True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment

“A republic… if you can keep it…”

The work of building up to a better outcome has always already begun, before we have a chance to think about the work itself or its necessity.

The act of leading, then, is a recognition of the forces that are converging and a conscious understanding of how to work with them, when and to what purpose.

Having just arrived back from a journey to the heart of our democracy, I am again affirmed in the feeling that our democracy is deeply personal. And so, the success of our democracy depends on the intimate experience each participant has of the democratic process.

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Pope calls for Dialogue and Mutual Empowerment

In his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called America “a land of dreams”, which he said can lead the world in a shift to deep, inclusive politics and economics that brings people together, eliminates harm, and guarantees dignity and reciprocity. 

Pope Francis has come to the United States with a very clear and universal message: there are injustices no free and conscientious people can accept and against which all people of good will should work together. Challenges like climate change, immigration and income inequality are not ideological issues, partisan issues or issues of opinion or preference; they are deep moral issues. And we must do our best to work in solidarity, to oppose these unnecessary injustices.

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Respect is a Catalyst for Success

Politics is hard. Making policy that appeals to a wide range of political actors, stakeholders, and related interests, is by some people’s estimation functionally impossible. But at the heart of every legitimate political endeavor, there is the core insight that in its most expansive sense, what is of real interest to humanity anywhere is of real interest to humanity everywhere. We are connected by certain shared truths. We require certain sustenance to facilitate our survival, and we are all vulnerable to the forces of nature and of human violence. We have a transcendent, reciprocal interest in humane policy processes that protect life-giving systems. Working with people of all views and from around the world, on something as complex as climate, I have witnessed firsthand to what degree respect is the most effective strategy for building up the possibility of effective outcomes.

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Overcoming the Dissociation Crisis

A report on the Global Online Policy Forum: Solutions from Crisis, from the Pathway to Paris project…

Systems thinking views systems as already containing the expression of their own virtues and their own failings. A system cannot fail, unless the failure is made possible by some component of the system. In our use of energy, in contact with the Earth’s climate system, there is a flaw: our system is not designed to maintain a reliable climate-energy balance. So, we are pushing past the limits of the system, and motivating/encountering disruption. If we understand this, we can better see our limits, understand our strengths, and leverage the virtues of the system to achieve an outcome conducive to human thriving.

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When Citizens are Involved, Lawmakers Respond

The people have a right to co-create policy with our representatives.

Political analysts around the world have been noting the extreme negative tone of the 2014 midterm election campaign in the U.S. Outside groups that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on smears and innuendo are degrading the political debate. The ugliness of the campaign has exacerbated the bitterness many Americans feel toward the political process itself.

That bitterness tends to be connected to a feeling of detachment or of access denied. People believe they do not have access to their elected officials and that the parties do not respond to their day-to-day needs. This detachment is driven partly by the apparent inability of leading national political figures to work together, which leaves a great deal of important work unfinished.

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Gratitude for Your Citizenship

It is Thanksgiving Day, and I think a lot of us are having the experience of people perking up to what is of real value and giving thanks for people in their lives, even where there have been differences and frictions in the past. In a democratic society, with real freedom of expression, assembly and political engagement, we should all be thankful to anyone who speaks up. Even where we disagree with what is said, we are enriched and empowered by their exercising those basic freedoms.

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