Mutual Empowerment April 2024

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promoting holistic reform

April 2024

Egalitarian Seeds

“You can be whatever you want to be.”

“What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?”

“Money is a way to keep score.”

“Greed is good.”

“Anyone can move from rags to riches with enough hard work.”

“The poor are responsible for their poverty.”

“The rich deserve their wealth.”

“Somebody’s gotta win and somebody’s gotta lose.”

“Winning is everything.”

“Go along to get along.”

“Keep up with the Joneses.”

“Mom, I have to have a smartphone because everyone has one.”

“Someone must always be in charge.”

“My workplace is a dictatorship.”

“At least I can be boss in my home.”

Society implants these hyper-individualistic, materialistic beliefs deep within people’s minds, which inflames instincts to dominate and submit for personal gain.

Our social system claims to be based on merit, equality, and a level playing field, but in fact, it exalts wealth, power, and status, however gained. The elite rule, supposedly deservedly, in every arena.

Humans are torn between fear and anger on the one hand and trust and love on the other. Fully facing this tension is necessary to resolve it. Chronic denial and distraction are deadly. We must acknowledge our best and our worst instincts. Only then can we most effectively relieve suffering and promote justice.

We can pause for rest and recreation, take care of ourselves so we can better care for others, and then reengage to pursue Truth, Justice, and Beauty and organize (structure) activities that cultivate holistic reform.

Numerous advocates presented in the Systemic knowledge base on the Compassionate Humanity Community website promote the compassionate holistic democratic reform of our top-down, selfish society. They address the whole person and the whole society, deal with complete systems, propose mutual support for self-improvement, and promote structural reforms rooted in moral transformation. These efforts don’t echo each other precisely, but they share many core principles and move in the same direction. [read more]

“Supercommuicators,” Interview with Charles Duhigg

Whether it is expletive-filled letter writing or the kind of political campaigning we discussed earlier in the program, there’s one skill they both require, and that is effective communication. Of course, throughout history and still today, it’s a tool of the powerful for both good and bad, but it’s also crucial in all of our daily lives, in the workplace, in our personal relationships, and more than ever online. [read more] (posted in Communication)

Desire, Dopamine, and the Internet,” L. M. Sacasas

In “Desire, Dopamine, and the Internet,” L. M. Sacasas, editor of The Convivial Society, argues

Part of what is going on is that, having grown up with devices at the ready, many people are now simply unable to imagine how to live apart from the steady stream of stimuli that they supply.

Human beings will naturally seek distractions rather than confront their own thoughts in moments of solitude and quiet because those thoughts will eventually lead them to consider unpleasant matters such as their own mortality, the vanity of their endeavors, and the general frailty of the human condition.

We are all of us kings now surrounded by devices whose only purpose is to prevent us from thinking about ourselves. [read more] (posted in Big Tech)

“Sisyphus on the Street,” A review by Jason DeParle

In “Sisyphus on the Street,” Jason DeParle reviews Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to Homeless People by Tracy Kidder….

DeParle reports that in Kidder’s book “there’s not much about the broader inequality from which homelessness springs and almost nothing about politics or the paucity of housing aid…. To connect the policy dots,” DeParle writes, “readers might consult Marybeth Shinn and Jill Khadduri’s In the Midst of Plenty: Homelessness and What to Do About It (2020), a clear-eyed journey through a rich academic literature.” [read more] (Posted in Housing/Homelessness)

“The Anxious Generation.” Interview with Jonathan Haidt by Walter Isaacson, Transcript, April 1, 2024, Amanpour and Co.

Smartphones and social media have altered children’s development. Jonathan Haidt joins Hari to talk about how parents can manage the negative impacts. [read more] (added in Big Tech)

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Editor’s Report

I didn’t want to discourage anyone from voting for Biden with “The Amoral Joe Biden” and hope it didn’t burn bridges. I merely believe that if he presented his case within a more robust moral framework, it would be more effective politically — and help nurture change throughout society.

Biden never said we should support Ukraine simply because it’s the right thing to do — for ethical reasons. He could’ve said, “When we see a bully harming someone, we should intervene, whether in a school, workplace, community, or on the global stage.” Making that point would encourage people to improve their interactions in general and help build a powerful, independent grassroots movement.

