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September 2, 2009

Uncomfortable Essay #13:A summation, one year later

NOTE TO READER: DICK BERNARD WAS PRESIDENT OF MINNESOTA ALLIANCE OF PEACEMAKERS (MAP) 2005-2007, AND REMAINS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE ORGANIZATION. THIS SPACE IS NO LONGER AN ACTIVE BLOG, BUT ALL PAST WRITINGS ARE ARCHIVED HERE. SINCE MARCH, 2009, DICK BERNARD'S BLOG ADDRESS, ON PEACE AND JUSTICE AND OTHER TOPICS, IS WWW.OUTSIDETHEWALLS.ORG/BLOG. DO VISIT. WWW.AMILLIONCOPIES.INFO IS DICK'S CURRENT ENDEAVOR WITHIN MAP.

A year ago today, September 2, 2008, the Peace Island Conference convened at Concordia University in St. Paul MN. It was successful in all ways but making news. It was apparently too peaceful. Not even the media that would be considered as "left" leaning devoted attention to it. The "action" was down the street a couple of miles at the Republican Convention and its surrounding events. One year after the event, the "chatter" remaining is about residual court actions surrounding the RNC, the actions of the Police and the Protestors....

This seems an appropriate time to look back, and to look ahead.

A major lesson for me flowing from this past year: conflict really, really sells, including within the Peace community. Peace is not as much fun as doing battle.

About two weeks after the Peace Island Conference, September 12, 2008, I published at this space the first of what came to be twelve "Uncomfortable Essays" addressed to the general communities which advocate for Peace, Justice, Environment, Sustainability and Global Cooperation. Thereafter came eleven more essays, the last before this one,March 21, 2009.

All the Essays appear sequentially at this space, Dick Bernard's Venturing column at the website of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) http://www.mapm.org. At this website MAPs Guiding Principles are a constant reminder to those of us in these communities.

I have circulated these Essays broadly over the past year, and have often thought about their contents: Would I have changed what I said? Are there topics I left out?

Over time, no one has really challenged the pertinence or relevance of the Essays; at the same time, I have seen little evidence of even conversations about their contents. Change is difficult under the best of circumstances. When in doubt, the tendency is to do things as you've always done them. By no means have I lost hope, however. There are persons who read the Essays who have already decided that what they read makes sense, and they are working at implementing the ideas. They make the entire project a success for me.

(The general thrust of each Essay was as follows:
#1 - Summarizing the Peace Island Conference, and an earlier experiment on "Each one reach two" Sep 12, 2008
#2 - "Each one reach two" Sep 30, 2008
#3 - A review of "Power" Oct 15, 2008
#4 - Communication of a message to a changing audience Nov 9, 2008
#5 - Competition versus Cooperation as a prevailing value Nov 22, 2008
#6 - Money: a benefit or a curse? Dec 8, 2008
#7 - Fear of Succeeding Dec 22, 2008
#8 - The problem with calling something "the truth" Dec 25, 2008
#9 - Staving off Organizational Death Dec 29, 2008
#10 - Re-creating organizational Life Dec 31, 2008
#11 - Changing "Challenge of Change" into "Change we can believe in" Mar 4, 2009
#12 - The role of the common person in success or failure of the cause Mar 21, 2009)


As this year of Uncomfortable Essays ends, I am more convinced than ever that the essential insight came in the failed "each one, reach two" experiment that, along with the Peace Island Conference, makes up the core of Uncomfortable Essays #1 and #2.

Any organized group that harbors any hopes of long term success has to get very actively involved in what might be called micro-organizing, or as I refer to it in the Essays, "each one, reach two". Without the active engagement of the participants as micro-leaders, the entire movement will stay stuck, in my opinion. The current low ebb of energy is more than just a cyclical phase - a valley that we can only hope we will get through.

I gained a useful insight in why there might be resistance to "each one reach two" in a recent conversation with a well respected leader in the Peace and Justice community.

What blocked her, she suggested, was memories of a bad experience with some multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme in which one of her family had been involved. MLM was, it seemed to her, very much like "each one, reach two". Having experienced the abundant down-side of multi-level marketing myself, at a particularly low period in my life, I could understand her hesitation. In MLM, a dream is sold...but to achieve a dream requires an immense amount of hard work, and even after that hard work, only a few actually succeed. MLM is not a good model for most of us.

But, then, I got to thinking about this concept in a more long term way.

Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP), the organization which hosts this column, has a fifteen year history.

IF, I thought to myself, MAP had started with a visionary leader whose sole objective was to find two people in the first year who shared his or her passion; and IF the sole objective of each of these two people were to find two more with a similar passion in the following 365 days, by this year, fifteen years later, the MAP network would encompass over 16,000 passionate people, all organizers organizing in their own spheres.

Most of those who will read this Essay already have far more than two people enrolled in their passion. You, reader, are likely in this category. All that remains is beginning the slow process of working with your circle to enroll the next generation - the next two - to carry the dream forward.

"Yah, but...", you say?

Yah.

Thanks for reading. Stay in action. My regular blog spot is http://www.outsidethewalls.org/blog. Thoughts of (what I consider myself to be) a moderate, pragmatic person appear there on an average of every other day. Take a look, sometime. It is a space open to your own reflections, about these Essays, or anything else you wish to write about.

About September 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Dick Bernard Venturing in September 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2009 is the previous archive.

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