Better Civics Justifies Hope

Remarks, as delivered, by Joseph Robertson on Sunday, June 10, to the 2018 Citizens’ Climate Lobby annual conference:

There is a quiet daring that happens in the person who says “I refuse to accept” what is not right.

Without that quiet moment of daring, the effort to confront the unacceptable cannot get started.

Continue Reading

We Must Empower Each Other to Lead

This Presidents’ Day, we remember those who have served honorably to build and to defend government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We commemorate the service of:

  • General Washington who with his infantry camped through a dangerous winter at Valley Forge, to stage the most improbable victory against the most powerful empire in world history.
  • Abraham Lincoln, who recognized that a free country cannot allow any of its people to be deprived of freedom.
  • Franklin Roosevelt, who when his nation faced total deprivation remained steady, spoke frankly to the people, offered a New Deal, and who later marshaled the nation and its allies to overthrow fascist dictatorship.
  • Ronald Reagan’s demand to the Soviet Premier: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
  • Barack Obama, and the many ways large and small by which he worked for the dignity of the nation and its people.

And, we recognize the service of all those who serve us every day, at every level, regardless of who holds the nation’s highest office.

We must also remember that central to our nation’s civic life is the moral obligation to work constructively to oppose, outflank and overcome illegitimate forces that seek to undermine the integrity of our democracy.

Continue Reading

Reject Hate, Every Time

The gift. It is an area of inquiry in deconstructionist postmodern philosophy, that connects to all the human aspirations we might classify as altruistic. The true gift asks nothing in return, not even recognition. At the heart of the act of giving, there lies a paradox: one must have the intention to give in order to do it, and yet awareness of the intention is itself a kind of recognition. Despite the impossibility of the perfect act of giving, a fundamental ethical call requires that we value and aspire to achieve it.

We are always already called.

By the very fact of being able to conceive of a human subject—the first-person singular, the experience of being the “I am” that we are—we establish an ethical relationship to the vulnerability, intentionality, right to be rightful, and ethical value, of all others who have this experience. The Golden Rule—Do unto others as you would have others do unto you—is not a wish or an idea; it is the structurally integral ethical universe that emerges from the fact that any of us is conscious, alive, and in any way vulnerable.

Continue Reading

True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment

“A republic… if you can keep it…”

The work of building up to a better outcome has always already begun, before we have a chance to think about the work itself or its necessity.

The act of leading, then, is a recognition of the forces that are converging and a conscious understanding of how to work with them, when and to what purpose.

Having just arrived back from a journey to the heart of our democracy, I am again affirmed in the feeling that our democracy is deeply personal. And so, the success of our democracy depends on the intimate experience each participant has of the democratic process.

Continue Reading

Pope calls for Dialogue and Mutual Empowerment

In his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called America “a land of dreams”, which he said can lead the world in a shift to deep, inclusive politics and economics that brings people together, eliminates harm, and guarantees dignity and reciprocity. 

Pope Francis has come to the United States with a very clear and universal message: there are injustices no free and conscientious people can accept and against which all people of good will should work together. Challenges like climate change, immigration and income inequality are not ideological issues, partisan issues or issues of opinion or preference; they are deep moral issues. And we must do our best to work in solidarity, to oppose these unnecessary injustices.

Continue Reading

Respect is a Catalyst for Success

Politics is hard. Making policy that appeals to a wide range of political actors, stakeholders, and related interests, is by some people’s estimation functionally impossible. But at the heart of every legitimate political endeavor, there is the core insight that in its most expansive sense, what is of real interest to humanity anywhere is of real interest to humanity everywhere. We are connected by certain shared truths. We require certain sustenance to facilitate our survival, and we are all vulnerable to the forces of nature and of human violence. We have a transcendent, reciprocal interest in humane policy processes that protect life-giving systems. Working with people of all views and from around the world, on something as complex as climate, I have witnessed firsthand to what degree respect is the most effective strategy for building up the possibility of effective outcomes.

Continue Reading

Overcoming the Dissociation Crisis

A report on the Global Online Policy Forum: Solutions from Crisis, from the Pathway to Paris project…

Systems thinking views systems as already containing the expression of their own virtues and their own failings. A system cannot fail, unless the failure is made possible by some component of the system. In our use of energy, in contact with the Earth’s climate system, there is a flaw: our system is not designed to maintain a reliable climate-energy balance. So, we are pushing past the limits of the system, and motivating/encountering disruption. If we understand this, we can better see our limits, understand our strengths, and leverage the virtues of the system to achieve an outcome conducive to human thriving.

Continue Reading

No more posts.