Reality Television and The Casey Anthony Saga (podcast)

So here I am, just one week after the royal wedding extravaganza plus the final of American Idol, flipping through the channels, and I come upon HLN where there is this amazing spectacle. It is the trial of Casey Anthony, who is accused of being involved in the murder of her 2 year-old daughter.

Listen Dr. Miller reading this article at the end of the post!

This is reality television! We are in the courtroom eavesdropping on a life and death drama through the unblinking eye of the TV camera. There’s a split screen Casey Anthony Trial Image shot with Casey on one side and her father in the witness stand on the other.  We watch the frozen expression on her face and on that of her detective father as he tries to avoid implicating his daughter as he explains why he did not call the police when he smelled the unmistakable odor of a dead body in the car. Then, the newsroom takes over and we watch warm and touching films of Kaylee playing with her grandfather.

The newscaster asks us, “Is he covering up for his daughter for killing the granddaughter he loved so much?” Right there in my face he is saying that, and in the face of the entire country? Extraordinary.

And then at the end of the day the local legal pundits review the interesting parts of the trial. And it is billed as “your story” and people are invited to comment. Some comment by phone, some by email, and others are interviewed on camera.

The trial of Casey Anthony is a cultural event – a time of shared interest and shared attention – no less than the royal wedding or the superbowl. Just like we used to talk about Dallas around the water cooler or Days of Our Lives in the supermarket checkout line – now we have this to share the next day. Imagine all the conversations in beauty shops, lunchrooms, and such. This is a cultural event.

Then I begin to think: “is this like the Roman Amphitheater, and we are watching the battle between a lion and a bear or gladiators and Christians?” The story certainly has that blood-lust attraction, just the kind of sensational blood and guts that the media knows we love. As they say in the newsroom, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

Just as in the OJ trial, people are taking sides. And why not? The storyline is as good as any good whodunit movie – except that it’s real!

Here’s my take: Whether or not such a spectacle as this is simply another representation of the blood lust that spawned the Roman Amphitheaters, Professional Wrestling, and the Superbowl I will not comment on – one thing that is quite clear to me that something remarkable is happening here!

One thing I am awed by is the very immediacy of each thing that happens. Millions of eyes are intent upon this flicker of an eyelash, tightening of the lips, unconscious blink, or change in posture. How can it be that so many people are mentally and emotionally involved in such a personal and intimate event. An attractive young woman on trial for her life – accused of murdering her own daughter. Now there’s a story line worthy of Agatha Christie.

As is my habit, I find myself thinking, “Is there a positive, healing purpose that this phenomenon, that this technology can serve.” I have been writing for decades about the coming of the time that human beings can take control of their home planet – what I refer to as “Healing Our Planet.” And I continue to believe that this can happen easily and quickly if we but discover how to use our technology properly. We have the most amazing global system of computers and machines disposal – but we don’t appear to have the Operating Instructions.

The 9/11 terrorists were able to use ten dollars worth of box cutters to redirect our technology (the planes and the sheer size of the towers) to create a profound global shift in consciousness).  Similarly, the Internet, the cell phone, Facebook, twitter, for instance – these technologies have all changed the course of human life.

(This same technology can be used to focus millions of minds on the truly very important drama we all living through together.) How remarkable that our technology has reached the point of being able to allow a huge number of people be present for such a personal event, and to then be able to call or write in and have their very impassioned views aired.

They say the purpose of the shaman in a tribe is to take individual personal experiences and make them collective events – like a wedding – or to take a community event and make it personal, like celebrating when the hometown wins.

The Media – Our Cultural Shaman

(So is television – or more generally, media – our cultural shaman.)

That’s what’s happening here. The recent royal wedding ceremony, for example, is an event designed to take the very personal experience of a couple making vows to love each other and turn it into a collective experience. The Media then takes this national event and amplifies it throughout the world. Think of the global event that was the death of Princess Diana.

What if we used our skills to create a series of events that enabled larger and larger groups of people to explore and learn collectively, to access their collective intelligence, and evoke the collective wisdom that we need in order to use the fantastic power we possess to change the course of mankind for the better.

We are clearly headed off a cliff, about to be done in by, disasterous financial decisions, corruption, polarization, terrorist thinking (suicide bombs, torture, prejudice), peak oil, and catastrophic climate change. Not just destruction, but SELF-destruction!

The good news is that we can completely reverse this if we come together and enable ourselves to think differently. In addition to how we usually look at things, we need to also look at the world through eyes unclouded by fear, anger, lust or greed. We need to acknowledge the vital importance of seeing the truth in every issue from abortion to global warming.

We need to see the need for and develop empathy and compassion, or, as Einstein said, “find fulfillment by succeeding in attaining a love and an understanding of people, and animals, and plants, and stars, so that every joy becomes your joy and every pain your pain?”

