Thursday, October 3, 2013

Putting first things first

On the notion of saving America by “bypassing Washington”

The seeming likemindedness, with New Horizons principles, of a recent online commentary lifted my spirits regarding our most recent political leadership chaos; the government shutdown.

And the winner is....?
Writes Eric Liu in Bypass Washington, save America”

“As Congress heads implacably toward another shutdown showdown, the fate of the federal government hangs in the balance. And America is yawning. Or, at least, not panicking. Why?

One reason is that we've all become inured to the utter dysfunction of Washington. But another is that Washington matters less every day. Even though the shenanigans of congressional Republicans make for a perfect negative civics lesson -- Don't do this in real life, kids -- in cities all across the country civic innovation is flowering, and everyday citizens are becoming newly empowered.

While our federal government has tied itself in partisan knots, cities are showing the way forward.”

While New Horizons would be unlikely, at this point, to get too excited about “cities,” still, the notion, as Gandhi, expressed it that unity and peace commence as we …

“…begin by carving out territories or zones of peace in our personal relations where violence and deceit won’t be used.”
… makes its point here.
Whether it be cities, towns, villages or relatively small local groups, such as civic, business, organization, neighborhood or faith entities, when practical solutions are sought by willing participants, under the arch of respected ethical principles (i.e. honesty, kindness, compassion, altruism etc.) sound resolutions are apt to be carried into practice with gratifying results.

Liu suggests …
“The localism of our time -- and you see it in how people eat, work, move, buy, sell, grow, share, create -- is a networked localism.”
This viewpoint aligns with some of New Horizons’ most important principles. (You see, now, I am enamored of this commentary piece.)
“Old” New Horizons’ participants learned from our community development mentor, Murat Yagan, that there are certain special conditions citizens heed that, generally, turn the “lead” of collective efforts into the “gold” that can be mined in and from them.  Our Possible Human, Possible Society Study is showing us that these are particularly available in small groups of people, as per Gandhi, willingly relying upon one another to collectively solve problems.
These prerequisites, when properly applied, can transform any ordinary community into an exceptional one. Even the dysfunctional ones can heal and transform. The internet and print media are abundant with personal interest stories that exemplify this. Mr. Liu’s commentary tells, refreshingly, of one such example.
The preconditions New Horizons strives to promote, based on our “old” New Horizons therapeutic community model, now interwoven with ancient Abkhazian traditions, as presented by Murat, expand and build upon the following:
1.       Complimentary values and principles among a given group of people as well as the individual members of it (i.e. likemindedness to some workable degree);

2.      Determination in both the individual and the group to consistently strive for these values and principles in all that they do;

3.      Effective leadership that, with group reciprocity, successfully guides individuals and the group, through snags to synergy,  in their endeavors to live by these values and principles.  
Again, I appreciate and am inspired by Liu’s report of success where he served as a trustee for Seattle’s public library.  He states --

“The best way to try is to try at home…. The best way to learn is to learn with others…. Even in this globalizing age -- or perhaps especially in such an age -- all citizenship is local.
Though I've worked at the highest levels in national politics, at the White House and in the Capitol, I never learned as much about democracy as I have in trying to make the libraries of Seattle work.”
At the highest order character development is mutually supported and reciprocated, as one of the key elements that will foster the forward motion. I cannot help but envision this at work in this story, and others, of collective efforts.
In this, “think global, act local” way, not at all like Washington, we see a means for solving the problems of citizens, putting first things first.           

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