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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Pawel, this is a virtual cafe. It has no size, shape, or dimensions. It is impossible not to "fit" it. There is no spatial "it" to fit.

As for discussions, the stewards do or don't allow them to stray off topic, depending upon no particular rules or system that I've been able to discern.

I am not personally drawn to metaphysical discussions. It's been about 50 years since I read Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, and Rumi. Nor do I have the temerity of my beatnik and hippie days to suggest to anyone on the east coast that they "be one with the storm." These days I'm just a geezer who is focused on trying to stop people from voting their physical habitat out from under their physical feet.

So please forgive me if I tend to go with the topic instead of with the flow of the cosmos, and I'll forgive you for taking the opposite approach. There is definitely room in this cafe for all of us.  ;)

Thank you a lot for this construction Pawel.  I so appreciate that indeed it does fit the topic, elections... also the cafe, the storm Sandy, the participants and lurkers, Iran, Capitalism, you and me too.  Of course all I really know about is me.

Right now I'm thinking about the election in terms that Mark presented earlier.  I'm so sad that I have allowed this to happen in MY country.  But, I have in the past felt impotent... afraid to stand up-- stand out-- make a spectacle of something I sensed was happening.  Well, I've changed.

Those past moments were 'my now' at some point years ago.  I let them pass without dealing fully with it.  I ignored my intuition, my rage, my fear, my many limitations as just one man.  I protected myself and what I had as thought was of value--- more value than what I saw happening to my country.  I only watched as I saw it in TV commercials, in the lopsided news, in the corporate manipulation and their favor in government, etc..

OK, here's another 'now' in front of me.  What am I doing with it?  I'm discovering myself in this Cafe... discovering me within YOU.  I don't want to piss away my effort 'figuring it all out' from my past experience, or from any history.  Fuck, by that time everything 'd be changed. I don't want to piss away my effort 'planning for something logical but naive'.   I want to BE.  I want to FEEL.  I want to ALLOW.  I'll CHANGE.  I long for HARMONY between us on this forum ......................................... and then on earth!  That's what's in me NOW.

Well, Mark,  I thank you for the response.  I was hoping for, perhaps, a single point that you felt strongly about.  Or maybe two.   I counted and it seems that you have made about 28 points, which, if I wished to address this plethora, would take perhaps a book.  So, for the moment, I shall politely decline.

I agree that I addressed you ad hominem.     My hope was to somehow break through the armor of reason, rationality and left brain logic... and reach the tenderness within.   Guess that didn't work.  Oh, well. I apologize if I have offended.


Apology accepted, Doc, and I apologize for being a wordy writer who actually has written a book on this topic and who does not feel in the least tender towards anything that threatens my survival and the survival of the planet. Some atavistic survival instinct, perhaps.  ;)

Are we beginning to know one another yet?  I feel like saying "Come on out (or in) and play." to all reading this forum.

Mark, I'm getting to know you more deeply, I feel.  And I like what I'm feeling;  Your essay and then then beautifully clear 9 points of the 'state of our election process';  And (to my confusion) your surprisingly critical comments about Cafe Stewards;  And your statement,

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

And, I appreciate your asking me for the connection of my statements to our topic of elections.  And in response to my challenge to go into inquiry you indicate you have looked into this 'metaphysical' stuff... reading Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, and Rumi when you were younger, 50 years ago.  And now you don't prefer to get into it now again.

Personally, I see everything as emanating from the 'now'.  So I don't see it as theoretical or even confusing, but rather my own reality (this isn't a direct response to your question as I don't sense the usefulness at this point).  Yet, many intelligent, passionate, high integrity, caring people don't see the use or vital relevance to everything (of examining the 'now'), nor have the energy to pursue it.  I respect this difference without prejudice or diminishment... simply seeing a temporary limitation of relationship development. 

So, I stand with, affirm and support you... and feel a closeness with you, even while I acknowledge that for now we are estopped to explore the gulf between us, to move even closer.  And I will continue to enjoy reading and responding to your posts.

You have my humble, if excruciatingly mundane, gratitude, Dyck.

Resonance is the precursor of harmony. And if it isn't, since I don't remember anyone saying any such thing, it darned well could be--let's make it so!

And to stray from or get back to the topic, depending on one's point of view, here are the URLs from two articles about Sunday's election in Italy that corroborate my contentions that voter turnout is carefully observed and remarked upon after elections, that an election boycott isn't necessarily just written off as apathy even by the mainstream media, that it doesn't require that everyone not vote--even a slightly lower turnout can be effective, that it doesn't necessarily result in a right-wing victory, and that it can lower a country's international credit ratings and thus influence policy decisions.

Low Voter Turnout in Sicily Suggests Anger at Politicians

Protest party does well in Sicily election; turnout down sharply

Dyck, you say:

I don't want to piss away my effort 'planning for something logical but naive'....   I want to BE.  I want to FEEL.  I want to ALLOW.  I'll CHANGE.  I long for HARMONY between us on this forum ......................................... and then on earth!  That's what's in me NOW.

That’s in me too. On the other hand I feel I do not fit the forum discussions and Cafe in general for the very specific, definite reason.

Longing is an inner motivation. So far my reception of the café is people sharing this motivation to build common hope.

It can also lead to common conscious action. The issues of flawed experience, fuzzy logic, naïve realism could be addressed to produce change of the way we are thinking/planning/deciding. All necessary components (of both kinds, abstract/virtual and technological) are at our disposal.

I believe our generation has reached the level of development the past generations have been hoping for. Their dreams are our reality. “Now” is the time for new kind of action. We are responsible to remove limitations, resonate on different plane, and restore harmony.  Not to hope the restoration is somehow guaranteed by the timeless, formless, empty Being responsible for the big bang.

