Archive for the ‘Participation in Government’ Category

The recent GOP failure marks a rare moment of demonstrated evidence that negative criticism and the opposition mindset create no value. Meanwhile, by elimination, the evidence also says that constructive criticism is more valuable for solving problems. This message is important for educators who are struggling to inspire building-wide buy-in for positive behavioral recognition in their schools, but it is also important to business leaders who have the same struggle trying to create a positive, creative culture.

Source: Leaders Need More Skills in Creativity and Appreciation | Duane Sharrock | Pulse | LinkedIn



by Duane Sharrock

There is an intersection near my town where war veterans stand with flags and banners to protest. Their numbers grow and shrink depending on the week, but some are there every Sunday. They are not bearing arms; they are armed with words and presence.

Sometimes, on the opposite corner, across from these protesters and as opposition, there is another group of protesters.

At no time, has anyone crossed the street to physically fight each other. Each side is peopled with adults–not children. They are just Americans with differing perspectives voicing their opinions and disagreements. And both groups are protesters.

Americans should never stand against protests. We should never silence protest. Protest is as American as the Boston Tea Party that rejected taxation without representation (although “340 chests of British East India Company Tea, weighing over 92,000 pounds (roughly 46 tons), onboard the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor were smashed open by the Sons of Liberty armed with an assortment of axes and dumped into Boston Harbor the night of December 16, 1773.”


Since the Boston Tea Party and the birth of our nation, Americans have also protested oppression in its various forms. They have protested slavery, animal testing, abortion, the torture and neglect of pets, driving while intoxicated, the poisoning of water due to fracking, child labor, and more. Unlike the Civil War and the the wars that gave birth to this nation, there are still people alive who remember newsworthy protests and some of these protests have led to change. From the comforts of their own homes watching television or by participating in some direct way, some may personally remember the reactions to Richard Nixon, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights movements. Nobody gets a pass: not kings or queens, not politicians, not the rich or the powerful. Nobody. Americans have always questioned and challenged and risen up against what they believe is wrong to fight for what they believe is right.

However, history teaches that protest can take many forms. Protest includes marches, sit-ins, music festivals, documentary films, opinion essays in newspapers and other publications, but protest is also expressed through the Arts. Oliver Twist (British) and Annie, although adapted into musicals with memorable songs, protest the bad treatment of orphans. Some of our most celebrated movies are protests against the tyranny of powerful individuals, organizations, systems, and even ideas themselves. We celebrate the comedians Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett, George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Lenny Bruce, Freddie Prinze, Jane Curtain, Gilda Radner, and the hundreds of others living and dead, because of their ability to make us laugh but also for their ability to make us see things differently, to think and to question. That’s what makes us American. It is not subservience and obedience. It is our ability to question the powers that be, and it is protest.

Sometimes though, in the throes of a revolution, The Arts and their artists are often the first who are attacked for their subversiveness and their undermining of power. When you want to begin a new regime, ignoring and censoring are not enough. You have to silence the opposition beyond discrediting, since even discrediting is not enough, more extreme measures might be taken: “Writers, artists and intellectuals who were the recipients and disseminators of the “old culture” would be comprehensively eradicated. The majority of writers and artists were seen as “black line figures” and “reactionary literati”, and therefore persecuted, many were subjected to “criticism and denunciation” where they may be publicly humiliated and ravaged, and they may also be imprisoned or sent to be reformed through hard labour.” Of course, make no mistake: the murder and imprisonment and blacklisting starts with censoring and discrediting. But even before that, you need buy-in. You need agreement that one side is dangerous and inhuman, while your side, the revolutionaries, are the Good. Dehumanizing leads to the imprisonment and more radical means of silencing, while the Good side rationalize the dismissal of values and ethical behavior as necessary for the revolution.

Rights, so often, are not given freely. They almost always have to be fought for. Only after a fight do voices get heard. But before the fight, people must decide on priorities and values. People have to ask themselves, “Is this point really important enough that I stand up and stand out? Do I really want to take this risk?”

Standing up and standing out is scary. By standing up and standing out you can be seen, identified, and remembered. You can be blacklisted or boycotted. You can be publicly humiliated or physically abused. Your property can be trashed with a burning cross or defaced with painted messages. When does the childishness cross the line into cowardly terrorism? Revolutionaries tend to dismiss these questions.

The trick though is to move past the protest, past the fear of what might be said or what has been said, past the need to censor and silence, in order to begin a dialogue. In a real dialogue opinions are respected while being challenged, information is exchanged, people learn from each other. They translate their needs and wants so that they are understood. This is how greatness happens.

