Tag Archives: chalice and the blade

Moving Towards Circles of Equals

In my previous piece, “Defining the Circle of Equals”, I laid out what I see as the basic principles that define this more progressive and highly-evolved (at least in my opinion) than the hierarchical model for organizing institutions in our society. A model based on the the respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person (which also happens to be a key foundational principle of Unitarian-Universalism). As a follow-up I feel it is important to call out some of the ways we can work to support and facilitate our historic transition from a more hierarchical society to one based on egalitarianism and partnership between people.

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The End of Management

In a bit of personal synchronicity, my partner Sally pointed out that the latest edition of the wonderfully positive Ode magazine (which bills itself as a “community of intelligent optimists”) has an excerpt from Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. It is the same Daniel Pink who does the impassioned voice-over for the 11-minute YouTube video I highlighted in my previous blog piece. With all the handwringing and anger around corporate greed and its consequences (e.g. the BP oil spill and the misadventures of the American financial industry that contributed to our “Great Recession”), it’s nice to be able to report a positive movement happening in the corporate world, still on the periphery and off the radar, perhaps just waiting for the “hundredth monkey” (at least metaphorically) to become a full-blown trend.

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Much More & Much Less Than a Boss

Events happen every day reminding me that I am living in times of profound transition. A couple weeks ago something happened at my work that was a harbinger of a continuing cultural transition from hierarchy to a circle of equals, from patriarchy to partnership, from power-over to power-with, or from directive to facilitative leadership… however you want to frame it.

I have been at my current workplace for over a year now, and I work with a great group of people and have a very progressive and egalitarian team manager. I’d call him the more colloquial “boss”, but many of the standard connotations of that term do not fit this person at all. In the anecdote I want to highlight in this piece, he led us through an exercise the other day that is typical of how he approaches his job but is stunning in terms of your typical hierarchical corporate culture.

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The Politics of Half-Full or Half-Empty

It seems to me that any discussion about what it’s going to take to move the human race forward on its evolutionary path (which is what life is all about as far as I can see) needs to start with a basic question. Is our glass half-full or half-empty; do we live in a world of abundance or scarcity? For 5000 years (at least according to Riane Eisler’s book The Chalice and the Blade) we have framed the world in terms of scarcity. Not enough food to feed everybody. Not enough of the superior “us” to resist and/or control all of the inferior “them” (however “them” is defined in any locale in any given moment in history). This has led to what, by conventional wisdom, is generally framed as an imperative (but I think is a choice) to adopt a human society based on a hierarchy of control that is often described as Patriarchy, rather than the profoundly different societal model called Partnership. Continue reading →

The Chalice & the Blade

In the early 1990s I read a book that, more so than anything I had read before or since, transformed the way I look at the world and helped me distill and inspired me to pursue my life’s purpose. The book is The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, a feminist, activist and futurist with degrees in sociology and law from the University of California. Born in Vienna, Austria, her family fled from the Nazis to Cuba when she was a child, and she later emigrated to the United States where she continues to live and work today. Continue reading →

Baby Steps toward Democratic Education: Advice if not Consent

In advocating for more democratic schools in a recent post as a way of identifying problems as they are emerging rather than after the fact, I realize that the concept of democratically run schools, whether run solely by adults or in conjunction with student youths, is a radical concept. As I understand the typical conventional school model today, the governance is much more hierarchical, starting at the state level where basic school structure and policy is set. Continue reading →