Am I with you and the café, or should I withdraw?

Pawel, you've mentioned or implied that you are quite 'different' from others... something we must share as brothers.  And several times that you might not 'belong' on this forum. 

It is no secret that I do not think or behave like others either.  In my life this has caused endless troubles for myself and for others (there's endless beauty too).  I used to claim my utter independence, denied my need for others, for groups, for love, for emotion (I suppose to insulate & protect myself). 

Sometime past 50 all this began to turn around... I met a woman.  She's still my spiritual Master.  A tiny unpretentious woman.  She was almost the exact opposite of me.  She was quiet, sincere, sensitive and was kind to every living thing.  In my life as a man, I never acknowledged or knew kindness.  Over time it broke me apart and then put me back together in a different configuration...  Its still affecting me in this way as I learn more about it. 

I think power of kindness is in seeing a completely different world... I sense it slowly giving me more ability as it overtakes me to lose myself in the beauty and intelligence in others and everything. 

The Cafe was put here for me, serving me up at my doorstep, the world... a real world that tells me the truth if I'm listening.  How badly do I need to know truth or what's real?  Am I the human being I need to be?  Am I challenging my human potential (and what I know)? 

Pawel, you write:

So far my reception of the café is people sharing this motivation to build common hope... I believe our generation has reached the level of development the past generations have been hoping for. Their dreams are our reality. “Now” is the time for new kind of action. We are responsible to remove limitations, resonate on different plane, and restore harmony.  Not to hope the restoration is somehow guaranteed by the timeless, formless, empty Being responsible for the big bang.

You suggest that the conversations here at the Cafe are all about "hope," backed by faith God to solve our problems.  This strikes me as a "straw man."  It is certainly not my own perspective on things as an atheist.  Indeed, I posted a quote to this thread on Monday from Meg Wheatley suggesting that "hope," whether grounded in physics or metaphysics, is a poor motivation in these challenging times.  Here's an excerpt again:

Hope is such a dangerous source of motivation. It’s an
ambush, because what lies in wait is hope’s ever-present
companion, fear: the fear of failing, the despair of
disappointment, the bitterness and exhaustion that can
overtake us when our best, most promising efforts are
rebuked, undone, ignored, destroyed.

So... I hear that you are frustrated because you don't feel fully engaged with by others here in the Cafe.  You therefore regularly question whether or not you "belong here."  My own experience is that it is hard to sustain engagement with you when you (and others) seem to present a caricature of "the Cafe" as if it were some dead animal you could put on a slab, dissect and examine for disease.

To my eye, the best thing we have done here is to create a space where relationships have formed. Yes, these relationships are animated by ideas, by hopes even, by visions of what might be possible and for some at least, by a desire to come together as a community and take concrete action out in the world.  And we are also clearly animated by our fears and by our battles against despair and cynicism. At the same time, for many it is simpler than that.  We are looking to create an "oasis" amidst the pain and chaos of a world where our choice to live "in the mainstream" (in the broadest sense) makes us accomplices to past and future crimes against humanity and the biosphere.  

We are looking for a space where we can show up authentically and speak to this reality rather than putting our heads in the sand.  AND, for now, where we don't have to feel that we are failing if showing up in that way doesn't produce a list of action items or some grand consensus on the way out of this global hairball.

Ben, “straw man” is about logical fallacy. I assume we are all straw men, but when I tried to discuss the experiential nature of logic my post was ignored.

Because of this fallacy you qualify me as someone whose purpose is to present caricature of the café. It is not true, I present my experience of (my point of view) being ignored.

The last example is the promising (at least I thought so) discussion with Jittendra on Collaboration thread, Oct.22 -24.

In view of your repeated quote from Meg Wheatley the issue of my belonging or not belonging here is fully justified. At the end of your quote she says:

These brave people are true warriors. Seeing as clearly as they can, hearts as open as they can bear, they keep doing their work. .....Perhaps you see yourself in this description. Or perhaps you still rely on the hope that it’s possible to save the world.

I do neither. The concept of “saving the world” is absurd for me (save our illusion???). To surrender to inertia of social/market/financial system is collective suicide (feeding back to cosmic evolution as the the dead end, errorenous trial).

So – can I belong?

Dyck, during last weeks you are the bright side of the cafe for me, your posts resonate with my experience and my feelings and give me the energy necessary to continue my adventure here.

I think you're misunderstanding me, Pawel.  The "straw man" argument is your characterization of "the Cafe" as described in the quote from you at the start of my post above.  A "straw man" is not a logical fallacy--it's a phony argument that you then can easily knock down. I.e. that the only people who "belong" in this place are those who operate based on hope, grounded in some metaphysical belief, that they are saving the world.  I'm NOT saying that is true for me in this space.  And Wheatley's point is that that doesn't work for her either. 

More fundamentally, you belong here if you choose to, and if you operate within basic norms of respect towards other participants.  That said, I get that you are seeking something, and you are frustrated that you are not finding it but are repeatedly teased into thinking it might still be here.  Do you think it's our job as "stewards" to fix that for you? From my perspective, our job is to create hospitable space, and to help frame some powerful conversations and then let you all take them where you will (as well as leaving open the option for you to start their own as well, at least on the forum and in our groups).

I also want to note that sometimes I take off my "steward hat" and join in  the dialogue as well (ditto for Jitendra).  Perhaps that is more where your frustration lies.  I will own that I have often gone back and forth with you a few times and then stopped when I got distracted, busy, or confused.  I'm still game for seeing if we can get somewhere if you are, and perhaps we can bring in Dyck and Harvey too.  I warn you, we may wind up talking about straw men some more though!


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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