Do you feel like howling in protest at the electoral system's failure to meet the challenges of our times? Whether it's the behavior or philosophy of one candidate or the other, the limits of the two party duopoly, the corrupting influence of big money, the possibility that our votes won't be accurately counted, or some other aspect of this absurd circus, reasons for feeling frustrated, anxious, angry and fearful abound.

Join us for a conversation where we discharge our difficult emotions and then think together about what might be possible to create an electoral system that works, as well as ways to move from being passive "consumers" of political leadership to active citizens co-creating our future.

We are beginning our inquiry here on the forum, and then continuing with our regular Monday Cafe Call on October 29:

Register for our Monday Vital Conversation Series
8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT

This theme will also inform our Tuesday "Connect2012" and Thursday "Occupy Heart" calls.

We can start with the following questions:

  • What is the story about this election that you hear yourself most often telling?  The one that you are wedded to and maybe even take your identity from?*
  • What are the payoffs you receive from holding onto this story?*

*Question framing from Peter Block's Community: The Structure of Belonging

Photo courtesy of the Group Works Deck

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Here ya go, Harvey:

1. Elections are held by governments for the purpose of gaining the consent of the governed, so that they can claim to be legitimate, democratically elected governments representing the will of the people.

2. When individuals vote in elections held by a government, no matter how they vote or who they vote for, they are granting their personal consent of the governed, to be governed, by that government.

3. The Constitution of the United States did not create a democratic form of government because a democratic form of government, by definition, is one where supreme (meaning dominant, highest, ultimate) power is vested in the hands of the people. That is not the case here--we don't even have the power to ensure that our votes are counted, no less compel our elected representatives to represent us.

4. An undemocratic government is a tyranny. A benevolent tyranny is still a tyranny.

5. Voting in elections held by an undemocratic government, is consent to tyranny.

6. Not only are more democratic forms of government possible, but some already exist.

7. Those who take a positive or resigned attitude towards tyranny and consent to it by voting, are a clear and present danger to themselves, to others, and to the survival of the planet.

8. We may not have four more years to waste trying to influence the major parties while allowing third parties try to attempt to gain sufficient power within the system to bring about change.

9. We have the power, the right, and the responsibility, to stop consenting to tyranny and to institute a democratic form of government--we lack only the vision and the will.

The above are not beliefs based on faith, they are rational arguments.

There is a difference between a belief and a rational argument. Some people believe that the announced results of US elections are accurate. They have a Constitutional right to believe whatever they wish. But when election integrity activists pointed out that the results, something like 3,000 votes for Bush, in a district with fewer than 300 registered voters, could not possibly have been accurate, that was a rational argument. That doesn't mean that people could not continue to believe that the originally announced results were accurate, and I'm sure some still do.

To ignore the short, clear, reasonable, individual points I've made and focus on "Objection" (does that mean that I am not agreeing with conventional wisdom?), "automaticity" (that I've already spent many years thinking about and researching these topics and have ready opinions?), and dismiss my questions as being "rhetorical," (that I already know the answers and therefore shouldn't bring these questions to the attention of others?), and, in your opinion, phrased as if "someone owes [me] an Explanation," (you are correct, in that if somebody insists on doing things they know are futile, they have no obligation to give me any explanation, but are you certain that I have no right to bring it to their attention and ask?) and insist that unless I find different ways of saying the same things, there's no possibility for discussion, certainly closes off any possibility of discussion.

I hope I've managed to restate my points in a way that meets with your approval, and I apologize to everyone else for repeating myself.

When I said New Age stupidity, I was referring to the New Age perspective in general, not to Ben or Meg, but to the focus on our attitude towards what we're doing, rather than focusing on what it is that we're doing. No matter how resigned I am to doing it, or how positive my attitude about doing it may be, if I drink and drive, I am a danger to myself and others. You may classify it as insanity, I regard it as stupidity.

Adding a chuckle to an ad hominem comment does not make it into a rational argument. If you do not wish to address my points, for whatever reason, that is your absolute right. Addressing me, my style, my tone, or anything other than my arguments, is ad hominem--a rhetorical ploy people resort to when they cannot refute an argument. Ben does that all the time.

