Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Imagine There's No Heaven - Clarity Part III

When I first decided on my word of the year for 2010, clarity, I explored briefly the corresponding word transparency.  Transparency had been bandied about a lot at work in 2009 and in the political arena.  It peaked my curiosity not only because of what it implied at work but because of what I sensed it would bring to changes in the way we would relate to each other if it caught on.  In MY mind, in terms of consciousness raising (which few really want but absolutely has to happen for democracy to survive and evolution to take place) it HAD to catch on eventually. Certainly at my job it's promise held the prospects of great redemption from the confusing and mixed messages that proliferated in the organization, in my mind.  I didn't have all that much time to think of it in terms of politics and the world because, well, I had a fire to put out.  If it had not been for Julian Assange and his Wikileaks that broke into the news in November, I think I would have forgotten about transparency entirely, such was my disappointment in what I saw of it's practice.  Obviously few understand the momentum that taking a risk or two in communicating can bring.

Assange, an internet activist created a whistle-blower website called WikiLeaks that champions freedom of the press, campaigns against censorship and promotes investigative journalism by publishing submissions of private, secret and classified information about business and governments all over the world.   Like I said I wasn't paying too much attention to all of this until I read a post from the Republic by Norm Scheiber from December 27th in which WilkiLeaks and Assange are declared "Game-Changers".  Oh, would that were true...

I can't tell you how long I have been waiting to sit in a room with people to discuss an issue without all the posturing and translating necessary to get to an idea of what people are talking about.  We have all come to accept the smoke and mirrors as being the best the system can do.  With WikiLeaks and the concept of transparency we have something that really intrudes on that standard. Dare I say displaces it? WikiLeaks creates a powerful incentive to behave ethically.  Imagine doing the most liberating thing not being the most difficult option in decision-making.  With everyone submitting their versions of the truth we can at last merge the information and get an accurate reading of the elephant in the middle of the room.  In this model honesty rules the day and if you can't take the heat you can shed a few secrets, get out of the kitchen or don an asbestos suit.  Either way, the greater good has your number.

There Goes the Neighborhood!
Needless to say there has been a lot of reacting, name calling and gnashing of teeth from factions of people who do not believe that anything that could be so destructive as uncovering  a precious network of secrets and inside dope for the "riff raff" to speculate over.  We can't possible know the complexities, blah, blah, blah.....  I'm of the opinion the re-framing of perspective this way could actually save the whole foundation of Democracy and free enterprise. 

WikiLeaks alone is just the messenger.  It points to a big piece of the puzzle we have been waiting for.  Obviously people who like the system just the way it is are going to see this as opening up the zoo and leaving the wildebeest to devour the innocents.  What they do not realize is that we are armed with everything we need. We have been waiting for this day, shopping as we have been instructed to do in buying all kinds of technology and learning and playing with software and applications. We have information tools at our fingertips and technical aptitude to find answers when required.  We already have access to the information necessary to check out the world and new technology is developed everyday.  We understand the self correcting ways of the internet group-think. We have developed a cyber-savviness and an interactive instinct. There is nothing simple about working with the truth.  What is simple is electing and supporting a network of people to do our difficult work of democracy in trade for patronizing them. It has not worked well and, it appears, by this new wrinkle that the new paradigm in dealing with this erroneous standard has arrived.

No doubt, there will be victims and they may be surprising.  Re-framing perspective may reveal the good guys to be the bad guys and likewise, the bad to have the right idea.  The letting go may be as wrenching as our melancholy over the combustible engine.  The pinch we feel may depend on our investment in our favorite CEO, politico or Chevrolet.  The new bottom line may read that it is a sad season for those who excel at keeping secrets and are invested in lording over others.  Those days were bought and paid well for with 2 thousand years of blood, sweat and tears from others.

The interview with Julian Assange  in Forbes by Andy Greenberg from November 29, 2010 is an interesting conversation.  I would encourage anyone who has sat fitfully through a frustrating business meeting to give yourself the opportunity to read about and entertain the possibilities of what true transparency suggests.  Here's a taste:

“Let’s say you want to run a good company. It’s nice to have an ethical workplace. Your employees are much less likely to screw you over if they’re not screwing other people over.
Then one company starts cutting their milk powder with melamine, and becomes more profitable. You can follow suit, or slowly go bankrupt and the one that’s cutting its milk powder will take you over. That’s the worst of all possible outcomes.
The other possibility is that the first one to cut its milk powder is exposed. Then you don’t have to cut your milk powder. There’s a threat of regulation that produces self-regulation.
It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more effected negatively by leaks than honest businesses. That’s the whole idea. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies, we’re creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies.“
                                                                                              Assange Forbes 11/29/10
 Reputational tax!   God I love this way this man's mind works!

As is my way, I draw too much off the top in all of this and I am being minimalistic about the entire concept.  I know this but I cannot hide my enthusiasm and I cannot deny my feeling that this in a very important turning point in the history of freedom of speech and the internet. When someone with the integrity of Carne Ross  who stepped down from his assignment where he served at the UN, as the UK delegation's expert on the Middle East, says that this changes everything, I'm going to listen.  Ross, you may recall, resigned from his position in 2004, in the middle of a stellar career, because he refused to support the British Government's alliance with President Bush's desire to attack Iraq.  Ross' suggestions for alternatives to war were resoundingly ignored. Certainly, when he says regarding WikiLeaks that, "...secrecy does not promote good policy making."* I think the man knows of what he speaks. There is much debate that needs to transpire and the internet needs to be protected from censorship and remain open to all but consider, if you will, the kinds of challenges and opportunities having access to the truth portends.  The United States Census Bureau estimates the current world population to be 6,892,000,000. I feel we have reached a tipping point and there are finally enough hearts to dream a free and compassionate world to move the idea forward to the next step.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”  ~Playing for Change

Thank you to Playing for Change for the video.

Kudos to Randy for making sure the important stuff doesn't slip by me.

*Cairne Ross in his presentation at the PDF  Leaks Panel 12/10/10.


marciamayo said...

opening up the zoo and leaving the wildebeest to devour the innocents beautiful and funny

I can't begin to understand all of the good and bad of the Wikileaks business, but I hadn't thought, until I read your post, that it was inevitable with the technology that we now have, and that there's good to come from it.

atuuschaaw said...

My dear friend, if only you knew how much this post means to me. I sit here at this window of the world and try to be as honest as I possibly can. I am always aware that I am like fingernails on a chalkboard to many folks. I am either unpatriotic, an anarchist, a socialist, a communist, or a dumbass, depending on just who you care to ask. The truth is, I haven't a clue what I am other than human. I suppose some of what I type could be considered selfishness. But not in the traditional definition of that word. I have seen the sunrise, I have felt the heat of midday, and now the sun is setting on this life and I say what I say because it is something I *have* to do. I do not do it in order to sway opinions, argue points, or to convince anyone else of anything. I do it for my own clarification and understanding. And along the way I meet other human beings who sincerely care and understand we must change if there is any hope for humanity. Thank you for being one of those who believe in us! :-)