Meanwhile watching the Casey-watchers is as fascinating as watching the spectacle itself. Oh, if we only paid that much attention to something of real importance to each of us.

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Press ‘Play’ to listen!

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Help! I’m Stuck in a Tsunami Blonde Joke

Oh, No, Not Again!

March and April found us back again, sitting shocked, amazed, spellbound, and powerless in front of our TV screens – watching as hundreds of thousands flee their homes and the steaming nuclear reactors.b

Dumbfounded we stared, as crews carried out the Hail Mary procedure of squirting sea water on the nuclear core to try to slow its progress towards a meltdown and the potential contamination of millions of locals, not to the billions across the ocean those of us across the ocean. Then the terrible stories of those who lost everything nightly across our TV screens.

And here I am, having that eerie feeling, hearing that spooky voice that keeps repeating, “It’s happening again, its happening again . . .”

The Art of Helplessly Looking On

Back in September of 2001 we all were glued to our television sets impotently watching the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers burn and collapse to the ground and New Yorkers running from a giant ball of debris growing as it overtook lower Manhattan.

It wasn’t long afterward that we watched as corruption and greed led to the demise of Enron, Arthur Anderson, Countrywide, Jack Abramoff, AIG, and so on – the predictable result of behaviors that were not only dishonest, but criminal. But what could we do?

Then we looked on helplessly as the stock market plummeted toward the abyss created by credit default swaps, ushering in the near total collapse of the global credit markets, and following close on its heels, the boggle boggling multibazillion dollar bailouts and the pain of the so-called “Recession of 2008.”

And here we are now, well into 2011, feeling that feeling of despair as we tune in to the news of millions of hard-working Americans having lost their jobs and homes to the recession. And again we felt helpless. Here’s an interesting little video – Bill Moyers’ take on how all that went down: The epidemic fraud in the Economic Meltdown Video .

Well, we made it through the Almost A Nuclear Meltdown scare, but folks in my neck of the woods are pretty freaked about the radioactive particles wafting our way. What’s next?

Stuck In a Dumb Blonde Joke

Somehow I have the feeling I am stuck in one of those “dumb blonde” jokes:

The Wager

Bob walks into a sports bar around 9:58 pm. He sits down next to a blonde at the bar staring up at the TV. The 10 pm news comes on, and the news crew covering the story of a man on the ledge of a large building preparing to jump.

The blonde looks at Bob and says, “Do you think he’ll jump?”

Bob says, “You know, I bet he’ll jump.”

The blonde replies, “Well, I bet he won’t.”

Bob places a $20 bill on the bar and says, “You’re on!”

Then, just as the blonde places her money on the bar, the guy on the ledge does a swan dive off the building, falling to his death. The blonde is very upset, but willingly hands her $20 to Bob, saying, “Fair’s fair. Here’s your money.”

Bob replies sheepishly, “I have to confess, I cheated. I saw this earlier on the 5 pm news, and so I knew he would jump.”

The blonde replies, “I did too, but didn’t think he’d do it again.”

Bob took the money…

click image for more blond jokes!

Blonde Like Me

How like that blonde we are – being surprised to see the same thing happening again and again, but unable to see that all these shocking events are really the result of a single underlying process at work in our global culture. I believe that until we really confront the real issues and begin to think systemically and examine the root patterns at work here, we are likely to continue to see this parade of tragedies. .

I don’t know what is coming next, but it’s bound to be a doozy. Hang on to your seats, folks!

The Cure for Blondeness

Fortunately this kind of blondeness is curable.

To me, the recent events in the Middle East demonstrate the power we can all have over our lives. I believe technology is a key part of using that power. As we learn to communicate better, the we awaken the intelligence and wisdom we need to free ourselves. We are entering the era of global community now, where time never sleeps and unfathomable amounts of information are at our fingertips.

The time for collaboration around Things That Matter has come. Connecting in a meaningful way with others is best in person. Second best, the information highway is running an ever-closer second. The internet provides an excellent medium for making meaningful connections, and a number of people and organizations have created some excellent centers for connecting and collaborating. I will suggest a few that I think might well help you shift to a mode of thinking that can enable a deeper understanding of what’s going on and offer some very reasonable actions you can take to help change this.

The change we want can come amazingly quickly. As our communication technologies mature, I can see the same vision as Clay Shirky,( consultant, teacher, and writer on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies), alludes to in this fascinating video – why we are on the brink of change, if we will recognize and use it.

The recent peaceful revolts in Tunisia and Egypt demonstrate how effectively cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter can empower even people who live in these relatively deprived and primitive conditions.

I believe there are enough of us who want to change and that we already possess the collective intelligence and wisdom that can set us free. All that is necessary is for us to begin to play our part in the conversation . . . What are we waiting for?

Steps for Recovering Blondes

Below are a few suggestions for getting started. When you arrive at these links, I recommend you read what is online then, and also that  strongly recommend that you actually SUBSCRIBE. These are living sites and subscribing will insure that you will receive future postings. Or you may click RSS ; it will be uploaded to your RSS readers.

