We the People—Not We the Party
A Call for Political and Economic Justice
“We are our choices.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
I just want to talk about what I see, feel, and think. Our republic is led by those who have neither the skills nor the will to lead; either they are feckless, gutless or both. I say that because we have many perennial problems, affecting the majority of the more than three-hundred million American citizens, except for about two percent of the population, meaning those who have most of the wealth. So, what are some of those perennial problems?
We have created a culture of graft and greed. Graft is greed’s friend; they are mutually supporting. This creates inequality, poverty, illiteracy, and more. Here’s a quick example. It’s about a prominent discrepancy in the pay equity or fairness. There’s a CEO who makes $5,000,000 per week (that’s million); that $125,000 per hour. And I defy anyone to cite a metric that justifies such. Yet many who work in his company, earn less than $10 per hour; that’s a bit more than $20,000 per year; others earn less, thus not a livable wage. Furthermore, per the Congressional Budget Office, a huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top 0.1 percent, whose average pay is $27 million per household, per year. The average income for the bottom 90 percent is $31,244 per household per year; therefore, a humongous discrepancy in pay, and one may say an excess or glut.
Another unending problem is that some 67% of corporations do not pay taxes. Yet our U. S. coffers are empty. The Economic Populist, Robert Oak, says,
“…America is broke and multinational corporations continue to blood suck the United States dry. …. The pattern becomes clear; U.S. Multinational corporations are out to not pay taxes, come hell or high water.”
This is supported by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations who held a meeting on “Offshore Profit Shifting and the U. S. Tax Code,” who asked: “Did you know U. S. Multinational Corporations have more than $1.7 trillion in untaxed profits stashed as undistributed foreign earnings and keep at least 60% of their cash overseas?” Would someone please tell me why that is legal?
Now, what do these discrepancies portend for broke America? Though the list of unfortunate results is relatively endless, let me offer a few: since U. S. coffers are empty, there will be fewer services: fewer police officers, resulting in less citizen security; less money for the poverty-stricken, especially children; fewer teachers resulting in less education for American children. America cannot afford not to educate its citizens. No wonder we have 44 million adults who cannot read these words: cannot read, period. Plus, some 90 million who are functionally illiterate; meaning, they are unable to read and understand between the fourth and eighth grades. Another shocking statistic is that only about 26% of Americans have a four-year college degree. That in itself is astounding. Though there are many more perennial problems, I think you get the picture of where we stand. So, what does “We the people”—not, “We the Party” have to do with these and other sorts of issues?
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them”
― Denis Waitley
I often think about our choices. For most of my life I have immersed myself in facilitating the development of leaders and leadership via the classroom, training room, presentation halls, and living rooms. Realizing that I don’t have the power to change someone, I recognize many of us crave societal change. So how do we capture that energy? How do we support a group’s creativity, a People’s creativity toward choice-creation? I believe we can do it through “Choice-Creation.”
What choices should we make? Or, should I say what choices ought we make and what questions do we ask? I believe Brandon October, a South African vocalist who says it best: “The choices we make, determine our destiny.” We the people—not we the party, must create a different conversation: a choice-creating conversation. One way I have learned to do this is by using a strategy called Dynamic Facilitation, an effective yet different way of holding creative space for a group, opening up thinking, leading to a powerful level of creativity. In the process of shifting our thinking, we shift our consciousness, our conversation, says Rosa Zubizarreta, an experienced and seasoned Dynamic Facilitator. This process is about literally noticing what is alive in the room, listening to what participants have to say, drawing them out, by encouraging them to “say more.” To paraphrase Zubizarretas, “it is not about taking sides; it’s about “taking ALL sides.” This leads to self-organizing without regard to political party; thus: We the People, not, We the Party.
Mind you, this is not brainstorming. I liken it to organized chaos or self-organizing where the Dynamic Facilitator helps create a “whole landscape” of an issue, be it pay inequity, tax inequity, or school desegregation. Participants’ contributions may be understood by the following categories in this process of Dynamic Facilitation (Zubizaretta, 2012, p. 20):
Problem statements—Examples: how do we fix pay inequity? How do we amend the tax code, making it fair for all, including corporations? When it comes to compensation, how do we bring about economic justice? There is a culture of greed.
Solutions—or creative contributions from participants, examples: Totally revamp the American compensation system. Critically examine the worth of different jobs from different occupations. Think economic justice. Take the greedy to task in front of the community where they work and in front of their workforce.
Concerns—Examples: the rich will never agree to a revamped compensation system; or, the corporations will not endorse it. People aren’t educated enough to warrant more pay, Greed is here to stay.
Data—this category involves beliefs or perceptions about pay equity in this example; or a complaint about what works and what doesn’t; and statements about what participants believe. It may also include statistical information.
Ask yourself, how it would be to have few to no rules of engagement where your feelings of passion and peril are not only welcomed; they are needed. Where emotions are necessary to create the most salient choice, where what you say is recorded and becomes part of the group’s story, where you are not in a cue, where power is leveled to experience synergy; it is that synergy of mind and interest that weaves the room into a place it never expected to be.
Whereas this process is not a panacea, it has the potential to change our thinking regarding our issues, potential solutions, and possibly our worldview. I believe it will lead to choice-creating, away that we the people can not only get back in the game, but create a different game. And it is party-free: We the People—Not We the Party.
Since I cannot do justice to the Dynamic Facilitation process in this blog, please visit: http://wisedemocracy.org/; or http://tobe.net/ ; or http://www.societysbreakthrough.com/SBChapter5.pdf; or http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-dynamicfacilitation.html. You will see how this process is used in creating a different conversation of “we the people—not we the party,” potentially leading to both political and economic justice. Stay tuned for Part II.