Make no mistake. Although there have been isolated incidents where violence has broken out, and there were a few dishonorable verbal attacks, there are millions of protesters who did not do violence and have protested with dignity. Instead of posting a meme to voice disagreement, instead of throwing money at lobbyists who represent their interests, instead of waiting for someone else to take a stand, they inconvenienced themselves by leaving their comfortable homes and traveling to their major cities to stand and walk with hundreds of thousands of wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, with even a few fathers, sons, and grandfathers, to say this is not how they want the President of the United States to conduct himself. They have greater expectations. They want their concerns heard and taken seriously, recognized, and understood. This tradition of protest should be honored, not discouraged. We should never encourage obedience for its own sake.


US History teachers at the secondary school level, as well as Global Studies and Participation in Government teachers, should explore this site and try to answer the big questions posed in this site.

Although this site focuses on religious diversity in the United States, it is also about answering the bigger questions about citizenship. It asks who Americans are when they say, “One nation under God”? So often, people make comments in social networks and in face to face conversations about the endangering of Christian beliefs and make claims that the USA is a Christian nation. They dismiss or forget the USA’s exceptionalism is linked to its pluralism. For the country to be “great”,  it must uphold and appreciate this history of inclusion, but must also include the ability to dialogue–not just talk for or talk at others–but to actually dialogue. Diana Eck explains: “Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments.”

I have learned about this site from a Great Courses audiobook by Prof. Charles Kimball As I listen to the first few discs, it occurs to me that Marshall McLuhan’s descriptions of violence and tribalism are manifesting. We have to educate more people with messages from the Pluralism Project to drive back the tide of fear and intolerance.

Source: History of the Pluralism Project | The Pluralism Project

Power has always been easier to recognize than to define. To many, it is simply the ability to get what you want, either through coercion or persuasion.   Although that may be accurate, it isn’t very helpful, so strategists have long sought to come up with more operative definitions.In geopolitics, Ray S. Cline defined power as resources, such as population, territory and economic assets, multiplied by strategy and will.  In business, Michael Porter described advantage as domination of the value chain in order to project power throughout an industry.

However you define it, power is important because it enables you to get things done. Whether you are a politician or an executive, you must seek power to achieve objectives.  Yet power never stays constant, but has always been highly dependent on context and, in today’s world of rapidly shifting contexts, emerging sources of power are often the most potent.

Source: Today, Strategy Must Take Into Account New Sources Of Power | Digital Tonto


Having launched and led the battle against offshore tax evasion, America is now part of the problem

Partly because of state rights, the US can appear to have multiple personalities:

“Business lobbyists and states with lots of registered firms, led by Delaware, have long stymied proposed federal legislation that would require more openness in corporate ownership. (Incorporation is a state matter, not a federal one.) America will often investigate a shell company if asked to by a foreign government that suspects wrongdoing. But incorporation agents do not have to collect ownership information. This is in contrast to Britain, which will soon have a public register of companies’ beneficial owners.”

Source: The biggest loophole of all | The Economist

Published on Apr 18, 2014Thomas Piketty sits down with HuffPost’s Ryan Grim, to talk about his new book, “Capital In The 21st Century”. The economist also discusses the worldwide wealth gap, the 1%, the problem with large CEO salaries, and offers solutions on how to stop the growing divide between the rich and the poor.

Via Business Insider:


“As the war over income inequality wages on, super-rich Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer has been raising the hackles of his fellow 1-percenters, espousing the contrarian argument that rich people don’t actually create jobs. The position is controversial — so much so that TED is refusing to post a talk that Hanauer gave on the subject. National Journal reports today that TED officials decided not to put Hanauer’s March 1 speech up online after deeming his remarks “too politically controversial” for the site…”.

“In addition to psychic numbing, there is another psychological disposition at work, called “pseudoinefficacy.” This tendency was demonstrated in another study of charitable giving, published this year in Frontiers in Psychology, also by Paul Slovic and colleagues. We found that people might be inclined to send money to an individual person in need, but that if they heard that a second person also required aid but could not be helped, they were less inclined to donate to the first person. Meeting that need no longer felt as satisfying. Similarly, when the need for assistance was described as part of a large-scale relief effort, potential donors would experience a demotivating sense of inefficacy arising from the thought that the help they could provide was but “a drop in the bucket.”

At some point in our careers, most of us have come across someone known as a “toxic worker,” a colleague or boss whose abrasive style or devious actions can make the workday utterly miserable. Such people hurt morale, stoke conflict in the office, and harm a company’s reputation.But toxic workers aren’t just annoying or unpleasant to be around; they cost firms significantly more money than most of them even realize. According to a new Harvard Business School (HBS) paper, toxic workers are so damaging to the bottom line that avoiding them or rooting them out delivers twice the value to a company that hiring a superstar performer does.

Source: Beware those toxic co-workers | Harvard Gazette

Is lethal injection the most humane method of execution? Is there another way?  Should we eliminate the death penalty altogether? Here’s some of the best reporting on the practice.