Tom Atlee’s Cointelligence Newsletter addresses the fascinating concepts and practices of Collective Intelligence and is a great place to start.

The World Café offers guidance , materials, and online support for free on how to create conversations that matter to your neighborhood, family, and/or workplace. Here’s one of my conversations with Juanita Brown , the co-creator of The World Café, and here is a video I’ve put together about the World Café .

Alan Briskin’s provocative and intelligent book, Collective Wisdom , introduces his readers to that special kind of knowledge and insight that is available only through group and community interaction.

The Collective Wisdom Initiative website was created to help broadcast the emerging field of collective wisdom, its study and practice. It came into being in 2002 with support from the Fetzer Institute .

And here’s a clever little animation Rebel Girl and The Vagina Report , showing the power of collective action.

And, of course, if you are subscribed to my eNewsletter, “ Healing Times ,” or click RSS in my blog site, I will do my best to send you updates. And I invite you to contribute, and to pass this site along to your friends.

The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our mode of thinking and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe .” – Albert Einstein

” If you only knew . . .” – Emmett Miller

Healing Through Gardening

One excellent way to “Think Globally, Act Locally” is through the remarkable benefits to you and your community of a few hours a week gardening. I will get to the gardening, but first, with your permission, a little story.

A few days ago, returning from San Miguel de Allende, I paused at one of the magazine stands in the airport. It seemed other cover story complained of the sad state of our planet. But few offered any suggestions as to what we could do about it other than enjoy the royal wedding. I think that we actually can do something about it.

If we truly wish to survive the global collapse that has already begun, we must, as Gandhi said, think globally, act locally.

In my most recent book , I explored the various symptoms we see throughout our culture, and how the prognosis is dire indeed – unless we choose to change. The truth of my main points is even more obvious now: we must recognize on an individual, as well as a national and culture-wide basis, that we need to connect not only with people locally but also with our local environment , and realize we are all in this together.

How To Think Globally

Thinking globally quickly reveals to us that — if we wish to sustain any semblance of our accustomed lifestyles — we must put real energy into creating local community (in addition to the distributed communities we are developing online). That includes establishing a different relationship to our local environment. One thing we can do is to begin buying locally and eating locally – as the “New World Order” collapses we will have to depend our local support system – the big corporations won’t be here to support us, but our local farmers will, if they have not gone out of business

Acting Locally

One of the most valuable ways to do this is to grow your own garden.

During the two World Wars of the last century, we acted locally by growing so-called “Victory Gardens” or “War Gardens.” These gardens helped significantly, providing sustenance for millions by reducing pressure on the public food supply that was brought on by the global war effort. Perhaps our gardens can save us again.

An important step in the Treatment Plan to make things better globally would be for more of us to start growing a garden locally. Now.

Why? I’m glad you asked.

One reason might be the fact that so many more people are doing it, and that the global food price index at an all-time high – and going up, and there are food riots throughout the world. In 2009, 38 percent of the people in the U.S. (41 million households) planted a vegetable garden. An American Gardening Association survey showed a 19 percent increase from 2008 to 2009 in new hobby country farms and urban edible gardens.

Why Grow A Garden?

My Garden

The main reason most people gave for increasing or maintaining edible gardening last year was to supplement household food supply — to help save money on food. And if “locally grown” is important to you, there is nothing more local than food grown in your own backyards, windowsills, or patio containers.

Furthermore, if eating in a healthy and organic way is important to you, growing your own fruits and vegetables means that you know exactly what does and does not go into your food and exactly where it comes from.

Growing your own will make you healthier because not only will you eat more fruits and vegetables (let’s face it, few of us eat as many of these as we should), you will be getting the best kind of exercise, the green kind. Studies show that in 45 minutes of gardening, you can burn as many calories as in 30 minutes of aerobics.

What’s more, diverting your mind to the nurturing of life reduces stress and will make you more creative when you do go back the challenges in your life.

And if you have kids or grand kids, you have a green opportunity to help them make the fascinating discovery that their food actually does not come from the supermarket but from Mother Earth. What better way for them to learn how important it is to protect her?

Even if you are in a city, you can build a raised garden bed and get your garden started!

To learn more about how you can support a sustainable food system, check out the article “ Healthier Food for the New Year “.

For an experiential program specifically to help you develop a holistic perspective and positive motivation towards global healing, check out Healing Our Planet and Deep Healing the Universe .

Shine On!

The Activist Heart: A Portriat of Ocean Robbins co-founder of Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!)

Ocean Robbins In this broadcast of Healing Times Radio I am pleased to introduce you to one of the folks whose work is making a real difference in the world, and who is dedicated to helping others discover how they can make a difference as well. In a world where the new mantra seems to be “we’re all screwed now,” such voices as those of Ocean Robbins are sorely needed. He’s the founder and director of YES!, an organization dedicated to “helping visionary young leaders build a better world.”

