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From Fear and Anger to Collective Purpose

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/13/fear-and-anger-collective-purpose


Amazing! Finally a positive article to wake up to. Great ideas and imo very doable.


I nearly always concur with Korten and would agree with his thesis in this article if we were actually discussing two political PARTIES.

Unfortunately the GOP has been an organized crime syndicate (not a party) since Newt’s contract on America a quarter century ago. Ever since then red partisans in my mostly blue workplace never stop gloating about how the GOP getting away with ever more egregious lies and crimes with each passing year is what keeps them supporting the Party. Obama’s “look forward” and ignore the GOP’s high crimes approach enabled Trump to ascend the throne, the GOP’s serial crime spree, and manipulation of the US Constitution.

Unless Biden launches a Nuremberg style trial on January 21 that brings Trump, his appointees, and other enablers to justice, the GOP will continue to gain strength while the Democratic Party fades to irrelevancy.

“Collective Purpose” needs to include restoring the rule of law, restoring accountability, and prosecuting those who have worked against that purpose. Just as Dubya deviously told the world while he was invading Iraq in 2003 “you are either with us or against us”, Biden needs to make that phrase apply to “collective purpose” post haste !


I too hope for trials. An accounting is necessary, but right-wing courts will make things difficult. Certainly state courts can and I think will do some good. We really need a major manslaughter case against Trump for his lies to the American people with the beginning of covid. As I’ve gotten older and seen American politics sliding towards evil I’ve thought too that “purpose and meaning” are more important than anything.

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Yes - we learn so slowly sometimes.

Thought I’d post this image from November 20, 1998. It shows a much younger Justin Trudeau, his devastated father Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and Pierre’s former wife and mother of five children, Margaret Sinclair (born). Michel Trudeau, who was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia 22 years ago today at age 23 (Nov 13, 1998), was Justin’s younger brother, and Pierre and Margaret’s youngest son.

Pierre was a serious outdoorsman, as was his son Michel.

“Purpose and meaning” - a picture is worth a thousand words, or more ~


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All this politics - “a dirty business” - as my great uncle Ed once told me.

I’m reading “Sully”, about the pilot who landed that Airbus A320 in the Hudson River on January 20, 2009, and saved everyone’s life.

So nice to read Sully’s thoughts about the center of this thread - purpose and meaning, and I’m feeling a little sentimental to boot, this day being the anniversary of Michel Trudeau’s death (see link at MonkesTale).

I’m a pilot and an outdoorsman - so I’m feeling it.

So much bullshit - so much needless suffering and pain, caused ultimately by leaders unprepared to lead and voters unprepared to be citizens.

So here we are - it’s a crying shame - so unnecessary.


It is nice to read about peace and positive action, but Maslowe’s pyramid does not really belong on its head.

The idea can be entertained for a bit, but because all these pyramids are graphic representations of relationships that would really be more closely depicted as networks. Having air, water, food, and basic company really does provide the circumstances for self-actualization, in Maslowe’s term, and including collective purpose. But self-actualization involves arranging that one’s collective has air, water, food, and basic company as well. A failure of any part of this cycle diminishes the whole.

That is worth dwelling on for a bit. A failure of any part of this cycle for the people with whom we interact diminishes the whole for all of us.

We will gain nothing or little from the election results in this: the Biden team has more or less the same motives to promote these things next month that they had last month. Trump will wander into further irrelevancy, but the Syrians, the Iranians, the Russians, and the Chinese are all stuck on the planet with us, for better or for worse and for richer or for poorer. There will be much and many to rail against without self-styled “news” agencies having to show novel creativity.

Collective purpose requires splitting from all this.

Q: What greater purpose and meaning is there than working together to create a world that secures the health of Earth and the well-being of families and communities?

A: Working to remove the corrupting influence of money from our cesspool of a non-representative government that will never allow any positive change until aforementioned money in politics is removed.

Until that happens, there will be no change.

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Because our political system pushes us into two dominant political camps, and, thanks to the media, the politics never stops and differences are amplified.

In reality, we have a spectrum of wide-ranging views. The picture is more complex and the camps are not this clean bifurcation.

I’m all for finding collective purpose. Regardless of the spectrum of views and divisiveness, we have challenges that we have no choice to address. Change is coming whether we like it or not.

There a large numbers of people who recognize the huge challenges and want to work together in collective purpose to address them. But it does not have to be everyone working together, just large numbers.

A consequence of those who begin to visibly collaborate is that they pull others toward them, moving them it their direction along the spectrum of support. Erica Chenoweth’s research shows that actually it only takes a small percentage of a population actively working together to shift culture.

Following a strategy that pays attention to the views of the larger population, especially when the issue positions are popular, move more in the direction of change - collective support makes the change becomes easier. More and more shift, but not everyone has to.


