Structures for Peace
Released on 13 May 2021
The search for peace is long and arduous. The author suggests the next step forward is “consensus.” The sections in this book review the alternatives of monarchy, elitism, majority rule, institutions, and then consensus. Consensus is examined in science, in the Religious Society of Friends, and in the Twelve-Step fellowships.
The conversion to consensus is not easy. Even in Twelve-Step Fellowships that claim to use consensus, it does not permeate the fellowship. The final section in this book explores one example effort to add more consensus into one specific Twelve-Step Fellowship. This example was chosen to illustrate the effort to create change.
This book does not give a Pollyannaish view of the process. The process to introduce consensus into any environment will take time, patience, and effort. It will not happen, however, until someone tries.
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I closed “Structures for Peace” in a peculiar way by quoting one of the dolphins from Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.” The quote I chose was “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” (Adams, Douglas; 2007; The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Illustrated Edition; Del Rey; B000XUBC2C.)
I did not, however, explain the context - which is powerlessness. The dolphins were powerless to influence what was coming next. I picked this quote to also indicate detachment.
I had considered instead referencing the actor playing the director Bob Fosse watching the same actor portraying Bob Fosse the dancer. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_That_Jazz_(film)) Both references imply the same - powerlessness and detachment.
I picked Hitchhikers' rather than Jazz because I thought more of my readers would relate to the dolphin. I searched for any such shortcut to sign off because I had become powerless to even add a proper prologue to my book. Hence I offer this web-based writing as a substitution. I am powerless and I had to detach.
Like Fosse watching Fosse or the dolphins watching the humans, I could only observe. I was powerless to do more than try to quickly publish what I already had. I had become ill. Seriously ill.
However, I could not be content with simply admitting my illness. Instead, I detached from myself so I could observe myself trying to cope.
Here is what I saw. I have an illness. The root cause may have occurred months ago and I simply chose to ignore it. Or the root cause might have been exhaustion. I had chaired a convention, chaired three workshops, been host of a conference and I was trying to write and publish this book. I knew I was exhausted. Even so, I “could” not stop.
Ever since I was a young adult, I had been trying to find a response to William Penn’s “Peace in Europe.” (Penn, William; 1905; Some Fruits of Solitude; J. M. Dent & Sons.) This study took me more than fifty years. I felt driven to finish.
Through my writings in the “Consensus Series” - including “Structures for Peace”, I came to realise Erasmus (Erasmus, Desiderius; 1521; The Complaint of Peace; B005MRN2AQ), Penn, and Kant (Kant, Immanuel; 1795; Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch) oversimplified their solutions. Instead, the way we will achieve peace is through consensus.
The conference I mention in “Structures for Peace” is my description of the type of work it will take to bring a concept like consensus into the reality of our existing structures. This conference gave me an opportunity to see what happens when an organization that professes to be consensus-based is faced with consensus.
My approach in that study was to fully and completely embrace both positions.
My problem is that I had become susceptible to what I refer to as the Jim Henson syndrome. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Henson) Henson had one more project to finish and could not turn loose. He knew he was ill. He just wanted a few more hours and then he could seek medical help. His choice to pursue anyway meant he did not finish his project, and lost his life.
Like Ahab chasing the white whale (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moby-Dick), I too was committed to finishing my quest regardless of the cost.
Having once been a project manager, I calculated the time remaining. I just needed ten more hours. Ten more hours and then I would ask for medical help. I did what I could that day. In the morning I recalculated and found I still needed ten more hours. The third day, I still need ten more hours. My work effort was far too diminished.
I thought of Fosse and Henson and decided I better get medical help. I am now recovering, but still not well.
So here, then, is the prologue that I wished I had put into “Structures for Peace.”
My choice for the conference was to fully and completely embrace both the “Adapt now” and the “Not yet” positions. I supported “Not yet” by working as a technician doing all I could to make the event a success. I supported “Adapt now” by writing numerous “pamphlets” to explain the position. I then added to that combined workload by doing my best to detach, observe, and report on my interpretation of what happened. Then, as I became more ill, I detached from all three roles to watch myself.
What I want to say about all of this is “embrace the dilemma.”
The power to change yourself is in the dilemma of striving to find the solution that is both sides. I do not mean a compromise. I mean a solution that explains why seemingly divergent views are all correct.
This next example may require some thought. Suppose both values of the Hubble Constant are precise. Yet, what we are looking at is double-slit data. There is an information stream. Due to some properties of physics, this information stream can take on either of two perfectly valid values. The quest then is not to put the two values into competition, but, instead understand the information stream that gives us both values.
This is consensus seeking. Multiple positions are valid. You cannot resolve the difference by forcing a solution that leans to one side or the other. You cannot resolve the difference by compromising. The solution is to embrace both values, and search for the information stream that makes each valid.
Non-Fiction > Social science > Political science > Comparative politics
Words - 15,588
Language - English
ISBN - 9781005210205
Tags - consensus, governance, peace, twelve-steps, fellowship
Table of Contents
What is Peace?
Structure One - Do it my way
Structure Two - Elitism
Structure Three - Unity
Structure Four - Institutions
Structure Five - Consensus
Consensus in Science
Consensus in the Religious Society of Friends
Consensus in the Twelve Step Fellowships
Consensus in larger organizations
Consensus when mandated
Consensus in an upside-down pyramid
Consensus in layers
Consensus through informed decisions
Consensus for change
Prerequisite of motivation
Prerequisite of social maturity
Prerequisite of compassion
Prerequisite of patience
Prerequisite of challenge
Summary of consensus
Summary of the conference
Speculation on what happens next