I don’t judge Biden’s moral character. I don’t know his motives, and I can’t read his mind. I can only judge his actions. I called him amoral, as I might call someone a “criminal” when they break the law. We can make judgments without being judgmental.

I only know the motives of a few close friends, but I don’t trust any politician to that degree. Some politicians enter the arena because they want to do good, but most soon become focused on getting re-elected for selfish reasons.


I read an essay from James Baldwin’s Cross of Redemption daily. I only read one because the essays are intense, and I want to absorb them before moving on.

I’ve considered inviting 100 or so Contacts to a “James Baldwin Zoom,” but none of you have commented on his 1959 essay, “Mass Culture and the Creative Artist,” which I posted two weeks ago. So, I suspect Baldwin doesn’t impact others as strongly as he does me and have placed that idea on the back burner.

However, here’s a link to another Baldwin essay, a 1962 New York Times piece, As Much Truth As One Can Bear.

After I finish Cross of Redemption, I may comment on it with an essay and share quotes and excerpts.


I recently added the following to the opening of the Systemic chapter introduction:

Egalitarian Seeds: Holistic Reform

Numerous advocates presented in the Systemic knowledge base promote holistic reform rooted in compassion. They address the whole person and the whole society. These efforts differ; none echo each other precisely, but they share core principles and move in the same direction.

I’m adding summaries of some of these essays and books to the end of the Systemic chapter.

I’m using “holistic” rather than “holistic and systemic.” Holistic means “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the individual parts,” so it incorporates “systemic.”


Putin, Truth, and Scapegoating

The NFL and the Egalitarian Cultural Revolution

By Wade Lee Hudson

Challenges to top-down power are spreading. Compassion-minded people are developing ways to empower people rooted in mutual respect. In his February 16 Washington Post column, Fareed Zakaria affirmed “bottom-up systems” that cultivate “organic communities, rooted in freedom and choice, built bottom-up not top-down.” Changes within the National Football League also illustrate aspects of this cultural revolution. 

During this year’s Super Bowl, when he was angry about not being in the game, Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chief’s star tight end, walked up to his coach, yelled at him, bumped into him, and knocked him off balance. The coach, Andy Reid, shrugged it. off. 

Bill Belichick, the former New England Patriots coach who led the NFL’s greatest dynasty, would never have responded that way. He was an authoritarian control freak who abused his players, including his premier quarterback, Tom Brady. His style has become outdated. Since he and the Patriots parted ways last year, no team has hired him.

Recently, Burke Robinson, a Stanford University management lecturer, helped the San Francisco 49ers to winning records with a new collaborative formula. This approach emphasizes the collective embrace of collaboratively defined core values and principles that provide a precise sense of direction. 

The 49ers place their core values into two categories. “Talent” includes objective factors: speed, physical toughness, character traits, scheme fit, and football IQ. “Spirit” includes subjective personal qualities: loves the game, contagious enthusiasm, mental toughness, dependable on commitments, accountable to self and others. 

They say their players “will represent our core values and beliefs in both their talent and spirit. We firmly believe that players who embody these core values will change the culture and reestablish the 49er Way — a Brotherhood that will lead us back to competing for championships year after year.”

General Manager John Lynch says, “Culture is the people you surround yourself with. We’ve got to bring quality people to have a great culture… We’re all a product of our experiences.” He says the team “indoctrinates” all of their people in this culture.

He considers their vision “our beacon that reminds us who we are and what we’re  trying to be… If you’re on a sailboat, you have to know which port you’re heading for. Everybody in this building has got to know (what exactly we want). We’ve got to be able to articulate that. It’s got to be crystal clear.” 

The 49ers emblazon their vision statement, place it on walls, and laminate it for distribution. It’s the “guiding light” for the entire organization. 

This unity started upstairs with a collaborative process between the coaching staff and scouting department. It then spread and nurtured strong locker room cohesiveness.

“We haven’t been afraid to tweak the vision statement a little bit when things have changed,” Lynch said. 