Play this radio show at the end of this post!

On the show you’ll learn what inspired that seven year old boy who organized a peace rally in his elementary school in Santa Cruz, California, who at the age of ten opened Ocean’s Natural Bakery where he served as baker, salesman, and accountant to hundreds of customers in his neighborhood. We’ll learn about how his relationship with his father, John Robbins (author of the bestselling book “Diets For A New America”) inspired him, and helped him discover the extraordinary power of acceptance and how it inspires the work of YES! (Youth for Environmental Sanity) which is bringing together youth leaders from around the world creating a network that truly contains the seeds for global transformation.

We’ll also take a look at the cutting edge of Ocean’s current work – what’s growing within him now – the importance of political diversity – changing our political conversation from one of toxic polarity to one of inclusiveness – and how the acceptance, respect, and appreciation for the political views of others can create a new world for us all. He will share with us how he approaches the challenges of his two special needs twin boys and even a bit about his father’s new book, “The New Good Life – Living Even Better In A New Age of Less,” which he headed and has just been released.

As the Chinese said, if you’re thinking a year ahead, sow seed. If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you’re thinking one-hundred years ahead, educate the people. Ocean Robbins has much to teach us about how to do this.

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• Healing Times Radio airs the 1st Thursday of each month, 11am-12pm and is rebroadcast on the 3rd Thursday 12pm-1p at OpenMindRadio.com

Listen to Archives of past Healing Times Radio Conversations

Listen or subscribe to Healing Times Radio in iTunes !

• Subscribe to Healing Times Radio and make sure you don’t miss another show!

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Click the ‘Play’ button below to listen!

Conversations Skills and Tips – How to Navigate Difficult Conversations

While your attention is focused on the new year (reflecting on and reaffirming positive experiences of 2010 , remembering to write ’11 on your checks so they don’t bounce, etc.), right now is the best time to express your willingness to come together with others, to heal wounded relationships, and perhaps to have some of those challenging conversations you have avoided all year. No need to destroy the mood of the season, though – you can set the intention and even make an appointment to set aside some quality “face time” next month.

5 Conversation Skills and Tips for how to navigate difficult conversations:

1. Allow yourself to believe that others in the conversation desire a closer, warmer, more creative, productive, and loving relationship.
2. Listen to understand, not to prepare rebuttals. The majority of relationship difficulties result from inadequate understanding.
3. Assumptions are the termites of relationships. Remember, when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and Me.
4. Listen together for patterns, insights, common values, and deeper questions.
5. Always be on the lookout for wholeness, connection, and shared interests, what do you have in common?

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Want more Conversation Skills/Tips? On what topics? Let me know in the comments section below!

More about Conversations:

Conversations that Matter – a conversation with Juanita Brown PhD

New Paradigm Leader – The Power of Good Conversation

Election Report from Under the Bus with Obama

I, probably just like you, asked myself “Why did Obama lose all that support in the recent election?” The response was a curious one indeed – it came in the form of a little history lesson.

During the Second World War, when open racial segregation was the rule, battalions of African-American men were sent into combat in some of the most hellish battles in Europe – often those where unacceptably high casualties were expected. They performed admirably, often turning in startling victories.

But, even if you were alive at that time you probably never knew this: as soon as the battle had been won and it was safe, the army brass quickly shipped out the blacks under cover of night, and white troops were shipped in, so that when the reporters and newsreel cameras arrived, they were greeted by the tanks and trucks filled the apparently victorious white faces and freshly dirtied uniforms. And this was not the exception; it was the rule. That was then.

Today’s War
Now the battle is at home, where our country (and the world) has suffered great damage in the wake of a financial crisis that had its very clear roots in the greed, dishonesty and manipulation – in the immense Ponzi scheme that was our economy. It was like a big game of economic musical chairs: you have to risk investment or watch inflation eat your hard-earned retirement capital and everyone knew that it made sense to take out a mortgage on a house – the equity always increases (after all – they are not making any more land!). Then, suddenly, the music stops and you don’t have a chair to sit in, and you are not alone. In fact, there are millions of others who suddenly discovered they had no chair, no job, and no homes.

So here we were, faced with a rapidly collapsing economy, job losses of nearly a million a month, a credit crisis of a degree not seen since 1930, and on the verge of having a nation-wide runs on the banks. To let this continue was definitely a no-win scenario. Essentially every responsible economist counseled the necessity of bailing out the economy to forestall unthinkable disaster – and yet the only way to do this was to take out a big mortgage on the future. Who would want to be responsible?