So much for the "keep it short" part of Harvey's request, Mark!  As for addressing your arguments, I am not interested in arguing.  I can tell you that the idea that boycotting this election is going to "save the world" doesn't resonate for me any more than the thought that Obama winning would solve any of the fundamental challenges of our times that you and I both agree about pretty much entirely, as far as I can tell.

I'm an atheist, not a New Age spiritual believer.  And my rational mind tells me things are pretty grim, even though, as you say, what we lack collectively is the will to act (because we also lack the belief that the world we want is indeed possible).  My heart also tells me that I need to be in action to do my part in bringing about transformation, and my head recognizes that I'm happier when I do.  That's Wheatley's point in a nutshell, it seems to me. To be fair though, we probably both ought to read the whole book.

I never said boycotting this election is going to save the world, Ben.

I am saying that it is immoral to vote in an election where you know that only Obama or Romney have any chance of winning, even if you don't vote for them. All votes are counted as part of the turnout that grants them the right to claim to be a legitimate, democratically-elected government, even blank votes and votes for third party candidates.

I do not see how voting in an election that you know will leave either Obama or Romney in charge for the next four years, can be considered action to bring about transformation, any more than I can understand why Jill Stein believes that it is perfectly safe to let Obama or Romney allow aging unsafe nuclear power plants to continue running and to build new ones during the next four years while she grows the Green Party. Personally, I don't believe that things are safe for even the next four days.

Maybe global warming and extreme weather patterns are a myth? Maybe Chernobyl and Fukushima never happened? Maybe there aren't twenty-five nuclear power plants along with the exposed spent fuel pools surrounding each of them in the path of Hurricane Sandy at this very moment?  Maybe all that matters is that Ben Roberts is happy?

Okay, Ben. Don't worry, be happy.

The world we want is only possible if we stop voting to legitimize and consent to the world we don't want.

I'm deeply appreciative of your lucidity and ability to say what you mean, Mark.  I 'see' you.  And I'm with you in your beautiful spirit as well as most all of your points.

A more careful examination of what it means, to exist only in 'the now' seems vital to this dialogue.  It's quite obvious all parties have their own assumptions & precepts around this, including Wheatly who can't join in now... so let's cut the tether & speak from our own life. 

But, I say inquiry that seeks more clarity is vital because 'the now' is devoid of time as we know it (if this needs to be questioned too, so be it).  Yet all conscious thought IS of time and bound up in it.  I know this sounds pretty heavy, possibly quite foreign to many.  Yet, I feel strongly that at least a working (if only mental) understanding of it is critical to development of rational process.

For example:  Why do we occupants of earth dwell almost solely on past and future... oblivious to the 'now'?   Is there a way to speak of future or past, being mindful of the inherent conflict that the only reality is 'now'?  If the only reality is 'now' is all else illusion, including memory?

Now is the evolution. We are somehow its part. It has created the space and time and therefore has the past and the future.

On the other hand I understand what you mean. I am provocative to be given a chance to open the discussion 

Thanks for the compliments. I think I spent part of this morning in 'the now,' Dyck.

A middle class (actually working class, since she and her husband work two jobs each in order to maintain their middle class lifestyle) friend took me out to breakfast at a place I could not afford to go otherwise.

We did spend a lot of time talking about Hurricane Sandy and what else is going on in the world right now, but for much of the breakfast all we did was eat and talk about how good the food was. It was a decadent, irresponsible, totally oblivious "now."

I enjoyed it, and I'm glad that I get to do it once a year or so. But I'm afraid that too many people spend almost all of their time in "the now," oblivious to the past, to reality, to anything except the selfish, decadent, and extremely privileged experience of having a "now" where they aren't in pain, hungry, or suffering the way that most people in the world have been, are, and will be in the future if we don't get the hell out of "the now," and start taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions or inactions.