Others in the NFL are learning from the 49ers. Teams have hired away three coaching assistants as their head coach and selected two of the four participants in that original vision statement meeting as their General Manager.

Countless innovative projects in other arenas are developing similar approaches, even within hierarchical organizations. Key elements include maximizing collaboration on all levels. Articulating a written vision that everyone understands and embraces. Ensuring everyone has a voice and feels heard. Developing a collective culture that affirms both measurable goals and intangible personal qualities. Attention to the importance of culture. An intentional commitment to establishing new structures that cultivate personal and collective growth. Cultivating joy and contagious enthusiasm. Mutual support for self-development. 

The Compassionate Humanity Community website has long affirmed these ideas. 

Cultural changes in the NFL are also manifest in its Inspire Change social justice initiative. The NFL has dedicated more than $300 million to grants approved by the Player-Owner Social Justice Committee. This project “drives further progress” in police-community relations, criminal justice reform, education, and economic advancement. It is

aimed at reducing barriers to opportunity, particularly in communities of color, and showcasing how the NFL family is working together to create positive change. Inspire Change comes to life at all levels of the league — current and former players: NFL teams and ownership; and throughout the league office.

The Criminal Justice Reform component Just City 

will continue its Clean Slate advocacy, which has sealed the criminal histories of hundreds of people and eliminated statewide barriers to expungement; expand Court Watch to bring more transparency and accountability to local criminal courts; and build out its Public Data Accountability Project.

The Police-Community Relations component includes the Vera Institute of Justice which “will partner with cities nationwide to implement policies that reduce the scope of law enforcement responses to health and social issues.”

These reforms are not revolutionary in and of themselves. Nevertheless, they plant seeds for an egalitarian cultural revolution. These seeds increase awareness of the need for more fairness and kindness throughout society. 

Maybe someday, people who see the need for more mutual respect, bottom-up power, economic security for all, and personal and community empowerment will come together and demand compassionate changes in public policy, knowing it will be necessary to be in the streets in massive numbers, engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience as needed.

Interview with “Fluke” author, Brian Klass

The 2/6/24 Amanpour and Company episode concludes with a fascinating interview by Walter Isaacson with Brian Klass, author of Fluke, Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters. I posted the complete transcript under Systemic/ Articles/Essays/Op-eds and linked to this comment on the Systemic/Books entry.

The points that struck me most strongly include

KLAAS: A fluke is a highly consequential event that happens by chance or is arbitrary or random. And so, I argue in the book that our world is shaped by these and our lives are shaped by these much more than we imagine, but we just pretend otherwise because it’s much nicer to imagine that we have neat and tidy stories to make sense of our world and our own lives….

I think this is the sort of way that our world works, is partly between order and disorder,… A single thing can tip you over that edge and create an extremely consequential event that shifts how the world works….

we have designed a world that is particularly prone to these avalanches because the sand pile is extremely high by design. 

And what I mean by that is that you have this sort of system that operates with optimization and efficiency as its main priorities. And this means that we have no slack in the system. (Emphases added)….

If we had dealt with the problem of the lingering resentment in the American public, then Trump might have (failed)….

ISAACSON: How can an understanding of the role of flukes lead us to have a more resilient society, and let me even add a more resilient personal life?

KLAAS: Yes, I like this question because, you know, I think differently about the world and my own life, having written this book. I was not the same person three years ago. And the reason for that is because…I grew up in the U.S., where I was sort of told you have to sort of just make your own path. This sort of individualist mindset, the American dream, and so on. And it’s a culture that is extremely focused on control, right?

And I describe in the book how I was living, you know, what I described as a checklist existence. And I think when you start to think about the role of these forces that are sometimes arbitrary, accidental, and random, and also the chaos theory, the ripple effects of our decisions, it starts to liberate you a little bit, right? It starts to make you feel like, you know what, it’s maybe OK if I don’t have so much top-down control. And that’s what I’ve internalized as a lesson from the book.