The deal offered was “No questions asked, just give us the money and we’ll take care of everything and you’re not allowed to sue us or hold us responsible for anything!” We didn’t do exactly that, but we were pretty much forced to do something not too far away from it.
And this was only the first shoe to fall, and we were living underneath a boot-wearing octopus. One after another, the dominoes toppled – bankers voted themselves huge bonuses, credit became unavailable, unemployment insurance had to be extended, the housing market went into a coma . . . the great Colossus became a moribund nation in a moribund planet needing injections of stimulus capital.

Where the Buck Stops
Yes, it was a crisis, one of the biggest battles we’ve ever faced. There was a lot that needed to be done – and it needed to be done quickly. We needed a leader who could act decisively – there was no time for the nation to come to a consensus – or at least that’s what we were led to believe.

Into the breach stepped a new president, Barack Obama, who bravely threw himself into the fray, stemming the loss of jobs and shoring up the financial system. What a fine figure he cut, this young black man, riding in on celestial clouds of hope and change – the nation’s Great White Hope.

Private Ryan could not have more bravely and resolutely thrown himself on the grenade, protecting us from its blast, while blowing his re-election chances to smithereens.
Then, what’s that I hear? I hear a bugle blowing and lo, here comes a battalion of white faces riding in beneath “mad as hell” banners, ready to take credit for our continued existence. Meanwhile, the fellow whose courage may be the most important factor in our continued existence and the stabilized global economy is vilified as a Nazi Socialist Muslim – and who some actually believe to be the anti-Christ!

Why do I have the feeling I’ve seen this movie before?

New Paradigm Leadership – The Power of Conversation

Adapted from Our Culture On The Couch, Seven Steps to Global Healing

Creating a positive future begins in human conversation. The simplest and most powerful investment any member of a community or an organization may make in renewal is to begin talking with other people as though the answers mattered.

– From Who Will Tell the People? by William Greider

Consider for a moment the importance of conversation. Virtually every action we take is predicated on a conversation. It is so much a part of our experience that we are rarely aware of its true importance. The conversations we engage in with our families, organizations and in all portions of our lives give rise to patterns of behavior. Sometimes these are brief conversations whose effects are short-lived, sometimes the conversations are deep and moving, and their effects are stable and long lasting.

By learning to pay attention to our conversation, and acquiring the skills of good conversation, we bring about ever-greater degrees of coherence. As a result, we obtain a high correlation between what effect we intend to have and the effect we actually get. We must always keep in mind that the future is not somewhere we are going; it is a place we are creating in the now with every thought, word and action.
High quality conversations among individuals and within organizations generate meaningful change. Conversations are an important way to actively participate in creating our world and its future through this process of connecting authentically and appreciatively with each other. As we share knowledge, know-how and creativity, we build relationships. Collaborative conversations between us “neurons” are the synapses of the Global Brain.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. – Albert Einstein

For as long as humanity has lived in family groups, tribes and communities, conversation has been a primary medium for making sense of our world, discovering what we value, and imagining our future. The networks of communication formed the underlying pattern that allowed our ancestors to come together in a meaningful, supportive, sustainable way. Networks form the underlying pattern of all living systems, and human organizations, families, and communities – are living systems.
Wise leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the power of these networks of conversation and their systemic importance as a core process for the large-scale collective learning and transformative change we now need at every level of system.
New Paradigm leaders recognize that essential learning and knowledge sharing occurs through informal relationships and networks of conversation. The new role for today’s leader focuses on convening and hosting collaborative conversations among diverse stakeholders to explore core questions and emerging possibilities. Key skills include being able to create the appropriate architecture of engagement and then asking compelling questions, questions that encourage collective thinking and learning.
As the system connects to itself in diverse and creative ways, Collective Intelligence emerges – we access the wisdom of the whole on behalf of the whole. Often, as we allow our collective wisdom to emerge, we discover that we already have the answers we need.
So, what if, in fact, the future is not some place we are going, but a place we are creating, and that our individual and collective future is being born in the webs of conversation that are alive and breathing right now? This includes the conversations within TEA Party rallies and those taking place in Wall Street boardrooms, and those taking place in your living room. Then the future will be the integrated sum of all these.

What we need are those leaders who can create ways for us to enter conversations around questions that address our shared meanings and values and that honor all participants. Modern communication technologies provide excellent tools for creating the conversations we need to be having. These include Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space Technologies.

The World Café
The approach to facilitating conversation I have used most extensively is represented by The World Café. Originally developed and stewarded by Dr. Juanita Brown and David Isaacs and their associates, is a nonprofit, community-owned venture that is a “conversational process based on a set of integrated design principles that reveal a deeper living network pattern through which we co-evolve our collective future.”
The café model represents an innovative yet simple methodology for gathering groups of 12 or more people together to create conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work or community. As a process, The World Café can evoke and make visible the collective intelligence of any group, thus increasing people’s capacity for effective action in pursuit of common aims.
The deceptively simple principles of café groups are nevertheless powerful. Often when groups get together they are dominated by the talkative people with loud voices, individuality tends to be seen as an impediment, people are busy trying to one-up, recruit, convince, or debate others in the group. Now consider the different kinds of things that can happen when people follow the guidelines of the “Café Etiquette:”

Learn More

Listen to a stimulating discussion between myself and The World Café co-founder, Dr. Juanita Brown on Healing Times Radio . The World Café website provides complete information that will allow you to apply powerful tools for intentionally harnessing the power of conversation for any purpose, business or social. You will discover useful guidance – ways to foster authentic dialogue in which the goal is thinking together to bring forth collective wisdom and create actionable knowledge. And it is free.
At their website, you will also find a way to begin to network with the thousands of other people, groups and organizations who are exploring ways to evoke collective intelligence and link it to effective action in pursuit of common aims.

