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Creating an America That Works


The Essays of Brother Anonymous
Spiritual Essays

Original Content at xxx November 29, 2008

In 1980, Werner Erhard, a man I regard as extremely prescient, said:

“We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family.

“We can choose to make our love for the world be what our lives are really about.

“Each of us now has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. …

“It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet.” (Werner Erhard, Graduate Review, February 1980.)

I am convinced that Werner was absolutely right and that it lies within our power to create a world that works for all of us – and, what is more to the point, an America that works for all of us.

Faced with a crisis of the proportions of the one that is sweeping America right now, we might be too fazed to see the opportunity it presents to us. Old structures are falling. The dead hand of a corrupt ruling class is losing its grip on us. Economic policies based on greed and corruption are proving themselves bankrupt.

The fall of these unworkable institutions and policies presents us with an unparalleled opportunity.

We have the opportunity to build in their place a new and uncorrupted economy and society – a world that works for all of us, and not just a few of the rich and powerful – and right from the ground up.

To start the ball rolling, I’d like to discuss what I regard as six principles that underpin the creation of large-scale employment projects.

This article is meant to start a discussion, not to end it. Nothing I say here is intended to be conclusive, but just to start you thinking.

For me, the first principle of a modern “New Deal” is that, if we want to create jobs, all there is to do is to notice unworkability and turn it into workability.

If you’ve noticed, unworkability (that is, a problem) commands our attention. If a table is tipping, we notice it and attend to it. We may not have noticed the table as long as it worked.

If a computer file suddenly disappears from the screen, we begin to fuss with the computer. Until now we had been oblivious to the computer except as we used it.

Unworkability is readily and easily seen and becomes the matter which calls forth work from us.

Following this principle, we can provide endless jobs if we identify and then take on a system-wide condition of unworkability and fix or end it.

Hunger, homelessness, poverty, sickness, illiteracy, fuel shortages, water shortages … the list of system-wide problems can go on and on. Therefore there is no shortage of matters to work on. They are legion, just waiting for our attention.

The second principle is that value is a function of agreement. Things are valuable because we say they are valuable. Most things in our lives are not inherently valuable. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Why is this important? Because it reminds us that doing a certain thing, like ending hunger or homelessness, is valuable because we say it is. So we should give up the effort to justify our projects on the basis of whether or not something is inherently valuable, cut through the confusion, and simply see that value depends on our say-so. It is up to us to say what work is valuable.

Let me give an example here. There are thousands of nuclear missiles sitting in silos. Do they have any intrinsic value? No. They usually just sit there until someone test fires one into the Pacific.

We spend billions of dollars on a system intended never to be used and actually never used (I realize that some have been fired in anger and then neutralized and that this information has been kept from the public.)

These missiles, their silos, their instrumentation, and their personnel have value because we say they do. What we need to do is agree on what projects we want to tackle and not waste time arguing over whether they are inherently valuable.

Thus did Kennedy create putting a man on the moon. Thus could we create projects to end pandemics, control the weather benevolently, turn animal waste into methane, create a car that runs on water, and so on.

The third principle is that alignment requires deadlines. Kennedy did not say we shall put a man on the moon “someday.” If he had, we could probably not have rallied a nation behind the project, raised the money, and created the organization that could accomplish the task.

He said we will do it by the end of the decade (the Sixties) and we organized ourselves and did it sooner than that.

Deadlines allow for society-wide alignment on and coordination of a large-scale project. Let us end homelessness in America by 2010. Let us end hunger in America by 2011. And so on.

The fourth principle is that only context-wide or system-wide solutions are ultimately workable. If we approach a problem at less than an overarching manner, we will simply create another problem. Win/lose, bandage, and ad hoc solutions approach a problem at less than a system-wide level. They may solve a problem for some but they will not dissolve a problem for all - and certainly not problems such as those we are facing today.

We have to aim for system-wide, win/win, complete solutions in a world that works for everyone if we want to avoid creating resistance, residue, and fresh problems.

