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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I think it is really important for you to be here. If your perspective is the perspective of one being ignored, then that is an ESSENTIAL perspective to have here at this cafe.

I also think saving the world is extremely important.

The Wheatley Quotes

I have downloaded the Sample of Meg Wheatley's book on my Kindle out of reading her view of hope.  The Sample was the Introduction of the book and was so sensibly and kindly that I have downloaded the entire book.   I shall get to it as soon as I finish Sacred Economics.

It has taken so much time to read Sacred Economics, for I find myself highlighting it more... and reading it more carefully... than any book I have read in a long time..   Remarkable!

Thank you, Ben for bringing both books to our attention.


Dear Ben et al,


What has been missing for me in this discussion is the Spirit of Inquiry.  Mostly this discussion shows up for me like a series of radios blaring at each other, each tuned into their own station. 


Not surprising, I suppose.  After all, the usual ‘discussion’ we are used to... in our context of You OR me... shows up for me as the competitive presentation of our point of view, using the strongest language we can create, stopping just short of being insulting.  Our culture seems to hold ‘debate’ as the primary mode of conversational intercourse... and we are all good representatives of that culture.  Sort of like the presidential debates... but here on this site.


For me ‘inquiry’ more nearly resembles a question rather than an answer.   Not a question that demands an answer.... rather one that puts one...deliberately... into a space of not-knowing.   A space of wondering... with others... about the topic.  A space that welcomes phrases like,  “I wonder”    “Do you suppose...”   “Once, this happened to me....”   “I tentatively concluded”.... “When I look I discover...”    “What do you feel, surmise,  entertain, consider....”


In short, the complete opposite of “Let me tell you how it is.....”  and “I THINK”... (meaning, for this purpose, that  “I am completely certain and am totally unchangeable in that opinion... and I am determined to prove I am right.”


I think of inquiry as occurring in lightness, perhaps even humor.... a function of listening deeply and a willingness to be changed... more right-brained, perhaps, than left brained and logical... more of the imagination and the wonderment of a child and a willingness to constantly look ...newly... at the question and ‘what might be there to contribute’. 


Well, enough.  I think y’all get the point I am making.... I wonder what y’all be considering about this....


What you are observing here Harvey seems to me is not uncommon (a need to assert rather than inquire).  In fact, it seems the law of the land to avoid inquiry, no?  And as much as I love, and long for true inquiry, I see it coming to me mostly from intention and effort.   And to be honest-- only when I'm ready for it.  (Holy shit, I'm usually on the other side of this topic.  But, it seems this forum is cracking me open a bit.)

Perhaps everyone has their own time, their own season, for inquiry.  Many or most may have no experience in it or very little know-how.  It is quite difficult to 'stay-with' a question because it often gets close to something one may want to avoid confronting in themselves and in front of others.  So, there are perhaps many delicate not-so-obvious reasons for avoiding inquiry.

And then there's this question... what's all this about anyway?  Is it really about the topic at hand... or is it really about our relationships with one another?  Personally, though I have great interest in almost everything, it is easy for me to be diverted into the personal aspects of human connection.  And paradoxically it is easy for me to be propelled or lost in the issue and (even while trying to appear polite) ignore people. 

Difficult as it is, for me it's most alive (in the moment) and productive to explore the resistance (regardless of the topic).

Yeah.  Right on.Yes, I too long for true inquiry.  And,  for me also, this cafe is about our relationships with one another.  At least I believe it to be... Ben, Jitendra... what say you?  Is that its purpose?

Yes, it is difficult to explore the resistance, isn't it?   For the mind wants to go to defense in order to avoid being open... and thus be hurt.   Clever thing, this mind.  As my friend, Werner, used to say..."Useful servant but a terrible master". 

Thank you, Dick,   Harvey

Ben, Jitendra... what say you?  Is that its purpose?