We Are All Neurons in the Global Brain
In a very real sense, we are all neurons in a global living system, a global brain – and the communications technology we have, from our cell phones to our internet connections forms the axons that connect us across the world with others. Personal computing is giving way to interpersonal computing. Now we can reach across geographic boundaries and access community knowledge bases, including the resource bank of each person’s unique contributions, interests and areas of expertise. In keeping with this, the members of the World Café are currently involved in a pioneering use of a variety of experimental platforms to create the optimal conditions for holding meaningful conversation in an online environment.
Of course, The World Cafe is just one of a number of different approaches to addressing the living network of conversations that is continually evolving as we explore questions that matter with our family, friends, colleagues and community. These invisible webs of dialogue and personal relationships can enable us to learn, create shared purpose, and shape life-affirming futures together. Others include Conversation Cafes , and Open Space . Younger networkers will find Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) and Global Youth Action Network quite stimulating. An excellent example of how a community has transformed itself using the principles we are exploring here is revealed at .
We will explore more on leadership and good conversation in future articles here.

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More Information:

Listen to Dr. Miller and Juanita Brown Ph.D. in conversation on Healing Times Radio!

Video Introduction to The World Cafe , by Emmett Miller MD

Find me in the World Cafe Online Community at: http://www.theworldcafecommunity.org/profile/EmmettMillerMD

Listen to Healing Times Radio the 1st Thursday of the month, 11am-12pm and Rebroadcasts the following Monday 1pm-2pm at OpenMindRadio.com

OR

Subscribe (with iTunes or with web-based podcatchers ) to Healing Times Radio Archives and make sure you don’t miss another show!

Conversations that Matter – Dr. Miller and Juanita Brown on Healing Times Radio

Listen to this interview at the end of this article.


As you probably know from my recent book, Our Culture On The Couch – Seven Steps to Global Healing , I believe the only way out of our current mess is for us to stop being controlled by our world, but to bring forth the leadership potential within each of us.

So, this month we will focus on awakening this leader, on the power of the New Paradigm, and explore the potential of conversation as a transformative tool to leverage personal wisdom and spirit.

Juanita Brown Ph.D. with her partner, David Isaacs is the co-originator of The World Café, a pioneering approach to large scale dialogue and collaborative inquiry being used in corporate, community, government, education, and multi-stakeholder settings around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of people on six continents have experienced the World Café to foster sustainable development, responsible business futures, conflict resol…ution, democratic leadership, and local community engagement around critical issues. Her award-winning book, The World Café: Shaping our Futures through Conversations that Matter, co-authored with her partner David Isaacs and the World Café Community has been translated into 10 languages, and has recently been released in mainland China.

Juanita developed her belief in the power of conversation and community to shape the future through her early years at the Na-Bolom Institute, a center for dialogue and action on indigenous issues and rainforest preservation in Chiapas, Mexico. Juanita was also a key architect in large-scale community development and outreach work with Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement. She has applied her discoveries about the principles for building engaged communities to the co-evolution of the World Café as social innovation––using both living systems approaches and community development sensibilities to engage a growing global network of multi-generational hosts committed to creating collaborative dialogue and committed action around critical local, national and global issues.

Since 1974, Juanita has collaborated as a strategic thinking partner with senior corporate executives as well as non-profit leaders in the U.S., Latin America, Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim, advising on large scale change intiatives and creating innovative forums for strategic dialogue around critical organizational and societal issues. Juanita is a Fellow of the World Business Academy and has served as a Senior Affiliate with both the MIT Center for Organizational Learning (now the Society for Organizational Learning) and the Institute for the Future. Her greatest joy, however, is when she finds herself alone in nature on the shores of Tomales Bay, California listening to the loons and seeing the white pelicans floating quietly through the mist.