In terms of society, I think the main lesson is resilience. I think that we have the tools to give us the illusion of control more than ever before. Because we have so much predictability and stability in our daily lives that we start to think that our world is also stable. And in fact, it’s the opposite. The stability in our daily lives is happening at the same time as the world is changing faster and more profoundly than ever before in human history.

So, in my view, this is something where politicians, economists, et cetera, need to understand that they are creating a world without slack, and the flukes are always going to be there. So, instead of imagining that we can have this top-down control, I think we have to have a little bit less hubris and also accept the limits of what humans can and cannot control. And I think that’s true for ordinary citizens as well as for politicians who are calling the shots.

Two points in particular strike me. First, Klaas’s reference to “a system that operates with optimization and efficiency as its main priorities” is intriguing. I’ve said that “the Top-Down System” is driven by people climbing social ladders to look down on and try to dominate and exploit those below and submit to those above. The drive to optimize and maximize efficiency seems consistent with my analysis. I want to get his book and see if and how these two drives overlap. I may need to modify my formulation.

Secondly, his comment about the drive to establish top-down control in personal lives suggests he has a holistic approach,. This comment encourages me to believe that his framework is consistent with mine, and I may be able to complement my analysis with his. Regardless, his assertion that we need to accept chaos in our personal lives is one I haven’t addressed before and will do so now.

Dear Subscriber,
I’ve rewritten the CHC website’s Introduction. The new opening follows. Your comments are welcome.

How can we be kinder and fairer? This constantly updated digital book explores this question.

The principal answer is to promote positive changes in every sector — social, personal, cultural, economic, environmental, and political. Changes that move in the same direction and reinforce each other in an upward spiral.

The hope is that these efforts will coalesce in a new, powerful grassroots movement that unifies the many forces cultivating a more compassionate society — including the civil rights, electoral reform, #MeToo, human rights, call-in, anti-war, environmental justice, climate action, union, living wage, police reform, holistic democracy, immigrant rights, gay liberation, human potential, and interfaith movements.

This website envisions how this movement might emerge. It presents a framework that might help a strong organizing committee of community leaders make it happen.

Whether or not this movement crystallizes, compassion-minded people can advance its goals informally. They can use ideas presented here to enhance their efforts and plant seeds for cultural change.

This site has grown out of collaborations with many associates. Now I sum up my conclusions and invite you to help improve them.


The movement envisioned here would correct root causes of personal and social problems. It would promote fundamental reform throughout society. It would establish new structures to empower the powerless and control the powerful. It would establish public policy reforms and nurture improvements in how people treat each other in their daily lives. It would encourage soulful conversations, self-examination, active listening, and mutual support for self-development. It would unify everyone in the compassionate humanity community — those individuals and organizations who relieve suffering and promote justice.

This movement would include a political component that would regularly mobilize massive numbers to demand new, compassionate public policies and, if necessary, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to promote its goals.

Most compassion-minded people focus on single issues, help others cope and thrive, spread humane values with mutual dialogues, and vote for candidates who support policies that enhance the common good. These activists could complement their efforts with some simple, not terribly time-consuming, methods that would enhance their effectiveness.

Widespread fragmentation is a major problem. Many people are isolated. Some have only one or two people with whom they discuss personal problems. Others have none. A compassion-minded movement must address this and other personal and social issues.

Political campaigns focused on a particular issue fade when the issue is resolved. The next campaign must then build a new organization, which is time-consuming and results in costly delays. A unified force that moves from issue to issue could accomplish more together than its components can achieve alone.

Making explicit commitments, they could support each other with their personal growth and join with others to engage in unified political action. This site suggests some such tools.

What could be the unifying goal of this movement?
My associates and I crafted a one-sentence mission statement: to serve humanity, the environment, and life itself. This focus could unify a wide range of concerned individuals and organizations. You can post suggested amendments or alternatives on “Our Mission.”

What’s the primary problem we face? Agreement on the nature of our primary common problem could help unify the movement.

Our society trains everyone to climb social ladders, look down on, and try to dominate and exploit those below — and submit to those above. Our institutions, culture, and ourselves as individuals are woven together into a single, self-perpetuating social system — the Top-Down System.  You can suggest amendments or alternatives to this description on “Our Primary Problem.”

