Armstrong writes: (N)early all the scriptures present us with the final product---the human being who has achieved the transformative and become divine. These people have not been possessed by an alien force; rather they have aligned their lives fully with the ultimate something that pervades all things. The scriptures insist that this is not the attainment of a few exceptional people but is possible for anybody, even the man in the street, because you cannot think ‘human’ without also thinking divine. In some traditions, divinity is presented as a third dimension of humanity, that mysterious element that we encounter within our selves and in others that constantly eludes our grasp.(Karen Armstrong, The Lost art of Scripture, Rescuing the Sacred Texts, Knopf, 2019, p. 13-14)

Even the word “sacred” in the title of her latest work, ‘something related to religion or something treated with great respect (such as holy water, or a prized collection. And yet, ‘sacred’ is not a synonym for religious. The notion that life is ‘sacred’ is a phrase fraught with both personal meaning and ideological/political implications. It infuses every debate over the question of the state’s legal right to permit a woman to choose to have an abortion. The pro-life, versus the pro-choice sides are so vehemently divided that in the U.S. the survival of Roe v Wade hangs in the balance, not that a vacant seat on the Supreme Court has emerged, on the death of Madame Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And we all know that all of the various and multiple political arrows will be deployed by both sides, to implore Senators to confirm a ‘pro-life’ or a ‘pro-choice’ replacement on the bench.

The battle, regardless of its timing, duration and outcome will, undoubtedly and paradoxically, disclose such venomous contempt for the other side, that a visitor from space would wonder about the contradiction between the ‘value’ and the steps to which some will go to achieve their desired/even required outcome. What shoots up in any consideration of the concept/notion/application of ‘sacred’ and holy is also the question of capital punishment for criminal offenders. Some who fight strenuously for the pro-life side of the argument also fight for the re-instatement of capital punishment, (abolished in Canada in 1976 and from the National Defence Act in 1998, and currently operative in some 28 U.S. states, abolished by New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011, Connecticut in 2012, Maryland in 2013 New Hampshire in 2019 and Colorado in 2020.)

Attempting to render an act or a place as “sacred” is a process deeply revered by ecclesial authorities, historians, theologians, and liturgists. The imprimatur or blessing or consecration by words, in the name of God, is also deeply embedded in the ecclesial life of many faith communities. And the intimate and complex connection between sacred texts and their liturgical commemoration redounds in many faith communities. Chanting scripture, repeating scripture, praying scripture, singing holy word and writ are all processes by which many faith communities learn the belief systems of their people, inculcate those beliefs into their ritual lives, and pass those traditional sounds and meanings, transforming them into outright meaning and purpose for many. Especially are these liturgical experiences dedicated to such significant human events as birth, baptism, bar and bat mitzvah, confirmation, marriage, and death. Ceremonial state events like coronations also fall into this liturgical experience, presumably as a way to ‘sanctify’ the moment, the person being crowned, and the memory in the participants.

To sanctify, or to declare holy, to consecrate is an act that can apply to a process (baptism or marriage for example) or to an event/substance like the water used in baptism.

And along with all of the many instances in which the words and the concepts are used, (a frequency dropping like a stone in the lake), there is little if any real conversation, discussion, contemplation or conscious awareness of when and how the sacred appear in contemporary western life. Formerly religious ceremonies while still being observed in many families, often morph into perfunctory social, political and even transactional events. Or, perhaps, from a different perspective, the faith/sacred aspect of many of these ceremonies is embedded in the connectivity among and between the participants and the congregants.

History is filled with ink poured over the reflections of those who consider deity a noun and those who consider deity a process, or a place, or a condition or a relationship. And how we individually and collectively conceptualize God plays a significant role in our personal and communal notion of how any relationship between our lives and God might evolve.

The phrase ‘imago dei’ (The Image of God) is a concept and a theological doctrine in Judaism, Christianity, and Sufism of Islam, that states that human beings are creatae4d in the image and likeness of God. The Hippocratic Oath, taken by all medical doctors, implores them to “do not harm” in a direct application to the notion of imago dei. However, the concept has few if any other sociological, legal, historic, and especially ethical applications in contemporary culture, outside of the sphere of bioethics.

From a theological perspective, do we have within us a spark of the divine? Or, does imago dei pertain more to the theological notion that God cares for humans in a manner emblematic of and incarnating an identical/empathic relationship? And, overlaying the different noun or verb (or both) characterization of God, in an evolving, changing, developing, and potentially transforming dynamic, how can/do/will/ humans enter into any meaningful relationship with the sacred?