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Stages of American National Grief

Stages of American National Grief
The progression of stages of national grief is:

  1. Denial < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial > – “The country is fine.”; “Signs of decline are overblown by unpatriotic people.”
  2. Denial is usually only a temporary defense but while it is operative it is filled with rhetoric like, “Let’s take our country back to the way it was” which is largely a mythological construct of something that never was – a Norman Rockwell view of nationhood.
  3. Anger < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anger > – “Why us? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to us?”; “We are the greatest nation ever.” “Who is to blame?”
  4. Once in the second stage, the citizen recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the nation is very difficult to care for, think clearly about or to make plans for its future due to feelings of rage. Looking for scapegoats becomes a preoccupation.
  5. Bargaining < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bargaining > – “I will do anything to bring back the memory of what is an ‘exceptional’ nation. “God has established it with a unique destiny and surely he won’t let it die.” “I will pray to the Almighty who founded this country to rescue it from those who are out to destroy it.”
  6. The third stage involves the hope that the demise of the national identity can somehow be postponed or delayed. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life of that which has been known is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed and ideological pure state. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand that the nation as it has been constructed is dying, but if I could just have more time to live the way it was…”
  7. Depression < > – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “The nation as I know it is going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss so much the American myths of a country that used to be, why go on?”
  8. During the fourth stage, the individual begins to understand the certainty of death of the national idea. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse to associate with others or read the paper or keep up with the news and spend much of the time grieving. This process allows the person to disconnect oneself from attachments and affection for the underlying myths of what s/he believed to be his or her homeland.
  9. Acceptance < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptance > – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
  10. In this last stage, the citizen begins to come to terms with the mortality of not the nation but the national idea as it has been and begins to think of how the nation might be if it was less absorbed with itself and its excessive individualistic mythology and more concerned with using its assets to fully serve by participating in an international, global understanding of its role. It is the beginning of creativity and new opportunity.

But for now, it seems, we are stuck between rage (TEA Partiers) and helplessness (Liberals)

thanks to Bruce Vincent for this clever bit

They say there are just two kinds of people in the world, those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.

As a case in point, the world can be divided into two groups of people: those who see the world as divided neatly into Us vs. Them (Either/Or) – and those who do not.

Those in the camp who do not see the world as Us vs. Them instead see a whole spectrum of information, wisdom, knowledge, and power that comes from the perspective of Both/And.

More specifically, international crises caused by Greece, the banking industry, and BP Oil (to name just a few) have shown us two elemental forces are at work, each represented by its own camp of “true believers.”

Each of these two camps is fueled by a deeper guide/pilot. In Our Culture On the Couch: Seven Steps to Global Healing , I have referred to the side that sees only differentiation, opposites, fragmentation, prejudice, conflict and dis-integration as Violence (with a capital V), and the other side, the one that sees and favors unification, similarities, wholeness, tolerance, cooperation and integration as Love (with a capital L).

The epic struggle between these two elemental forces can be seen everywhere, from the Monsanto brouhaha and the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf ( see the spill superimposed on your city , to that between Israel and the Arab world, to that between the Far Left and the Far Right in our country.

The Far Right tells us this is a world of great danger, that we need to be stern, and to use deadly force and extreme rendition in order to get what we, the “In Crowd,” want, no matter how extravagant, how wasteful, how unfair and unequal. The Far Left often threatens to be foolishly naïve, economically irrespsonsible, tolerant of civil chaos, and would politically empower people in the underclasses, minorities, and welfare queens.

Each has its power base and wages war on the other. The confrontations are often violent, even at the highest levels of government, religion, business and media. (here RFK Jr. speaks to the death of democracy at the hands of media)

This Struggle Is Within Each of Us As Well

We can easily see these forces at war on the global stage, but if we look within, we discover the same conflict within each of us.

This then, is a philosophical struggle, a war of basic beliefs as to the nature of the world. Most of us fail to see the struggle within ourselves, because we have been hypnotized by the media to think that someone else is to blame – that the problem is out there. We have been trained to believe we are helpless as individuals. We have been so brainwashed that we do not even see that we have the ability to change the belief that we are helpless.

Our beliefs are behaviors, just like our thoughts and our emotions. And the truth is if we want to, we can change our beliefs. We don’t have to continue to believe and act according to some outside authority that is telling us to believe and do things that go against the common good. We don’t have to believe that it is OK to be a racist, sexist, and/or a religious bigot. We don’t have to suppress, torture, or even kill those who  have been labeled “Other.”

We can – if we want to – approach others with respect, acknowledgement and willingness to look for mutual values. Moreover, we can work together toward common goals and visions.

In one side of our hearts, we find a distinct set of emotions that are arousing, negative and intense in valence – anxiety, fear, greed, anger – in short, Violence. In this worldview, we see the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual violence that fills our news reports from locally and around the world. This serves to reinforce the Either/Or core belief.

On the other side of our hearts, if we look within, we see the world through the Both/And perspective that always seeks to open the door to the possibility of tolerance, acceptance and respect. This door leads to the ability to create peace, balance, a profound sense of oneness, and even Love.

The only kind of peace present in the Either/Or paradigm is the temporary calm between wars, arguments and conflicts.  True peace is only achievable when we embrace the Both/And paradigm (which, somewhat paradoxically includes Either/Or). Peace will only happen when we, in my nomenclature, embrace Love (as I have defined it in my book).

