Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Getting to the "How" - What this Blog Is All About!

I have not been a fan of Adam Kokesh. I was not enthusiastic about his posturing, and potentially threatening if not outright violent behavior. Early this year he was calling for "The Final American Revolution," including an armed march on Washington D.C. This demonstration was ultimately reduced to his simply carrying and loading his own shotgun at Freedom Plaza and then posting a video of it on YouTube. He was later arrested, and then spent a couple of months in solitary confinement in Fairfax, VA, followed by another couple of months in solitary in Washington, D.C., and yet another two months with the general population incarcerated with him in D.C.

Today I watched this conversation between Adam and Stefan Molyneux and at the 1:34:00 point, Stefan questions what the benefits were of his being incarcerated.

I'd like to pose an answer to that question: It gave him a lot of time to be alone and think, hard. And although I have not familiarized myself with everything he might of said before, I appreciate a lot of what he had to offer in this interview. I see him looking much more globally at how all kinds of different people are going to be affected by the kinds of changes so many of us want to see in the world. I see him cognizant and very reasonable about both immediate and long-term possibilities and goals. And, now, I am quite happy to include this video as part of my offering of ideas here focused not on just "describing the problems", but on actually coming up with solutions; i.e. the "How" that Adam discusses in this conversation with Stefan.

I still think they both should be taking a look at Paul K. Chappell's work, because Paul offers a much clearer perspective on the violent/aggressive vs. cooperative nature of human beings. I will be bringing that to their attention whenever I can.

In the mean time, I offer this video dialogue For Your Consideration as well. Enjoy!

How to Move Forward to Create a Peaceful Society Based on the Principle of Non-Aggression - A Discussion between Adam Kokesh and Stefan Molyneux

Monday, October 28, 2013

Russell Brand, Dylan Ratigan, Stefan Molyneux, Paul Chappell

This video of Russell Brand went viral recently: NEWSNIGHT: Paxman vs Brand - full interview.

And then Dylan Ratigan posted this article in response to another of Brand's videos: The Unoffendable Brand

For this post I'd like to also draw attention to another of Dylan Ratigan's recent articles that, among other things, presents an option for changing the way candidates are elected by giving every person a $200 voucher with which they can funnel their support:  Thousands of Stories of Hope, One Barrier and How We Can Overcome It

Then there's this video from Stefan Molyneux: An Open Letter to Russell Brand - Let's Start a Revolution

And, another recent post of a previous article written by Molyneux: The Stateless Society - An Examination of Alternatives

What I am offering here are perspectives on "the problems" as well as some "solutions" being offered, with more or less detail, by all three of these people.

I think in some ways at least, these perspectives do represent many of the different points of view from which people might see the problems and imagine their possible solutions.

(I guess the one I have not included is anything from Adam Kokesh as his aggressive posturing is archaic to me as well as simply being strategically foolish, and besides, haven't seen much of him lately anyway.  Gee, I wonder why?)

There is also the ongoing work of Paul K. Chappell, former Army Captain and now author and Peace Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Although he does not offer any specific solutions to the problems outlined above, he does offer guidance for how we might resolve these problems and conflicts non-violently, in part by learning to respect one another and communicate more effectively with others, including those who oppose our point of view.  He puts a lot of emphasis on empathy in his writing and this is also highlighted in another recent piece  by Ratigan and in two podcasts by Molyneux:  Negotiation Part 1: The Opportunity, and Negotiation Part 2: The Challenges.

I am offering all of these links here because I feel all of these men are deep thinkers, eloquent communicators, and clearly passionate about their work in the world. They are, however, looking at the problems and seeing the solutions, or trying to contribute to the solutions in different ways. I am in the process of considering all of their contributions, and I want to present these ideas to others as well here on this specifically solution-oriented blog.

I will leave it up to my readers to come to their own conclusions about the plausibility and actionability of their recommendations, with the understanding that there are many conflicts to be resolved both on the interpersonal, community, national, and global levels.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thoughts on Negotiation

Over the past several months I have tried as often as I could to tune-in to Stefan Molyneux's Sunday Call-in Show via his website Freedomain Radio. It is kind of a cool format, you can listen to the broadcast and add comments or discuss other things that come up in the chat room.

During one of these broadcasts, Stefan made the point that by having very rational discussions with his still very young daughter (I think she may be three now), he was giving her lots of opportunities to practice negotiating.