Hyper-individualistic conditioning is deeply embedded. People keep quiet, hold back, and fail to assert themselves in order to avoid negativity or boost their prospects for advancement. They button up, conform, and submit.

People compete for seats at the table, but there aren’t enough seats for everyone. When one person wins, another loses. As people calculate how to advance or protect their interests, they become overly concerned about what others think about them.

Society defines leadership as the ability to get others to do what the leader wants. Bitter power struggles tear apart organizations. Collaboration and mutual empowerment become difficult. Society inflames divisive impulses.

Societies need a stabilizing social system that holds them together. Destroying the Top-Down System is no solution. Neither is waiting for it to collapse. Instead, we can keep healthy traditions, improve society where we can, and create new structures to better achieve our mission.

We can reform the Top-Down System into a Bottom-Up System that nurtures individual and community empowerment throughout society. We can develop collaborative leadership and democratic hierarchies that enable workers and members to hold their leaders accountable to their commitments.

What shall we call this movement? My inclination is to call it the “systemic reform movement.” This phrase refers to our primary problem: the Top-Down System. Other options include the pro-democracy movement and the compassion movement. You can comment on “The Name.”

What methods shall we use to achieve our mission?
One key method is mutual support for self-development. Social and political activists can help each other become better human beings by controlling or unlearning impulses that fragment unity. Open confidential dialogue with trusted colleagues can be profoundly rewarding.

Unfortunately, however, honest self-examination often hurts. Self-exposure can be embarrassing. Even worse, others can use your admissions against you. The reluctance to pay the price required to grow more deeply is understandable.

To drop your mask, pause your routines, look below the surface, and consider how to better nurture your self-development is difficult and complicated. It’s tempting to stay on auto-pilot, go with the flow, conform to established norms, submit to expectations, and suppress your instincts and your desire to engage in right action. It’s easy to just seek comfort, enjoy life, deal with daily struggles, care for yourself and your family, do a little bit here and there to help people, and vote for your preferred candidate.

However, the need for holistic and systemic reform is overwhelming. The selfish pursuit of power and the willingness to defer to power, as promoted by the Top-Down System, weakens organizations. Dealing with these personal issues that affect interpersonal dynamics is essential if we are to reform our society fundamentally.

You can nurture personal growth alone, by yourself, in the privacy of your mind. You can discuss these issues with your significant other. You can discuss them with a therapist, counselor, or spiritual leader. However, it’s also helpful to engage with peers.

Discretion is advised. Total honesty would be foolish. Nevertheless, considerable personal growth is essential. Small teams composed of compassion-minded people could help with this effort.

Peer support is powerful and important. In fact, we may learn more from our peers than from parents and teachers. Mutual aid is usually informal, but formal structures, such as study, support, and prayer groups, can also help.

This book suggests many ways people can organize intentional activities to enhance personal and collective growth. A compassionate movement could use these methods to strengthen its activities and promote fairness, compassion, and democracy throughout society. My associates and I have experimented with some of these tools.

Based on these experiments, my primary suggestion at the moment is that at least once a month, movement members 1) open small team meetings with a moment of silence and 2) confidentially report on their recent efforts to undo or control the desire to dominate and the willingness to submit for personal gain. This shared experience could nurture a sense of community among those teams who use these tools.

You can suggest an alternative primary method with a comment on “The Primary Method


The movement envisioned here could unify the compassionate humanity community. Change in each arena is equally important. Improvement in one impacts the others. If these changes move in the same direction, they reinforce each other and integrate the outer and inner realms.

We compassion-minded people can celebrate our unique identities while also seeing ourselves as members of the human family. As global citizens, we can work together for our shared interests, live in harmony with nature, appreciate the invisible spirit that animates life, and promote holistic and systemic reform — reform that is holistic because it addresses the whole person and the whole society and systemic because it addresses the Top-Down System.

We can grow a kinder and fairer society. We must.

I suggest this desired direction for the sake of discussion. The organizers of a new movement would surely modify them, or start from scratch.

In the meantime, I welcome suggested improvements in these proposals as I regularly edit them. You can comment on the blog posts or email me.

