Following are reservations about drafts of Americans for Humanity: A Declaration that were expressed during the drafting and my replies (in italics):
Not sure how people will respond about connecting up around this since we all are so inundated with coalition building right now -- Indivisible, state orgs, working with other organizations around climate, immigration, etc. This seems a bit on top of and a bit more amorphous for groups out in the field to sign on to. But doesn't mean there might not be a good response and some great ideas of where to go. Keep me posted. Penn Please note that my new address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I don't always get the Hotmail emails so please change so I keep getting yours. Hope all is well,
Almost all of the response I've received has been positive, but I agree that most activists will not take it on -- though, as I see it, doing so would not require much additional time. Rather, it would merely require a shift in perspective -- away from a narrow focus on immediate impact toward one that includes a deeper, clear commitment to underlying values and principles that are commonly neglected. In particular, I know no membership organization that explicitly, in writing, encourages their members to examine and improve their emotional reactions and provide mutual support for self-development. Are you?
We need one or more massive, united, democratic, multi-issue national movements that overcome our fragmentation and stay together over time. To achieve that goal, activists need to overcome their egoistic, competitive, power trips and their strident rhetoric that demonizes opponents. A clear commitment to an alternative way of operating could help that effort. The Declaration aims to nurture that kind of commitment. If Donald Trump and climate change can't elicit a unified movement -- other than Presidential campaigns -- it seems the odds for compassionate unity are slim. Nevertheless, I persist, with support from people like you.
However, just seeing the document itself would not be sufficient for me to have confidence that the organization truly lives by these ideals. I would be worried that the references to identity might be used as a springboard to turn the words into a meaning I don't support - a single-issue politics with nonviolent civil disobedience that focuses on blaming others, often lower on the social ladder, for exhibiting "personal privilege" in the guise of engaging in honest self-examination - because that is a central feature of our current disarray.
I support and am working for deeper change that I think most also agree on and that involves a different framing: slowing down the pace of life, working across borders to shorten the work week and make more time for non-materialistic pursuits. I have seen the focus on "identity" too often used to "fight for equality at the top", and I have seen that "enlightened struggle" used to effectively co-opt what I would otherwise have felt must be a universal sentiment for the good and the right.
Thanks! I am glad you are still in touch
I hear you. Thanks much for keeping in touch.
I would, however, encourage you to make explicit two objectives that, from my own point of view and that of many others, are fundamental to the survival of the world and hence to the realization of all the other objectives. They are, as you might imagine, a green revolution dedicated to the containment of global warming and preservation of the natural environment, and an end to war and militarism, beginning with a verifiable international program for total and irrevocable nuclear disarmament and aimed ultimately at complete general disarmament. With the weapons gone, the only way to end international conflicts will be what it always should have been: vigorous diplomacy and reasoned compromise. Continued best wishes,
I agree with you, but my basic intent was to focus on fundamental principles in one page and avoid another long “laundry list,” which would dilute that focus. Other specific policies are also priorities….
in my writings I try to use the concept of the polarity (barry johnson) and write something like: we need A AND B - but neither A- (the exaggeration of A) and B- (the exaggeration of B) thereby i hope to make visible that I do not rely on the either or logic and see the problems of the exaggerations of the different polarities
I very much agree. Though I did not use “and” I added the “polarity” as the next bullet point.