Tag Archives: egalitarianism

Living a Self-Directed Life One Week at a Time

Human society is gradually transitioning from hierarchies of domination and control towards egalitarian circles of equals. At least that’s my take on things, and my “life’s work” including this writing that I do is all about bearing witness to and championing that transition. A critical aspect of moving away from other people (including ones employer) controlling your life, is to develop the ability to exercise that control yourself instead. So moving beyond the realm of just an abstract philosophical discussion I want to talk about how I try to make this a reality in my own day to day life.

What I’ve learned over an almost six decade span of this life is to essentially “create my own reality” (a mainstay of new-age thinking) as a key part of directing my continuing life and development. Nowhere is my creation more evident these days than in how I am able to build most of my weeks to meet my unique mix of needs to be productive, have fun, maintain my health, and generally live a balanced life. Each week is a seven-day “opus” mainly written and wholly performed by me. Each week includes some regular facilitating rituals, but hopefully enough variety as well to make each a unique expression of who I am becoming and the worldview I champion.

I have not come to this point easily or without much personal development of my own sense of agency and how I manage my interactions with others, including my supervisors and other colleagues at work. I have been working in the corporate world for over twenty years, and my current comfort level with that sort of work environment has been learned incrementally over those years.

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Seeking the Essence of Unitarian-Universalism

nullIn her blog piece “Love is More Important than Freedom”, Unitarian-Universalist minister Victoria Weinstein writes…

It has come time for Unitarian Universalists to admit that we have honored free thought over love as an institutional commitment, and to consider the possibility that our obsession with personal freedom of belief has caused our organizations spiritual harm. We have developed a congregational culture that honors intellectual dominance over love and tenderness. We are brilliantly conversant when voicing opinion, but do not know how to engage each other as vulnerable persons in need of hope, grace and healing, leaving it to the self-identified victims in our congregations to motivate and then control most discussion of what it means to love, to welcome and to accept.

There are probably less than 700,000 “UUs” in the United States today (I among them), and not much more than a million in the entire world, and the denomination has soul-searched over the last several decades to find the missing keys to significant growth. The denomination has particularly struggled to gain adherents beyond its white Anglo-Saxon Protestant roots into communities of color. UUism is often criticized as a religion of the head rather than the heart, and thus of limited appeal to most people.

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Moving Towards a World with No Bosses

I keep attempting to bear witness to and advocate for our society’s continuing transformation from “hierarchies of control to circles of equals”, but I got feedback from my partner Sally on our morning walk today that that is too academic of a framing… Damn! So how can I call this out in a more clear, un-geeky, and compelling way? What captures the essence of (along with the argument for) this transformation? I thought about it, feeling some frustration that I was not yet effective in really communicating what I’m trying to say.

So I suggested a new framing that my comrade thought might be more compelling. In the simplest and broadest sense of it, isn’t it about moving towards a “world without bosses”?

The word “boss” is such a loaded one in our culture, evoking (at least in my mind) an old-school sense of a person who gives you orders, monitors your conduct, and does a high-stakes evaluation of your performance in your work. Someone who is higher than you on the org chart that you may strive to replace or just to mollify. Someone who “bosses you around”, which from my sense of that usage, is never intended to mean something positive. As a parent, I still have in my mind one kid challenging another kid’s bullying by saying, “You’re not the boss of me!”

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Young People – The World’s Last Chattel?

This latest round of high-profile revelations of at times systemic cover-ups of the sexual abuse of young people at Penn State and elsewhere has been topping the news lately. There seem to be ongoing issues with this within the Catholic denomination but that is no longer news. Still in much of the world young people are coerced into military service, marriage or as sex workers under the threat of violence and often death. They are essentially “chattel”, human assets that are either owned and controlled by adult family members by accident of birth, or by “legitimate” or illegitimate sale to or seizure by others.

From my reading of history, at least since the beginnings of formal hierarchical organization of society perhaps 5000 years ago, the most prominent civilizations have featured an elite group of male people wielding power and authority (what I and others call “patriarchy”). The overwhelming majority of people – whether slaves, peasants, women or children – were essentially voiceless, owned and/or controlled by this elite group of men. With the ethical innovations of the “Axial Age” (~800 to 200 BCE) the legitimacy of slavery (particularly of adult males) began to be challenged, though it was still practiced in parts of Europe and the United States well into the 19th century CE. And in many parts of the world even today women continue to be virtual slaves to their fathers or husbands.

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Defining the Circle of Equals

For most of recorded history (with some notable exceptions) human societies and the institutions within those societies – political, economic, religious, educational, family, etc. – have been structured on a hierarchical model of governance and control with men ranked above women in status, a structure I refer to often as “patriarchy”. But in the last five centuries of the “Modern Era”, with its focus on the emancipation of the individual, there has been a clear historic trend away from these hierarchical structures toward more egalitarian ones (see “The Long Road to Agency”). These egalitarian structures I like to call “circles of equals”.

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Does Compulsion Still Work?

I am convinced that we are in an historic transition in our society and our entire world from patriarchy to partnership. From a model of organizing society’s institutions around hierarchy, top-down control and “power-over” towards a very different model where the “world is flat” and decisions are made collectively in a “power-with” arrangement. Like all profound transformations, besides the visible changes in how our institutions are organized, how we lead our lives and interact with each other, there are internal realignments in what we value and how we frame the world and our participation in it.

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