The fifth principle is that paradigmatic breakthroughs come as a result of remaining with, rather than rejecting, dissonance. So often when confusion, paradox, or a clash of opposites arise, we lose heart and think that matters cannot succeed.

But all the really deep paradigmatic thinkers of history have known that remaining with the dissonance, embracing all sides of the problem, resting with the paradoxes, leads to paradigmatic breakthroughs.

The stories of the successes of Thomas Kuhn, Max Weber, and Benjamin Lee Whorf, three thinkers who created new paradigms in social science, rest on their ability to remain with dissonance until the distinction that transcended them arose.

So we, too, should not be discouraged by the rise of dissonance as we plan our large-scale employment projects in our modern “New Deal.”

The sixth principle involves using our critics in a productive way. If someone who knows about space materials criticizes what we are doing with our booster rockets, bring that person into the space design effort. If someone says how we are producing cars in America won’t work and can show us why, enlist that man or woman in the effort to produce a better car. Our critics are our teachers.

If you ask me for my opinion on how to put America back to work, Mr. President-elect, this is it.

Take the billions currently being poured down the drain and design large-scale employment projects based on these six principles.

Or, if you don’t wish to go that path, use your “bully pulpit” to ask private industry to take on the challenge of these projects and invest seed-grant money in the resulting enterprises.

Forget about the way government has worked until now. Government has not worked up to now. More of the same will not work either. We have to get off this train headed for disaster and lay new track.

More ideas. Let us have a car in mass production by this time next year (Nov. 28, 2009) that runs entirely on water. Two inventors have had working models running already. We need not be dependent on foreign oil at all. What are we waiting for?

The technology already exists to turn a wide range of industrial and agricultural wastes into oil. “Anything into Oil” it is called. Fund it. Encourage it. Target for every city over 50,000 people having a plant that converts all their waste by November 2010. Maximize employment in spreading this technology around.

Aim to see that all municipal waste that can be recovered for reuse such as metals, paper, and wood will be recovered by Sept. 2009 by electrical, magnetic, or mechanical sorting processes.

Still more? Come down off the fence and embrace the excellent universal healthcare model that your neighbour Canada operates so successfully. It’s time to drop the “isms.” Universal healthcare is not socialism. It is compassion; it is smart; it is economical.

We need to wake up from the trauma of the McCarthy years and realize that there are various areas of the economy where state participation works and various areas where it does not. State participation in universal healthcare works in Canada; why can it not work here? Let’s have universal healthcare by November 28, 2009.

If you still want more ideas, ask every community to suggest to you what is unworkable and needs taking care of. Let locals be the experts.

Enlist our youth. Create brain trusts. Create a new Peace Corps, a Sufficiency Corps, a Literacy Corps, a Housing Corps. Put America back to work rebuilding America.

Invite enlightened sages to assist you, like Werner Erhard, Eckhart Tolle, and Adyashanti. Enlist the leaders of all religions.

In the process, make apologies to Muslims who were made the scapegoats for a 9/11 which was entirely an inside job and had nothing to do with them.

We have scapegoated Muslims, made them objects of suspicion, and robbed them of their self-esteem, courage, and peace of mind for seven years.

Back to our modern “New Deal.” We think of FDR’s New Deal as being about building infrastructure like roads, bridges, levees. But it can be about anything that does not work and is a problem for society.

By turning its own unworkability into workability, America would be showing the world a new approach to community life. It could recover the moral leadership it has lost under the present regime. Its example could be its way of apologizing to a world whose economies it has more than once undermined and to which it has brought, overtly and covertly, wars of terrible destruction.xx This is do-able, Mr. President-elect. Your administration can do it. We can do it with you. We are here to serve you and America. Don’t ignore our outstretched hand.

Let’s make America work again - not for the sake of profit, power, and prestige, but for the sake of compassion, harmony, and unity.


The Essays of Brother Anonymous
Spiritual Essays