Responding to Violence with Love for All

In my position of privilege, I can write whatever I want about Ferguson, and I don’t risk losing a job, alienating people who can make my life miserable, or possibly even more imminent physical risks to my body. In this particular case I want to name, explicitly, that this piece is written for a white audience: I am offering one idea about what we, as white people, can do.

Why Personal Liberation Alone Won’t Be Enough

Many of us like to believe that individual transformation, if enough people engage in it, is enough. Others believe that if those in positions of power are reached, either through their own transformation or through mass nonviolent resistance, then change will take place. I don’t quite see how any of them will bring about structural change.

The Exacting Discipline of Choosing Based on Needs

I want to start with marveling at how far we are, collectively, from taking our needs seriously and making them a priority. Instead, we have been trained to view our needs as a sign of weakness or dependence, and as something bottomless that cannot be controlled.

The Canary as Leader

Although I couldn’t figure out how to move towards the kind of community I would most dearly want to have, with people living close by and being involved in each other’s lives, I did take one small step as the Shiva was winding down. I set up a weekly call with a small group of people who happened to be here at that time.

Loss, Empty Space, and Community

"The period of sitting Shiva, the Jewish custom of gathering community for seven days after someone dies, is over. I am now ready to slowly emerge into the next phase of my life, and writing about this period is a small step in that direction."

Leadership, Separation, and Vulnerability: Snippets

It is a myth that says only some of us can lead, and everyone else must only follow, not think for themselves, not participate in shaping a collective future, from the personal to the global. And yes, if everyone were this empowered, we would have to restructure our social and political arrangements, and that’s precisely what I believe is needed for our species to survive.

Does Everyone Want to Be Rich?

In China, as well as anywhere else I have been, I hungrily look for and lean into any evidence that I can find to support my deep and abiding faith that the desire to be rich is far from the only or primary motive that propels us to action.

When Relationships Work Easily

Is there anything we can do, either internally or with the other person, to shift a relationship into more ease and flow? I believe so, and I have identified a few elements that can help.

From Blame to Power

Essentially, any communication, especially about unmet needs, gets filtered through the lens of blame because this is our deep cultural habit: if someone is unhappy, someone is to blame. Blame, and how we respond to it, is both a symptom of inability to step into power, and an impediment, once present, to movement in the direction of empowered relationships.

Remarkable Conversations, Unexpected Outcomes

Have you ever been fired? Did you ever have an employer who listened deeply to the reasons why you wanted to continue in the job? This week Miki Kashtan tells a very personal story about how she tried to lay off a part time employee, who now says "You have my full permission to tell our incredible story.”

Israel, Palestine, Home, Me – Part II

I live in a country now [the US] that I believe doles out much more harm to the world than Israel ever has... Still, one can truly not know in the US, or one has to make a serious effort to know. Israel, by contrast, is agonizingly small, and the harm, whatever it is, is always so near, only a few kilometers away, visible.

Israel, Palestine, Home, Me Part I

I started crying at the closing circle when the person who created the spontaneous prayer said, while motioning to the Separation Wall visible from the window of the room we were sitting in, that it feels to him like the wall had disappeared while we were there together. I knew without any doubt that what we were doing was eminently possible on a much much larger scale.

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."