Friedman on Israel

I’ve spent the past few days traveling from New Delhi to Dubai and Amman, and I have an urgent message to deliver to President Biden and the Israeli people: I am seeing the increasingly rapid erosion of Israel’s standing among friendly nations — a level of acceptance and legitimacy that was painstakingly built up over decades. And if Biden is not careful, America’s global standing will plummet right along with Israel’s. I don’t think Israelis or the Biden administration fully appreciate the rage that is bubbling up around the world, fueled by social media and TV footage.
Thomas L. Friedman

The Circle

Circles have been used as structures for meeting communally for thousands of years. Some of the earliest known tribes and native people across all continents used Circles, sometimes called councils, to meet to discuss the most important matters their communities faced. In this sense, Circles are natural to us and are not anything new. In many ways, the Valor Circle is a new spin on an ancient practice.
Valor Collegiate Academies

Putin, Truth, and Scapegoating

Spinoza and “God”

What he denies is that God exists as a being or intelligence separate from the rest of the universe…. Spinoza’s argument is disconcertingly simple. God is “a being absolutely infinite,” and the idea of infinity “involves no negation”: it would be contradictory to say that there is some quality an infinite being does not possess or some space it does not occupy…. If God exists, then he must be absolutely everywhere; not even our own bodies and minds can be separate from him.
Baruch Spinoza and the Art of Thinking in Dangerous Times

The Constitution of Knowledge

Trump showed himself to be an attentive student of disinformation and its operative principle: Reality is what you can get away with…. Previous presidents and national politicians. They may spin the truth, bend it, or break it, but they pay homage to it and regard it as a boundary. Trump’s approach is entirely different…. He was asserting that truth and falsehood were subject to his will…. The lying reflects a strategy,… a national-level epistemic attack: a systematic attack, emanating from the very highest reaches of power, on our collective ability to distinguish truth from falsehood….
From The Constitution of Knowledge

social-emotional learning

  • How one school is centering social-emotional learning

    At Valor Collegiate Academy in Nashville, helping students thrive personally and academically through a weekly social-emotional learning practice called Circle is central to their values. The school encourages students to share what’s going on in their lives and to accept support, creating a community of care. According to one student, “It’s half-way between a group therapy session and an AA meeting.” (read more) [posted in Social/Education] On PBS Newshour here.

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.

Elon Musk: “Ultra Hardcore”

To be a man is to dominate others. This is what I absorbed as a boy: masculinity means mastery, power, control. To be socialized into manhood is to gain a love of hierarchy and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to preserve your own position within it. … (For Elon Musk these) avenues of escape…provided a terrain where the mandates of masculinity could be fulfilled, via conquests of a more cerebral sort.
Ultra Hardcore” Ben Tarnoff