When we experience a “sacrament” (baptism, confirmation, marriage, Eucharist.,  the last rights, penitential, funeral, do we think about what the meaning of that moment might be? Considered as an moment in which something we call divine grace is being imparted, do recipients think of these moments in this way? And if they do, what does that mean?

If grace is undeserved mercy from God, does our view of life include a perception, never mind a belief, that we have been given grace? We hear often the cliché, “there but the grace of God go I” when commenting on the fall “from grace” of an individual who has ‘sinned’ in the eyes of an institution, or the socially accepted behaviour of an honourable and respectable human, or more fatefully, one who has crossed the boundaries of the law, in the west itself founded on biblical writ. So somewhere, somehow, the concept/consciousness of grace lingers in the back of our minds and hearts, as a kind of ‘good luck charm’ that keeps us from veering into a ditch in our lives.

Do we consider a moment of sacrament akin to, or an actual incarnation of, a moment of grace? And if so, what is the import of such moments in our perception and evaluation of its import in our lives?

The phrase, aligning with the “ultimate something that pervades all things” has the potential to ignite sparks of intellect, of reflection and certainly of belief, in all cultures. Is there an “ultimate that pervades all things”? Are we attempting, whether consciously or unconsciously or both, to align our lives with that ultimate something? And if there is an “ultimate something” is it another way of ‘seeing’ and of envisioning, and of imagining and even of believing in a God?

And if there is an “ultimate something that pervades all things” and we are aware, both consciously and unconsciously of that “ultimate” does our life begin in alignment with that ultimate something? OR, have we “fallen” out of grace, through our “ancestors” Adam and Eve? OR was the Story of the Garden of Eden a metaphor for coming to mature consciousness about the difference between good and evil for which we are grateful and which we can celebrate in gratitude?

So many questions, not desperately begging for answers, but rather prompting more, especially after pausing to reflect on how our view of our selves, in the universe, seems to offer signposts, events, persons, poetry, music and encounters with nature….

Naturally, our pursuit of what we consider to be true is implicit in each of our reflections, and how we come to the truth, and whether that truth must be denotative, connotative, literal, metaphoric, archetypal, or symbolic or some combination of all of these will play a significant role in our notion of truth.

As we are all engaged in a process of attempting to “get to know” ourselves, to a greater or lesser degree, through our pursuit of goals, through our accomplishments and resulting from our mis-steps, indiscretions, mis-deeds, and failures, nothing remains static in any of our lives. We are all part of the nunc fluens (the flowing now) with sensibilities, and intellect, a heart, and an operative will. We make choices, depending on our perception of what is our need to grow and evolve and shed those aspects of our person we feel need discarding. And the question of “power” invades every single decision we make.

Rational thought, based on empirical evidence, has played a monumental role in the determination of millions of lives, whereas, right brain intuition, emotion, imagination have all undergone a kind of relegation to the sidelines, especially in the last century. Although it may now be considered a ‘dated’ and thereby outmoded text, having been published in the mid-nineties (1994 to be specific) Thomas More’s Care of the Soul remains instructive in discerning what warrant consideration of the differences between our ego/will and our soul. Defined in several sources as the principle of life, feeling , thought, and action in humans, the spiritual aspect of humans, the emotional or intellectual energy or intensity especially in a work of art, distinguishing soul from ego and will, might offer a glimpse into a transformative pathway to help to align our life with that “ultimate something that pervades all things”.

More writes:

In the soul, power doesn’t work the same way as it does in the ego and will. When we want to accomplish something egotistically, we gather our strength, develop a strategy, and apply every effort. This is the kind of behaviour James Hillman describes as heroic of Herculean. He means the word in the bad sense: using brute strength and narrow rationalistic vision. The power of soul, in contrast, is more like a great reservoir or, in traditional imagery, like the force of water in a fast-rushing river. It is natural, not manipulated, and stems from an unknown source. Our role with this kind of power is to be an attentive observer noticing how the soul wants to thrust itself into life. It is also our task to find artful means of articulating and structuring that power, taking full responsibility for it, but trusting too that the soul has intentions and necessities that we may understand only partially.

Neither ego-centred will on the one hand nor pure passivity on the other serve the soul. Soul work requires both much reflection and also hard work. Think of all the ancient cultures that poured masses of money, materials, and energy into pyramids, megaliths, temples, and cathedrals on behalf of sacred play or holy imagination.  The trick is to find the soulful perspective that feeds action with both passion and imaginal contemplation.