This really intrigued me and I have recently listened to a two part discussion he presented on the topic:

Negotiation Part 1: The Opportunity

Negotiation Part 2: The Challenges

Sometimes, I think Stefan can be a bit rough in the way he presents his material, but, as with these talks, he really left me with some things to think about.

First of all: Most children are raised with a "win-lose" perspective/experience of "negotiation", in that, they are usually at the mercy of their parents' will, with or without any kind of rational justification or guidance for each incidence of conflict. As Stefan explains, this is, therefore, the "equation" they internalize.

Furthermore, although they may not have much choice in these matters as children, by the time they start to become adults, part of their accumulation of power, whatever form it takes, is all too often primarily directed towards "turning the tables", so that where they were once on the "losing" side of the "win-lose" equation, they can now cross over to the "winning" side. (But, of course, that means other people with whom they relate have to become the "losers" which ultimately does not support long-term, healthy, functional relationships.)

As Stefan points out in Part I of this talk, negotiation occurs in the context of certain realities: a) Everyone has needs and wants they wish to fulfill, b) The needs and wants of individuals do not always coincide, in fact, they very rarely coincide. In addition, from his point of view, negotiation is ultimately a creative process; i.e. two individuals come together, one is focused on accomplishing "Plan A" the other is focused on accomplishing "Plan B" and these two plans do not coincide. In order for negotiation to be truly effective, the two parties have to be able to come up with "Plan X" which is a New Plan that turns out to be better and ultimately more desirable to both parties than either "Plan A" or "Plan B". This is what he defines as a truly creative, "win-win" negotiation.

He goes on to explain how critical one's capacity for empathy is to being able to carry out these kinds of "win-win" negotiations. For instance, if you do not know what is really motivating someone to want "Plan A" or "Plan B", then you will have difficulty coming up with a suitable alternative, something that might meet their needs even better than "Plan A" or "Plan B". In some ways, you have to know them better than they know themselves to come up with a "Plan X" that is going to appeal to them beyond what they have already come up with for themselves.

Stefan also points out how people with low self-esteem, people who have internalized the "win-lose" scenarios of childhood, almost always feel threatened when faced by the challenge to negotiate with others in this creative way. First of all, "losing" for a child is traumatizing and humiliating, and adults who have not worked through those experiences are likely to feel the threat of "losing" or being humiliated that much more, in part because they know they are adults and that they should be over such concerns already, as well as because it does not take much to shift them into that place of feeling vulnerable and helpless, just like they were as children. Secondly, trying to engage them in truly creative negotiations with which they have little if any experience, quickly brings to light their inabilities, their inadequacies in this area. And finally, it is simply very difficult to give up the deeply internalized "win-lose" equation, as it feels like one is giving up their power for which they may have been working to gain all of their adult lives, ultimately to have power over others in the same way their parents had power over them.

I've never been a big fan of Thucydides, who authored the time-honored maxim of international relations when he wrote about the Peloponnesian War and characterized all such conflicts as a "struggle for power". But, if Stefan is right, and the seeds of such struggles are planted in childhood, where the child is so often forced to play the role of "loser" to their parents and other adults as "winners", then I can see how his observations are "true" in that they reflect this pattern that is being unconsciously repeated from generation to generation.

However, that doesn't mean it Always has to be that way. With enough understanding, with enough education, with enough adults learning to more effectively deal with their own childhood traumas before passing that legacy onto their children, we could learn to become better negotiators, and we could teach future generations of children to be better negotiators as well.

In that case, the struggle would be to challenge our individual and collective capacities to solve conflicts more creatively, to negotiate to find "Plan X" where we only start out with "Plan A" and "Plan B". First and foremost, though, it really is important to see how pervasive our "win-lose" thinking and politicing is right now, both on the national and international fronts as well as closer to home. How quickly do activist groups fall into chaos because each individual is working from that internally driven "win-lose" equation, of which they may not even be consciously aware?

Nevertheless, human beings are obviously some of The Most Creative Beings On This Planet! If anything, that is our Shared Power and it increases synergistically when people are able to combine their creative problem-solving efforts. That, too, is happening all the time, especially in fields of industry. However, it is in the field of closer, interpersonal relationships, that our most human frailties and vulnerabilities are accentuated. Consequently, where our technological development has raced forward, there is still much more work to be done if we are going to move our human socio-cultural development forward as well, and it starts with parents and other adults giving children more opportunities to practice the skills and art of Creative Negotiation.