Why Do We Do What We Do?

When we are not aware of needs, we act based on our feelings, thoughts, habits, or impulse. In essence, each of these types of motivation can serve as a way to deny our responsibility for our choices.

Sex, Vulnerability, and Power

I often wonder what life was like in earlier cultures, before the split between the sexual and the spiritual was institutionalized, before the body became the site of sin, before being spiritual became associated with celibacy, asceticism, and withdrawal from the world.

What We Know and Don't Know

It seems to me that three things combine to make it so unlikely for people to become aware of and take personal responsibility for what is done in their name in this country...

Ego, Mind, and Culture

It took me some effort when I decided, some years ago, to deliberately free my language from the word “ego.” I did not want to use a concept so loaded with negative charge. I want my language to reflect my commitment to a different view of human nature instead of supporting the view that inside each of us there is a core part that must be transcended or suppressed in order

Money, Value, and Our Choices

When I look at it deeply, I really cannot understand, on the human plane, why I give the woman who cleans my house less money than the acupuncturist or naturopath who attend to my body... In effect, setting up the system in the way that it is means that some people’s needs are valued more than others.

Money, Needs, and Resources

My vision is of a world in which needs are routinely met, in which the experience of need satisfaction is the norm rather than the exception. Considering how far this vision is from what we mostly know in our modern world, the question of the possibility of meeting human needs takes on a great deal of significance.

Personal Change, Structural Change, and NVC

My question is about any attempt to create fundamental change using a model of change that focuses primarily on individuals changing their behavior or ideas.

Language, Meaning, and Consciousness Transformation

When I can choose to relate to people, I am exercising choice instead of habit or obligation. I want my choice to be based on care and respect for the other person at the same time as holding tenderly my own vulnerability and caring for my needs. When I am able to do that, then even the most faltering moments of confusion become opportunities for transformation.

The Saga of Writing About the Government Shutdown

There are three ways of dealing with difference: domination, compromise, and integration. By domination only one side gets what it wants; by compromise neither side gets what it wants; by integration we find a way by which both sides may get what they wish. —Mary Parker Follett

Gandhi, Trusteeship, and the Commons

It’s rare for me to cry while reading dense academic prose, and yet that happened to me when I started reading "The Wealth of the Commons." Something else is possible, because it once existed.

Gandhian Economics, Universal Well-Being, and Human Needs

Rather than an exhaustive introduction to Gandhian economics, which can be found through a search on the web, I chose, instead, to look more deeply at two core principles that resonate deeply with me and the path I am on with regards to thinking about money and the economy.

The Powerless Are Not Necessarily Pure

If powerlessness is associated with purity, then those without power are, by necessity, better in some sense. This absence of humility is one of the reasons I see for why when previously oppressed people come into power they often recreate what was done to them.

Dialogue, Decision-Making, and Mattering

I believe that one of the best kept secrets about the rewards of choosing interdependence is the wisdom and the richer freedom that are often unleashed through entering dialogue with others as a path to making decisions: together, in complete autonomy, honoring everyone affected.

Venturing into Risky Waters – Talking about Money

I dream of a world run on a gift economy basis. I see, vividly, the possibility of people self-governing, sharing resources locally and globally, attending to everyone’s needs in a collaborative way. The image of a flow of generosity replacing the world of exchange is a precious vision for me.

Can I?

Two passions of mine combine in wanting to take apart the meaning of "Can I?": my love of language, which includes the belief that words are never simply words; and my burning interest in transforming paradigms of power.

Personal Liberation and Personal Growth

Whenever I shift the language in my mind from personal growth to personal liberation I feel a difference, the very language freeing me from complicity with a system I believe to be ultimately destructive to all.

Being Powerful in the Moment

I suddenly understood what it means to be powerful in a new and different way that tied it to the present moment.

Intention and Effect

Miki's intentions weren't to oppress, but her black friend told her, a white woman, that that was the effect. "In earlier years I was still consumed by having my own innocence seen, and couldn't make sufficient room for absorbing and mourning the effects of my actions, regardless of my intentions."

Myths of Power-With: #6 Unilateral Choice: always Negative?

As every case of nonviolent resistance shows, those who find themselves unable to continue what they want to do experience those of us who lovingly stop them as exercising immense force and power-over, regardless of the love. Still, the love matters.

Exploring Authenticity

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the smooth fabric of human relationships that is sustained by the norms of social interactions—what it means to be nice or polite - is part of the mechanism that keeps systems of oppression in place.

Moral Dissonance

Moral tradeoffs are costly for the human soul, I believe, and I do see them as proliferating. The options available to us, collectively, are narrowing. We cannot play outside the increasing constraints created by the harsh conditions of the market and the restrictive policies of the government.

In Defense of Complexity

Discovering a fellow appreciator of complexity in China, Miki Kashtan discusses the complexities of Communism vs. Capitalism, and considers those of Zionism in Israel/Palestine and of race in the US in the aftermath of the "soul-crushing" Trayvon Martin / Zimmerman verdict.

Myths of Power-With: No 5 – Everyone’s Needs Are Equal

When you have power in a situation, such as facilitating a meeting, do you treat everyone strictly equally, or do you prioritize some people's needs over others? Do you give people who are often excluded, or those who may be having a harder time speaking up, more room to speak?

When Others Judge Us

When heavily criticized or judged do you fight back? Get overwhelmed with shame? Cut yourself off from your critic? There is another path, and it's worth developing the ability to choose it: the way of openness.

The Supreme Court in Action: A Painful Mixed Bag

Much as I am celebrating the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act my joy is truly overshadowed by the sense of defeat and mourning of the striking out of the core element of the Voting Rights Act.

Creating a Welcoming Community

How great it would be if we could all learn to speak in ways that can be heard, whomever we are speaking with.

My Leadership Challenges

It is remarkably hard to transform the paradigm of leadership from the authority-based model to the collaborative model - because of the ways we have all learned to act. Check out these notes from a collaborative leader still unlearning the ways of the conventional world.

Talking About Race

In a segregated society, white people can most often protect themselves from the discomfort of engaging with the structures and habits that support this separation. Black people simply cannot. This is one of the ways that privilege works: it allows those who have it to not notice it and its effects on others.

Saying “No” Across Power Differences

If a person in power can make it easy for those with less power to say “no,” many benefits can ensue. If your manager doesn't get that picture, you can still offer your “no” in a supportive way.

Myths of Power-With No 4: 
When Connection Trumps All

People who love to connect and empathize in small groups can have a hard time shifting gears when the same group needs to make decisions, take action or organize a nonprofit. Here are some ideas for how to hold both kinds of meetings.