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Sender: Michael Briand
Subject: brief highlighting of comment
Date: Thu, May 22, 2014
Msg: 101018

I want to highlight the following brief excerpt from Lawry's note to John:

"...I was assuming...that this community is committed to coding messages in accord with the mainstream economic and political idiom. ... I want to influence

that idiom, and I see more opportunity to accomplish that from inside the mainstream debate than from outside."

This is an important matter, one that affects both the content of our efforts to communicate with each other and our readiness to continue trying. My own inclination is the same as Lawry's, but others (I'm thinking of my friend Tom Atlee) believe (if I can paraphrase him accurately--and if I don't he will let us know...) that mainstream discourse is so rooted in particular assumptions, perceptions, commitments, and the like that we need to use language in novel ways to avoid remaining caught in the conceptual and epistemological "box" that is mainstream discourse. Fortunately, because we are all speaking English (or "American"), translation between conventional and new discourses is possible--provided we understand that our communications are indeed acts of translation and that we take proper care to carry out this task as well as possible.

Michael Briand

From: Lawrence Chickering Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 11:49 PM To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] A focus on empowerment vs. a focus on inequality

Dear John,

Your response has me spinning about, trying to think how to respond in a way that will be useful. First, I think you know that Rudolf Steiner, for more than forty years, has been the great intellectual and spiritual influence on my thinking on almost every subject. I had the good fortune to have an extraordinary disciple of Steiner's (a psychiatrist and also an Austrian) mentor me in his theories and especially his spiritual practices at the end of the 1960s, when I lived briefly in New York. The path he set me on has guided me ever since.

One area on which Steiner influenced me only implicitly was in communication -- in the uses of language especially to communicate thoughts 'for which we have no [universally accepted] language'. Language is a challenge, of course, because people code their messages differently; and the challenge of communicating (as opposed to mere emoting) is to communicate not in one's own code, but in the listener's code -- thus to be understood in the spirit the communicator intends. When I responded to your statements about scarcity and profits, I was assuming -- perhaps incorrectly -- that this community is committed to coding messages in accord with the mainstream economic and political idiom. You wrote what you wrote based on very different assumptions.

Part of me now wants to caution you to be careful in using words and phrases commonly used (and with widely agreed meanings) in the mainstream debate when you intend very different meanings. But perhaps it is I who needs to be cautious because I realize it is possible that our unusual transpartisan community may be much more aligned linguistically with you than with me.

Although I regard my worldview as epistemologically very different than the worldview that dominates meanstream thought, all of my formal professional work has been undertaken in terms of the mainstream idiom. I want to influence that idiom, and I see more opportunity to accomplish that from inside the mainstream debate than from outside.

To touch on your points about scarcity and profit, one reason I believe 'capitalism' has been as associated as it has with materialism is that economists have been unwilling to open their inquiry into economic issues to include powerful non- material things that are valued in powerful ways by all human beings. This is the idea underlying the extraordinary success of the program I founded and run, Educate Girls Globally, which is institutionalizing the spirit of private rights into public spaces such as schools, with results on all major stakeholders in schools -- including government bureaucrats -- that are considered impossible by the mainstream debate. I will not repeat the 'lessons' learned from this work other than to say that the lessons are precisely the lessons that James Dierke and I are writing a book about public school reform, integrating my work in India with his in a middle school in the most dangerous neighborhood in San Francisco. His results in Visitacion Valley Middle School, for which he was given an award as the outstanding principal of a middle school in the entire country, are so powerful that at a time when teachers are straining to leave schools like his, no one wanted to leave his school while he was principal (he retired a year or two ago).

These are all things that he and I are writing about using a mainstream vocabulary, and Dierke's own success -- in winning his award -- has been achieved in the most mainstream institution of an inner-city public school.

I feel I have written far more than will interest most people here on this subject. I wanted to be completely transparent about the assumptions that I bring to all of these subjects, which have preoccupied me for more than forty years.

Lawry Chickering Educate Girls Globally Author Beyond Left and Right (1993) and co-author (with James S. Turner) Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life, 2008.


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