There is a neurological condition where people have no memory of the past, no way to see a larger picture of reality, and no way to imagine the future--they experience only the moment. Introduce yourself as "Dyck," and they'll say, "Hello, Dyck." Go away and come back the next day, and you'll have to introduce yourself again, as they'll have no memory of you or your previous visit. Perhaps they have only lost the "illusion" of memory, but it is no different than having lost the reality of memory. Similarly, losing the "illusion" of reality is no different from losing contact with reality, another quite common neurological condition, but not one that I'd consider beneficial to those who experience it or their caregivers.

Another experience of living in "the now" might be when military troops kill people. Often they think little or nothing of it at the time, or even enjoy it. But many come home, if they survive, with a conscious or subconscious memory, or an illusion of memory, of what they'd done, that doesn't seem to leave them and has driven many to despair or even to suicide. Yelling, "Bug splat!" when your or your buddies kill unarmed civilians or kids is a vivid experience of being in "the now," but it can also become an incapacitating memory or even a squalid part of history.

In other words, Dyck, although you certainly do express yourself pleasantly and apparently sincerely, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about.  ;)

I hope I could possibly mediate between you. If only you would be ready to listen, in the meantime, when you don't express yourselves...

Thanks for your offer Pawel.  I would relish your engagement!


I get it Mark.  And yes, I am sincere... and I see a gulf between us... but how to cross it?

Probably due to my aging bones and other forces I have more patience than I used to.  I sometimes use this patience to attempt to slow things down to a pace that allows me to chew-on or savor.  To me there's not much use in drive-by conversations that arrive quickly to strangely alien destinations that I could never find again.

You (& others) may not be inclined to 'hang-with' me in wanting to inquire carefully... especially for a subject that seems obvious or banal.*  So, I'll try not to push or sell anything and just take care of speaking from my own truth.

I will say for those interested, inquiry is a little different than discussion and I find it useful personally.  Most importantly, inquiry values sincere questions that really beg for vital relationships that leave no one behind (instead of promoting or directing).  I understand inquiry to deal more with forming 'the right' questions, and then noticing what is attracted to them (including what happens inside). 

Being tentative about what one 'knows' has more value than proclamations and opinions... in advancing what is not known (which is why there are questions, no?).  Authentic feelings and stories, friendliness, ability to suspend one's beliefs to listen, etc., are of value.

* For those who are unplugged from this line of dialogue or inquiry, I respect that and ask for non-interference (but only if you are not vested and sincere about it)... as it is difficult & complex enough to form and stay with a serious and meaningful question.

Dyck, is there some way that you could connect what you're saying to the topic of this thread, which happens to be "The $#@%! Election?"

You may be more patient, but I'm also aging, and I'm at the point where I'm tempted to spell out what "$#@%!" stands for.  ;)

We are most complex agents of the cosmic evolution (from planetary POV). The phenomenon is one, and there is one sense of “one” and “now”, but now everyone/every agent present is different.

There are two possible directions of individual inquiry – inner and outer.

Deep, profound inner inquiry leads to experience of “oneness” as the source of evolutionary impulse. At the leading edge of spirituality it is defined as timeless, formless Being, void of any information accessible for our mind. The only “thing” we can keep in mind asking questions and discussing is this deep personal experience of oneness.

Other direction is outer. Conscious mind of an agent, built of information (DNA) and using memorized information (knowledge) inquire for better, more accurate information from outside – presenting the answers stored in memory (worldview) and asking questions, expecting progressive answers fitting its particular set of stored information. Oneness is then the part of one’s worldview and can be only an illusion, being separated from true oneness by the process of individual evolutionary development.

To integrate the whole personalities (from deepest inside to informed, open conscious mind) of all of us/ agents is the challenge of “now”, most important field for collaboration between agents.

Definitely we (Dyck and me) do not fit the topic of this thread. On the other hand my impression after one year of presence @ café is that I do not fit it at all.


Weekly Cafe Calls

Regular Calls are no longer being held.  Below is the schedule that was maintained from the Fall of 2011 through Jan 10, 2013.

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