February 2022 Newsletter

Americans for Humanity
February 2022 Newsletter

My recent reading of Hannah Arendt’s On Violence shook me to the core, prompted some serious re-evaluation of my thinking, and led me to rewrite the opening to the Preface. If you’re interested and your time is limited, you might just read the first four paragraphs

The Comments section in my essay Hannah Arendt on Violence and Politics includes a summary of how Arendt altered my worldview. In particular, she challenges the notion of automatic “Progress,” rejects “enlightened self-interest,” and affirms a “disinterested” commitment to compassion and justice.

Simone Weil’s Draft for a Statement of Human Obligation has also had a strong impact on me with her focus on obligation. She 

holds every human being without any exception as something sacred to which (s)he is bound to show respect. This is the only possible motive for universal respect towards all human beings….It is for the intelligence to conceive the idea of need and to discern, discriminate, and enumerate, with all the accuracy of which it is capable, the earthly needs of the soul and of the body… That reality is the unique source of all the good that can exist in this world: that is to say, all beauty, all truth, all justice, all legitimacy, all order, and all human behaviour that is mindful of obligations.

Like Arendt, Weil calls for people to accept their obligation to be compassionate and pursue justice simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Significant new resources, such as The Trouble with Cultural Evolution,” by Massimo Pigliucci are posted on What’s New.

Recently I’ve engaged with a number of thought-provoking Dialogs, including exchanges with Dan Brook on Plutocracy?, Roger Marsden on Holistic Spirituality, and Michael Johnson (“The Growing Democracy Project”) on Systemic Solutions, which concludes with a summary of our disagreements, Feel free to join these conversations!

Larry Walker, the site’s Assistant Editor, has been:

  • Finding ways to engage individuals to contribute to our website in areas that align with their passion.
  • Engaging individuals to write Adaptive Action pieces related to their areas of passion.
  • Reviewing Resources to identify those that are hidden behind Paywalls, improving the site Navigation to be consistent for our users, and filling out the excerpts of various Resources where they are missing.
  • Digging deeply into the claims made by Jeremy Rifkin regarding the Digital Revolution because his ideas emphasize decentralization, which is consistent with our website. This research is leading to related resources that will bring us up-to-date on the Digital Revolution in 2021.
  • Suggesting and/or adding a few new Resources to the website as he encounters them.

We’d welcome your participation in these and other efforts to improve the site!


To receive future issues of this newsletter, subscribe here

New Opening for the Preface

  • New Opening for the Preface. “Humanity is on a downward spiral headed toward a premature death—or the end of life as we know it. Signs include climate catastrophes, a deadly pandemic and no plan to stop the next one, systemic racism, increased inequality, hyper-nationalism, more authoritarianism, less democracy, a new Cold War, an addiction to violence at home and abroad, irrational resentments, scapegoating, mindless cults, bitter tribalism, cancerous materialism, selfish consumerism, corruption everywhere, out-of-control Big Tech, the growth of the Surveillance State, oppressive hierarchies, the persistent desire to dominate, politicians dedicated to their own power—all justified in the name of a mythical meritocracy and self-centeredness that claims in the personal arena, “I can only take care of myself and my family,” and in the political arena, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Systemic elitism, uncontrollable bureaucracies, and deep decadence prevail.

    Neither History, God, Progress, a left-wing Savior, a right-wing Strongman, nor some Darwinian “cultural evolution” will save us. There’s no guarantee all will end well. As a species, we’re merely temporary residents of the universe. As individuals, we begin dying the moment we’re born. Doing nothing is not an option. Whatever we do or fail to do has an impact.

    Our best hope is to awaken a profound and widespread moral commitment to do the right thing—to pursue Truth, Justice, and Beauty—in small supportive, action-oriented teams whose members support each other with their personal efforts to become better human beings and their political efforts to become more effective activists while coming together, at least occasionally, in a unified, independent social movement to advance holistic and systemic transformation—for the sake of all humanity, the environment, and life itself—to grow democratic hierarchies, cultivate co-equal partnerships, and establish democratic equality throughout society. This website is dedicated to this mission…” (read more)

Reflections on ‘21: Trump, Covid, My Cancer

Last year I dodged three bullets: Trump, COVID, and cancer.