I am reminded here of Jung’s constant attempt in both his theory and in his own life to discover the ‘transcendent function,’ as he called it, a point of view that embraces the mysterious depths of the soul as well as conscious understanding and intention. This for Jung, was exactly what self means: it is a fulcrum of action and intelligence that feels the weight both of the soul and of the intellect. This is not a mere theoretical construct. IT can be, as Jung showed in his own soul work, a way of life. The power that comes form this relocation of the source of action has profound roots and is not destruct6ively caught up in narcissistic motives. The Tao Te Ching (30) says, ‘The good general achieves his result and that’s all; he does not use the occasion to seize strength from it.’ Tapping the soul’s power has nothing to do with the need to fill gaps in the ego or to substitute lamely for its loss of power.

What is the source of this soul power, and how can we tap into it? I believe it often comes from unexpected places. It comes first of all from living close to the heart, and not at odds with it. Therefore, paradoxically, soul power may emerge from failure. Depression, and loss., The general rule is that soul appears in the gaps and holes of experiencer. It is usually tempting to find some subtle way of denying these holes or distancing ourselves from them. But we have all experienced moments when we’ve lost a job, or endured an illness only to find an unexpected inner strength….

(Another path to discovering soul might come from an emptying out of our public identity)

More continues: Maybe we could all use an emptying out of identity now and then. Considering who we are not, we may find the surprising revelation of who we are. Again, the Tao Te Ching (ch. 22), that absolute testament of soulful emptiness, says, in words that echo saying of Jesus, ‘When twisted, you’ll be upright; when hollowed out, you’ll be full.’

Soulful emptiness is not anxious. If fact power pours in when we sustain the feeling of emptiness and withstand temptations to fill it prematurely. We have to contain the void. Too often we lose this pregnant emptiness by reaching for substitutes for power. A tolerance of weakness, you might say, is a prerequisite for the discovery of power, for any exercise of strength motivated by an avoidance of weakness is not genuine power. This is a rule of thumb. The soul has not room in which to present itself if we continually fill all gaps with bogus activities…….(Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul, 1992, p. 119-120)

Wonder how many executives, legislators, bishops, priests, and influencers are familiar with the paradoxical notion of the power of the soul? We seem enmeshed with the empirical ‘growth’ of our incomes, our sales and revenues, our office size and our titles, not to mention the ‘value’ of our investment portfolio. Are we consciously and willfully blind to the power of the soul, and to the implications that balancing our ego and will with its much more subtle, intricate, imaginative and ambiguous stimuli and utterances? And if so, are we paying an exorbitant price individually and collectively for our blindness? 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Reflections on Charity and Sovereignty

Two issues jump out of yesterday’s ‘dig’ for the divine amid the terror:

First, the searing and penetrating truth that charity brings gifts that are unimaginable, yes to the receiver, but even more importantly to the donor.

Second, the almost inconceivable hurdle, threshold and even chasm for nations, and especially politicians to “surrender sovereignty” as if each place and person was inviolable, sacred and carved in the marble of history and tradition.

Driving through the streets of Kingston Ontario, one reads glued to the concrete abutments that provide outdoor patios for struggling restaurants, two words, in both English and French: “Love Kingston” and “Amor Kingston.” Our pop culture is flooded with songs, greeting-card-dramas (think Hallmark movies), and even dark psychological thrillers that revolve somehow around the notion of human’s pulsing need for, search for, failure in, depression from, dreams of and ultimately attempting to find purpose in and through love. We ‘love’ our favourite shows, our pets, our treasured memories, this or that doctor, teacher, dentist, neighbour and especially the half-dozen people with whom we were actually in some kind of relationship that had the promise and the scent of enduring. We ‘love’ our parents, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, our grandparents…even if those individuals remain unknown because of their death, absence or distance or even those few whose early treatment of us was less than supportive.

We also celebrate those acts of “love” that rescue us from a burning home in the middle of the night, or from a terrifying tornado, or those who, in the tradition of the Good Samaritan, attend to the injured and dying in a traffic accident, or a mass shooting.  Recently, owing to the empty emotional bank account of the current occupant of the Oval Office, devoid as it is of empathy, compassion, and even the bare minimum of sympathy, we are giving more attention to the Democratic candidate’s perceived and authentic reservoir of empathy, given the many personal and family tragedies that he has had to endure over his nearly eight decades. Each time he reaches out to an individual in real pain, we celebrate the moment, starving as we all are for connection, for being seen and known, after months of isolation.