Models

Interestingly, those individuals who model this attitude and perspective of Love are those individuals who have devoted some part of their time to meditation, contemplation and more enlightened thought.

They include current-day teachers and masters as well as those we know through the sacred teachings of the major religions – Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna and others. (Of course, I am careful to point out the dramatic difference between their lifestyles and their words – and reject the distortions promulgated by so many of the religious cults that have disgraced and betrayed their prophets).

It’s the System, Stupid

Unfortunately, it appears that most of the world is choosing to ignore or misinterpret these teachings. Everywhere we see lies and polarization, abuse and Violence. We keep looking for that person or group to blame, but we always fail. This is because the illness we want to cure is systemic – the bad guy is not a person, but the System as a whole – the Matrix.

The shenanigans that took place when we tried to find the cause of the BP oil spill provided a demonstration that would have been laughable, if it were not being played out in terms of the human and environmental suffering the spill is creating in towns along the Gulf Coast. First we are told that 5,000 gallons per day are leaking out. Then a week later that it is actually 10, 000 gallons, then 20,000, and now 60,000 per day!

And who is at fault? BP said it was not their fault, because they had hired the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and crew, and it was they who screwed up. Deepwater in turn said it was Halliburton that was last working on sealing the well when it blew.

The Republicans say it was Obama’s fault for not being “on the job.” The Democrats say it was the result of Bush Cheney & Co. and their cozy relationship with the oil companies. And defying all logic, Rush Limbaugh blames the environmentalists . Meanwhile, the environmentalists blame us all for the expensive, energy intensive lifestyle we are living.

While finger-pointing and blaming are the staple of the Either/Or Us. vs. Them faction, the reality is that we are all to blame because we are all part of the System.

Partisan Wrangling

Do people really think they are helping anyone but themselves and their special interest group by perpetuating partisan wrangling?

We see the truth. All that saber rattling and foot dragging is just the floor show designed to keep us hypnotized and distracted while the treasury is looted and the middle class is liquidated to the profit of the few and the misery of the many.

Do they think we are blind to the Violence induced by the behaviors of our supposed leaders? How much clearer an example do we need?

One of the clearest examples is the series of events that have culminated in death threats and bricks being thrown through the windows of Congressional Representatives and Senators. Politicians, talk show hosts and insurance company executives may not personally chuck the bricks and make the threatening phone calls, but they are a vital part of the system that is responsible. Yet we seem incapable of seeing this or doing anything about this systemic problem.

History provides an excellent teaching moment. In 1170, Thomas Beckett, archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by four of King Henry’s knights. Beckett had been in ideological conflict with Henry II, whose frustration reached a climax when he yelled out in fury, “Who will free me from this turbulent priest?”

The knights answered him by their action. Clearly, Henry II never struck a blow or thrust a knife, yet it is clear that he was directly responsible.

How then can we conceptualize, and assign blame, when the bricks and death threats follow closely on the heels of a major politician publishing a map on her website with the hometowns of these members of Congress branded with rifle crosshairs, accompanied by a speech exhorting, “Don’t retreat, reload”? Immediately following her implicit call to Violence, there appeared another webpage urging people to toss bricks through their living room windows. ( click here to learn more )

This is a classic example of the systemic problem that arises strictly from the Us vs. Them paradigm we are using – it is systemic, and it seems no one is willing to take responsibility for it. The politician did not throw bricks. The fellow who put up the Facebook page never, himself, threw any bricks. Those individuals who threw the bricks are unknown. A perfect storm. Terrorism without a perpetrator.

These false prophets and false leaders can remain in power only as long as we are willing to let them. We need to find – and become – leaders who can see and seek wholeness and healing. And we must always be wary of those whose primary agenda is based on making us afraid and polarized. We are all in this boat together – and poking holes in our adversaries’ end of the boat will sink us too.

Change Begins Within

As usual, the changes start within. How well are you doing with avoiding unnecessary judgment, criticism, blame and anger – both toward yourself and toward others?

How can you express more Love in how you treat yourself, your environment, and those in your family, community and workplace? What candidates will you support or vote for? Which corporations will you buy products from?

What you learn from your own personal shift to Love will enable you to better recognize those candidates for leadership who are able to step back from the fray and see the system as a whole.

Only when we elect and become those leaders can we bring forth the creativity – and courage – we need to truly solve our national and global problems. We must not only do this for ourselves, but for the generations to follow.


We have been misled, and now it is time to look within, as presented in Awakening the Leader Within . Helpful in this process is the CD program, Abolish Anxiety Now! , because it is through anxiety and the temporary solutions we are offered that we are controlled by the System. we need to let go the anxiety so we can find the courage to face our problems, not deny them. The skills offered on The Serenity Prayer are useful in learning the balance we need to choose well.

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