Lord knows what a lame-duck Trump would’ve done in the White House.
Thankfully, the heart-breaking pandemic didn’t hospitalize or kill anyone I
know. And blood tests indicate my multiple myeloma, an incurable bone marrow
blood cancer, is progression-free, a good sign.

Nevertheless, the struggle to transform America, stop worse pandemics, and
maintain my health continues.

Trump is a symptom. Root causes produced Trumpism — and they aggravate
related phenomena like racism, materialism, corporate consolidation, and the
war on democracy. Our society is supposedly a democracy — rule by the people,
who are equal — but it’s actually more of a meritocracy — rule by elites, who
claim to be the most talented.

Our society encourages everyone to climb social ladders, “get ahead,” gain
more wealth and power, and look down on and dominate those below — or submit
to those above. Self-centeredness, arrogance, and a belief in top-down
leadership afflict almost everyone.

So long as we Americans fail to undo oppressive social conditioning, we’ll
fail to learn collaborative leadership, nurture co-equal partnerships,
overcome fragmentation, spread democracy throughout society, and unite to
build a large, multi-issue, independent social movement powerful enough to
persuade Washington to respect the will of the people. A commitment to
compassionate self-reform rooted in a shared vision for fundamental
transformation is an urgent need. Instead, activists focus on changing others.

The COVID pandemic reflects these problems. The widespread selfish
affirmation of unlimited individual liberty is used to rationalize vaccine
resistance, but this pathological self-centeredness did not emerge out of
thin air. It metastasized from widespread neurotic self-centeredness, which
provided fertile soil to grow in. If this extreme self-centeredness were a
complete anomaly, it could’ve more easily been suppressed.

A related problem is President Biden’s failure to collaborate. Rather, he
“follows” his advisors, rather than making decisions together. Now, however,
his advisors admit their decisions are influenced by politics, Biden’s
bailiwick. He says “this gets solved at a state level” rather than affirming
a humble partnership between federal, state, and local governments, By
refusing to accept an enforcement mechanism, the United States is undermining
an effort to negotiate an international treaty to deal with the next
pandemic. The NATO foreign ministers disagreed with Biden’s method of
withdrawing from Afghanistan, but he proceeded unilaterally. The United
States defines American global leadership as the ability to persuade allies
to do what the U.S. wants, rather than forging collaborative partnerships.
Par for the course. A symptom of a deep cultural problem.

Diagnosed in late 2020, my first round of cancer treatment was a nightmare.
One night, due to the side effects, I ended up flat on my back and it took me
four hours to scoot on my butt to a phone to call for help. Another night I
couldn’t stand up out of my chair. Fortunately, members of my spiritual
support group here at Western Park Apartments helped me get on my feet
following these crises. But treatment-induced heart failure put me in the
hospital for ten days, often on a ventilator to help me breathe. Before I was
released, radiation removed a painful lesion on my pelvis caused by the

Fortunately, my doctor modified my treatment regime to one that seems to have
stopped the spread of the cancer, and the side effects, though very
troublesome, leave me able to work several hours a day. To help with my
healing, I frequently meditate, relax at night while watching shows on my new
top-flight home entertainment center, and sleep whenever I can. Nevertheless,
the multiple myeloma may eventually spread and kill me by attacking one or
more of my vital organs.

Significant social support has been immensely valuable. The spiritual support
group meets monthly; we rotate sharing and discussing readings. An open-ended
weekly Coffee Klatch with several residents is rewarding. We sat together
with others at a recent large holiday gathering organized by management (my
eggnog with whiskey was greatly appreciated). We’ll bring in the new year on
New Year’s Day with plum pudding and mimosas. My sister, Mary, and I talk on
the phone often. Her emotional and political intelligence is very helpful,
and she came here once to de-clutter my apartment and recently allowed me to
invade her Tucson home for more than two weeks. Brandon Faloona visited and
set up a chair bed in my living room. His wife, Kristen Walsh, and their
boys, Azure and Theo, dropped by for two hours on their way to L.A. for the
holiday. Jed Riffe, his wife Tina who brought an incredible buffet of
bar-b-que, the Faloona family, Freddi Fredrickson, her husband Trevor Harris,
and his son Trevor Jr. threw a great birthday party for me here in July. My
weekly psychotherapist, Rebecca Crabb, is wonderful. Dorsey Blake, Kathryn
Benton, and Eileen Watson, leaders of the Church for the Fellowship of All
Peoples, to which I belong, have been present for me. The UCSF medical staff
has been fantastic. Without all this support, Lord knows what would’ve
happened with me.