We humans simply crave being known, understood, appreciated and celebrated, and we also crave the opportunity, too often denied through reservations of many  kinds, to express our deep appreciation, through growing insight and consciousness, of the other. Whether for each of us, these moments of “caring” and “compassion” and “empathy” are acts promoted by a faith base, or merely as a transactional exchange, or also from an emotional intelligence perspective that acknowledges the benefits of reciprocity in human relationships, there is  at least a hint of what we call “humanity” in the moments.

And if we pause to reflect after such moments, we will feel something akin to poetic ‘warm glow’ regardless of whether we were the donor or the recipient. Something memorable has just happened; and when that kind of moment seems missing or rare, in the public square, we are perhaps unconsciously even more sensitive and responsive to them when they happen to us. What is perversely common, however, is that many times such moments are pooh-poohed as “frivolous” or “embarrassing” or “too feminine” or “unmasculine”….when we all know that both men and women need and deserve them in abundance, regardless of our age or other identifying traits.

And in our hell-bent drive for objectivity, distance, and ‘professionalism’ in all of our daily business, we have willingly and overtly or unconsciously, stripped much of our human discourse of these moments. While we legitimately wish to avoid cheapening them either through frequency or superficiality, it can be argued that we may have thrown ‘this baby out with the bathwater’ of conventional, corporate, professionalism. In their place, too often, I hear superficial and throw-away comments about ‘how nice’ someone looks, when the encounter is primarily, if not wholly, transactional.

Another sphere from which any genuine compassion, empathy, and expressions of charity have all been eradicated, is the field of diplomacy, geopolitical dialogue, given that, with ‘friends’ there is little to no need, and with enemies, to go ‘soft’ can and likely will be considered as “weak”.

So here is the point at which charity and sovereignty intersect. If a nation suffers a lethal blow from a tsunami or a volcano, a hurricane or a storm surge, agencies like the Red Cross and Red Crescent, funded primarily by private money, come to the rescue. UNICEF, and the International Rescue Committee, CARE,Caritas Internationale,  Doctors Without Borders, Food for the Hungry, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision are a few of the relief agencies to which thousands contribute and from which thousand more benefit. What seems so ironic, if not outright self-sabotaging, however, is that many of these relief agencies would not be so essential if the world powers were to come together to discuss and to commit to a few, if only modest at the beginning, commitments to give up some long-cherished sovereignty as an act of charity on behalf of the whole of humanity.

Naturally, many will argue that nations are not in the business of charity, compassion, empathy or even respect for other nations, other ethnicities, other linguistic and cultural communities. They are in the business of “providing for” and “protecting” their people, as their public and propagandistic utterances declare. We have deployed the instruments, processes and language of law as our primary path to enter into and to generate specific concords between and among nations. And in so doing, we have by default, established very low bars, for participating nations to meet in order to establish what has come to be known as the system of world order, following World War II. Not incidentally, the Marshall Plan, while settled in official documents, looms as an historic light beam of charity, enabling the restoration of the German society. So, the precedent is not unavailable to the current and future leaders of the world’s nations, from which to draw both inspiration and courage.


While George W. Bush is known and remembered, sadly, primarily for his
Iraq War, his administration also participated in one of the world’s most charitable initiatives addressing the AIDS epidemic in Africa. USAID has, until, trump, also provided millions of foreign aid, to developing countries, as part of the spread of democracy and the liberation of people seeking human rights. China, for her part, is currently embarked on a massive infrastructure program in Africa, as their transactional approach to enhanced hegemony. However, such modest yet worthy patterns of rich nations, (primarily responsible for carbon emissions) helping developing nations with environmental protection have to be expanded.

When assessing the world’s ‘contribution’ (blame) for the environmental threat, however, the inevitable “method” and process of assessing responsibility inevitable erects barriers to agreement. The foundational arguments upon which the United Nations was built, with a core of five nations with the veto, has demonstrated its own inadequacy and insufficiency.

A new approach is needed. And in order to begin a search for such a creative, effective and promising design, the world needs, now, and not some vague misty date sometime near the end of this century, a concurrence that enemies breath the same air, and drink from the same reservoirs, and plant seeds for food in the same soil as everyone else. Furthermore, all nations are engaged in industrial processes that can no longer be tolerated, by a global community already subject in some quarters to daily masks, because the air they are trying to breath is dangerous to their health.