As usual David Korten speaks volumes of wisdom.

Humanity is not on purpose, it doesn’t have an idea of where it’s going and how.

Its stuck in the short term.We must go long to serve the planet and the speciesystem.

One for All and All for One .


From the author, Neil J. Smith, On The Ropes:

You know it’s quite laughable because America and Democracy are traveling circus show. It’s very much, and Trump delivered on this better than anyone, a source of amusement, as the Romans believed to have Circus and food. That is, to keep ‘em laughing or, in other words, distracted. Why it won’t work in Trumps favor is Democrats have as much interest in it as they. Biden is in. Anything else would be shocking. The simple facts are no one to my knowledge knows where we are headed, even in the best of circumstances? They speak for a future of which none have the vaguest ideas. None Chomsky is politically correct but he does not see the future. At this stage it’s easier to envision the climate disaster, the dystopian disaster. No one knows how to dismantle this structure it looms so heavily over our lives and rules our dreams and has taken claim of our collective psyche. We, as a species, are lost and can not find our way back. Thus they throw at us newer and newer distractions. If this ship sinks it will not be soon enough. That being said, we shall all well have to learn how to swim anew. We might finally learn how to see, how to hear. The window was closed in the year two thousand or so the scientist then said. “Oh sinner man where are you gonna run to all on that day,” as Nina Simone once sang. And while we’re at it, we shall have to learn a new song as well

His words are reming me of a Hopi prophesy much to the same effect.

As we think about our society, what do we most fear? And what are our most fervent hopes for the future?

For me, at any rate, it is our ignorance. Hopes for the future is that we articulate a new vision but for this to emerge the old ideas must perish. This includes the system of exploitation of people, animals, plants and eco-systems under which we groan.

Democrats are most vocal in their distrust of big business.

David, is this really true as the agenda is a neoliberal one? I think not.

The problem I am having with your article is that it still frames the arguments in terms of materialism and the middle class.

As I am outside of both parties but voted against Trump and not for Biden as embodied in neoliberalism it is becoming clear this bread & circus act may very well bring us Trump 2 or Trump himself back in the next election. Why? Clearly Democrats are as invested in this system as the GOP.

Trump seems a bit too sickly and old to be a serious candidate in 2024. There are others of the same prototype who are younger, though.

I agree. This is frightening but I am not focusing on the bread & circus but on what we can imagine after the collapse.

Well instead of letting evolution guide the process , concious beings can put in principles that guide their evolution.

We Are All One is the First guiding Principle of Highly Evolved Beings .

This is called concious evolution.

We have arrived, but where are the leaders who will stand for All of Humanity .

Time to Awaken The Species

“It seems hardly a stretch to imagine that through open, honest conversations in which we share our deepest hopes and fears, we the people of the self-proclaimed United States might find shared meaning and purpose in a unifying vision of a future that aligns with our foundational values, despite our current politics.”

Well, yes. But there is this:

“No Justice, No Peace.”

I like your interpretation of Maslowe. This is otherwise a common misunderstanding as Skinner would point out in more direct terms, they should make a pyamid for fields of psychology too. He has a point though, air, water, and food are important, how you accomplish this, important as well. I remember thinking that once people understood this everything would flow from it in natural order. I was wrong, no doubt leading to the field of evolutionary psychology.

Politics isn’t a path, it is a tool.

PS. Maybe we should learn to use it better instead of hitting each other over the head with it.

raydelcamino, true re. the GOP. — Rebellion against conventional authority (even that of “science”) has been a historical cornerstone of “the American experiment” and arguably of the experiment of the human species. Corruption of this impulse occurs when it brings more pleasure to steal an asset than to receive it legitimately or even for free. (Such as stealing labor thru slavery, etc.) When “GOP getting away with ever more egregious lies and crimes” challenges the law, that challenge needs to be answered.

However it deserves mention that the purpose behind the Nuremberg trials ultimately was not to bring criminals to justice, since the holocaust went beyond the crimes of a few men, but to redeem the authority of human law to regulate the daily life of the planet’s citizens. It is not constructive to expect “the law” to provide personal revenge or victim “closure.” On the other hand, the world’s failure to address the genocidal destruction of the Iraq nation has left the United States and the “world order” in moral peril. The “rule of law” cries out for justice. The failure of the administration’s frivolous lawsuits to prevail in his self-packed federal courts is a little bit helpful. Our court system still has a chance to remain at least nominally non-political.

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Interesting. I don’t think this applies only to human beings. We had a feral cat that use to come around for food. It was given to him in a friendly way, he wouldn’t take it or eat it but would come back when no one was looking and take it. This went on for a long time. We named him Rosco, because for a urban cat he was kind of a gangster. Feral cats do not have a supportive ecological niche.

I don’t think imagining a failed state is high on anyone’s list.