Financially, a Section 8 voucher has greatly reduced my rent. Food stamps and
the Food Bank feed me. Amazon Fresh delivers food free of charge. Though
COVID limits my entertainment options and the City subsidizes my cab fares
and provides free public transit, Social Security still doesn’t cover my
barebones expenses. But maybe the cancer will kill me before I deplete my
savings. LOL

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Often I’m mad and sad —
especially about the state of the world. And sometimes I’m lonely (it would
be nice to engage in more intimate dialogs and/or cuddle with someone at
night). But by and large, I’m able to avoid feeling sorry for myself, a
chronic tendency. My screen saver reminds me: “The point is Life.” I am not
the point.

My commitment to my work has probably helped me deal with the cancer. They
say having a purpose is therapeutic and I remain dedicated to pursuing truth,
justice, and beauty. More concretely, for 60 years, I’ve been dedicated to
cultivating and promoting egalitarian community throughout society.

Toward this end, in recent years, I’ve come to articulate a unique worldview.
No one else articulates an analysis of “the system” the way I do. Many use
the phrase, but their definition is usually inaccurate. Fortunately, others
are very much on the same wavelength I’m on. Some of their statements are on
the Americans for Humanity website under Systemic/Resources. But these
declarations tend to be incomplete, too abstract, or ambiguous.

So I’m trying to clarify the case with contemporary language. Lots of people
have largely agreed with my systemic analysis. Very few people have
disagreed. (If you do, I’d like to post your comments and engage in dialog
with you). And more than 100 individuals have signed Americans for Humanity:
A Declaration. But support has been lukewarm. The main concern seems to be
whether the vision is too utopian.

Addressing this concern, with support from our Advisors, Larry Walker, the
website’s Assistant Editor, and I are focusing on presenting concrete,
realistic steps that anyone can take to advance holistic and systemic
transformation step-by-step with pragmatic idealism. The goal is to present a
“foundation” and a “frame” that like-minded individuals and organizations can
use to construct a “house” with self-directed creations, moving forward in
unison. As we see it, those who share a long-term vision can primarily focus
on their particular short-term objectives while occasionally uniting to
achieve more together than they can alone. The latest Americans for Humanity
homepage summarizes our thinking.

The Netflix film “Tick, Tick… Boom!” recently inspired me to persist. In the
film, supporters told the protagonist, a musical drama writer, “If one effort
fails, write another. Throw stuff on the wall and hope someday something
sticks and advances a revolution.” With him, eventually, it did.

Then he died from a heart attack the night before his greatest success. I
suspect I too will die before any great success — as did Van Gogh (his
brother never sold one of his paintings until after his death) and Walt
Whitman (who constantly rewrote Leaves of Grass with mixed results as I’m
doing with the website). But, with help, I can leave behind a knowledge base
that others may use to spark a prairie fire after I die — unless it happens
during my lifetime. I can only do what I can do.

I just learned that a new small nodule has appeared on my right lung. Another
scan in three months will help determine if it’s cancerous. Regardless, the
cancer or some other adverse event may kill me sooner rather than later. I
don’t have much time left. The door on my productivity is closing. Before it
closes, I’ll try to achieve as much as I can — with the website and in my
personal life. I welcome your collaboration and participation.

Might you help improve the website? Do you have suggested additions? What do
you think of our new homepage? Do you have suggested deletions (it may be too
long)? And if you haven’t, please sign Americans for Humanity: A Declaration.

Have a great New Year!

Wade Lee Hudson
Americans for Humanity