Tag Archives: democracy

The End of the Beginning

JimBioPic

By Jim Selman| Bio

Ah, January 1st, the new beginning and a chance
to finally get it right this year. Or is it?

Perhaps it is the End of the Beginning. When we began as a
nation, we were full of hope and idealism. We believed that every person could
thrive and prosper if they worked hard and learned from their past mistakes.

Today, can we honestly say we believe that hard work will
take us in the direction of our dreams? What happened to us? Where are we
going?

Our current

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The 3 Rs of Citizenship

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By Jim Selman | Bio

When I was growing up, you needed to be master the 3 Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) in order to be educated. Today we need to master a new 3 set of ‘Rs’: Rights, Rewards and Responsibilities.

When I first started traveling to other countries in the 1970s, the conversation about the USA was always in a context of respect and even admiration—even when criticizing certain aspects. But for the last 10 years or so, I have noticed that the conversations are changing

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12-Step Program for America: Step 4

By Jim Selman | Bio

Read the rest of the 12-Step Program > Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

We’ve been drawing an analogy between the state of affairs in the governance of our country and the various kinds of addictive conditions we face as individuals. Specifically, we’ve been saying the ‘system’ is broken, we’re out of control and we need to find something larger than the political gridlock driven by special and self-interest groups we’re witnessing in Washington.

In watching the final hours of the healthcare debate, I was heartened when one

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12-Step Program for America: Step 1

By Jim Selman | Bio

I work with organizations that are attempting to change. At the beginning of working with a new client, I point out what’s missing for any organization that has recurring or seemingly intractable problems: what’s missing is a different way of observing. Whether we’re talking about a company, a community or a continent, a new perspective always gives us an opening to create new possibilities, have new choices and take new actions: a new way of observing the world effectively gives us a different future than some variation of ‘more of the same’. =&0=&. When we do, we begin to realize that we have a paradigm problem. Until we deal with that, none of our seemingly intractable problems—from staggering debt to unending war, climate change to the underlying causes of the mortgage crises—can be solved. Albert Einstein expressed this concisely when he said that sometimes our problems cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them.

Paradigm problems are like addictions. They are ‘self-referential’ structures that, at some point, disconnect us from a larger ‘reality’. Once disconnected, we begin to follow self-destructive patterns of behavior until we ‘hit bottom’ or have some form of crisis that ‘breaks the paradigm’ and opens possibilities for making other choices. In AA and most ‘recovery’ literature, the self-destructive behavior is understood to be the symptom. The ‘disease’

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Is This the End of Democracy?

By Jim Selman | Bio

Future historians may mark the first decade of the 21st century as the time when democracy died. And if they do, they will say that democracy died because people became so resigned and afraid that they retreated into closed and cloistered communities motivated by self-interest, ideological fervor and ignorance. History will note that what began as honest differences grew into an irreconcilable fragmentation of the body politic.

Some will make the case that it all began with

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G-20, Gee Whiz

By Jim Selman | Bio

I am not an economist and I don’t know what to think about all the ‘unprecedented’ claims coming from the joint communiqué of the G-20 summit. I hope it works. But, hey, a trillion isn’t what it used to be! As a guy who has been around enough to be a little bit wary of political claims of bright horizons, I wonder if the world’s leaders are really united to correct past excesses and grease the financial system enough to restore confidence in the future.

After all, isn’t that what this is really about? I don’t mean just the repairing all the economic machinery, but ordinary people’s confidence in the future? Can our kids look forward to having children of their own with some expectation that they can raise them in a manner that is reasonably close to how they were raised? If we believe the pundits, the prospects are grim.  President Obama is doing his usual eloquent job of trying to be straight with the electorate

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The Election

By Jim Selman | Bio

One more day and we’ll know for sure who will be our President. If we accept the polls, it looks like a slam-dunk for Obama. (I already voted for him.) But even should there be a miracle for McCain, the nation faces a moment of truth unlike any time that I can recall’—at least not since the end of the Civil War. I am talking about how we get beyond the LEFT versus RIGHT schism that has divided and fragmented our nation and made a mockery of what we used to say in the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ when we declared ourselves to be “One Nation Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All”.

I am betting that Obama is sincere in his commitment to this and that he will have the leadership skills to inspire and unite a divided nation. This is a lot more than just ‘working across the aisle’—although that might be a good start. Rather, it means confronting the institutionalized identities that political entrepreneurs have used to garner power. We must stop labeling each other as ‘black Americans’, ‘Hispanic Americans’ ‘Gay Americans’ and on and on

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The World We Want: The Power of Authentic Stories

By David Korten | Great Turning website

Read more posts in The World We Want series.

Profound social change takes place when an important cultural story changes—and the impetus to challenge imperial rule rarely comes from within the institutions of Empire. Democracy took hold when we replaced the story of the divine right of kings with the story that the powers of government derive from the will of the people. People of color and women won recognition of their full human rights only as the civil

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The World We Want: The Big Picture III

By David Korten | Great Turning website

Read more posts in The World We Want series.

This brings us to the third element of the big picture of the human confrontation with the limits of our Mother Earth: the governing institutions to which we give the power to set our priorities and our collective course. We might wonder how such injustice could happen in a world governed by democratically elected governments. The answer is simple and alarming.

Our world is not governed by democratically elected

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Growing Older—A Team Sport

Tom Brokaw in a recent AARP op-ed piece pointed to the obvious fact that as the Boomers retire they’re going to change our social and economic reality in profound ways. Lots of others are predicting the coming crunch associated with questions of how to pay astronomical healthcare and Social Security costs with a shrinking workforce and tax base. Consider that about 4 or 5 of us have supported

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