We need another visionary like Ted Turner, whose imagination birthed CNN, to envision a new communication vehicle that will concentrate on the specific news about and the proposed solutions to the climate crisis. It may already exist in some podcast, or perhaps even a small network. However, it needs international funding, internationally trained and encultured reporters and editors, and an international board of directors committed to the protection of the natural world, including oceans and their species, forests and their species, deserts and their species, and cities and their multiple engines of pollutants and laboratories of new environmental science.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and others are providing leadership in pouring millions in the desperate plight of millions suffering from disease, hunger, homelessness and blocked access to education. And these initiatives are both worthy and needed. However, it is time for national governments to come to the realization, in both concept and in practice, that whatever natural catastrophe occurs in one corner of the globe impacts all other quarters and people. It is past time, for example, for the World Health Organization to be able (technically and legally and jurisdictionally) to provide not only guidance, but also mandates to governments around the world, using best medical and scientific knowledge and practice, to limit the spread of pandemic viruses. And for that to begin to develop, all nations, including the United States, will have to shift several billions from its defense budget to the health budget of the WHO, and also to assign some of its best public health brains to its staff and committees.

The surrender of sovereignty can no longer be considered a matter of diplomatic and geopolitical standing; it is now a matter of protecting the health of the citizens of each and every nation. Surrendering sovereignty, for the benefit of public health, on the surface, may seem a ridiculous trade-off. However, given the convergence of the many forces and influences that threaten national governance, public health, economic desperation and depression, and the ability of all living species, flora and fauna, to access needed air, water and food, the old world order has to be considered obsolete.

Far from condemning trump for his deliberate and odious destruction of the nation state of the United States, the world needs to condemn his administration for the havoc he is rendering to the people of the planet. This aspect of the current crisis, if it were to be experienced within a community, a corporation, a university, even a church, would have been driven out long ago. So, the first priority of a new way of seeing and of working with the whole world is for the world’s leaders to openly condemn the trump administration in as loud and as unanimous voice as can be garnered. Naturally, Putin, Duterte, Netanyahu and others will not join. Whether China would join or not is uncertain. Next, a council of world leaders, current and retired, political, corporate, scientific and ethical, could formally announce a conference to address, not the business of how to make more corporate profit, as is the case with Davos, but rather a new way of structuring the United Nations, including its capacities for supporting refugees, educating children, feeding the starving and for joining forces with the many philanthropics. Guaranteed annual  incomes, while worthy of individual nations’ support, could offer a model of shifting the relationship between government and the governed that signifies far greater acceptance of basic human needs and rights, and then bring into clear focus, how individuals can contribute to the economy that would be more equitable  and more altruistic.

We have to be frank about the need to start seeing ordinary people as “holy” and as sacred and as worthy, not only as a rhetorical talking point but as a credible and sustainable truth. And this perspective cannot be boundaried by national borders; it has to be a fact of life and belief and truth for all nations. And the process of such a transformational cultural perspective will require a commitment from all sectors of the many economies, ethnicities, languages and political ideologies that for too long have held power.

It is not only a question of civil rights, or gender rights, or inheritance rights, or religious rights, or the rights of those with the most wealth, however it has been acquired. We have to recognize that “flattening the curve” applies to each one of our shared issues, and demand that those who seek office commit to the proposition that there is no single human in any nation who can be left behind, ignored, devalued, denied an authentic education, access to quality health care, clean air and water, and adequate healthy food. And as part of flattening the curve, we have to come to the place where we are far less dependent on our hard power, our bombs and missiles, our AK47’s and our AR-15’s. We also have to come to the place where we know that if and when we tell our truth, those in power will start from the place that we are credible, that we know, as well as we can, what we are talking about. We also know the difference between being lied to and deceived by public officials and being told the hard truths.

It is no longer okay for us to watch our brothers and sisters protest in the streets, for a single, yet highly worthy and long overdue legitimate cause; our shared cause is the future of humanity, and the requisite steps that can and will offer credible and authentic hope that, together, will have already committed to the survival of the planet.

And such survival depends on each of us stepping up to the plate to consider acts of charity, and the surrender of our pride, hubris and neuroses, as acts not only of charity but as legitimate transformations to new life. And this model has application to the international forum, although those currently in the foreign affairs establishment, like all the other establishments, will need some time to reflect upon what it is they have to surrender.

The sacredness of each human has profound and lasting implications of a transformational nature for each of us and for the planet. And that sacredness is not the private domain of a single faith or a single person. It is a shared attribute, if only we can and will realize and incarnate it into our lives.