Yes, Harvey, for me the Cafe is indeed about our relationships.  I have aspired to steward a space where the quality of our connections with one another takes precedence over the ideas we are trying to communicate.  Thus grounded in the "heart," I believe we can open the opportunity to think together in ways that are truly generative. 

Have we achieved this?  My sense is that it has been the case at least some of the time, for some people.  I consider that worth celebrating, whatever the limitations may be in what we have co-created thus far.  I'll say more about those below, in response to Pawel, along with some additional thoughts on our possible purpose.

Ben, I am sure I am misunderstanding you and you are misunderstanding me. On the stage of life, playing our roles, we are not used to say what we really think. Even if we try we refer to personal, flawed experience and apply fuzzy logic. So if “I” meant my worldview (dialogue with the world), the stage would be crowded by straw men, straw dogs, red herrings, etc.

Very often I misunderstand myself. Probably the issue of my belonging is just the case (belonging is not the appropriate concept). Probably you are right and I am frustrated.

Anyhow I hope;-) you might give me one more chance to ask you (as a steward) the question :  Is my intuition, my inner motivation, pushing me in the same direction as you – the movement – move?

No fallacies intended, I have simply tried to identify the source of my frustration and here it is naked:

Real and meaningful change for good comes when WE THE PEOPLE stand, speak and act together, cooperatively and collaboratively.

For me it implies the process (of change) and the group (deserving to be named We The People). Or maybe consecutive processes: building the group, writing together the next act of global play, playing it.

They raise the problems. We all want better future (change) and are missing common vision, and there is no “WE” to direct “us” towards it.

My frustration must have begun in January, when the discussion Let's Get the Problem Definition Right has come to an end with no effect. Within my logic (well, I know it is fuzzy) common problem definition should be the starting point.

Your answer has made me understand what I have been doing @ OC since then: seeking another point of attachment to grasp the direction of the movement you represent, aware of the fact that I must choose to accept/not accept your choice of the direction (you represent some kind of potential or power, I am a lonely stranger).

Yes, I am frustrated because I can identify neither the direction of possible change in the café space, nor the common spirit of inquiery (thank you Harvey). Yes, I am frustrated because I cannot find any discussion powerful enough to get out of the frame provided by the café. Yes, I am frustrated by your respect for divergence and no aim at convergence.

Summary: the concept of stewardship makes me think about voyage and a ship. Where is your (space)ship going? I cannot choose to get on board unless I know!

Oi!   So many questions.   So much hope.  So much seriousness.

This for the questions:  Here's the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
unfortunately we don't know what the question is. All we know is the answer  is ---- 42.   Douglas Adams

And for the hope, this:   by  Derrick Jensen:
..."PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK ME, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good."...
And for the seriousness, this:    Life is important.  But it is not serious.   Werner Erhard.
From me:  Screw the elections.  May Obama win.  Life is really good. Let the good times roll, cha, cha, cha.

YES:-)!, I share your joy of life.

My personal problem is thinking - I like to think (besides few other things I love to do). I cannot find company to do it together.

I agree that thinking is a problem, especially when we try to do it alone.  Then  it's more like 'having the same old thoughts' than thinking.   Like when a cow ruminates the same old material over and over and over.   Like the cow, when we do it alone, the thing that comes out the other endis technically known as cowshit. 

Seems to me that real thinking can occur only  in relationship... and when this occurs, it is a sacred event, no matter what the thought-full topic.  And maybe here, Pawel?   If not here, where?

Ah, like what's his name used to say,   'When two or more are gathered in my name...."  :) Hard to remember names at my age...

Here they say "thought is liar". And they are not eager to think together what we can do to make it not be...

If I knew where I wouldn't have a problem...!


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.

"Vital Conversations" 

8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT 

Tuesdays (except 10/16)
"Connect 2012"

1-3p PDT | 4-6p EDT | 8-10p GMT

"Occupy Heart" 

3-5p PDT | 6-8p EDT | 10p-12a GMT

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