Tom Atlee: Bitterness Dances with Hope – Focusing On the Essence

Tom Atlee

Bitterness dances with Hope

Dear friends,

I like this article by Rebecca Solnit (who’s writing I’m coming to love more and more) not because it comes from “the left” but because it calls for sanity and decency.  It acknowledges the overriding fact that our quasi-democratic system is itself deeply flawed in its design and corrupted in its practice.  It invites us to step out of our polarized, preachy bitterness – regardless of what “side” we are on and what evils and solutions we obsess about – and address the public issues we share with intelligence and compassion.

I can easily imagine someone on “the right” writing a similar essay, and if any of you know of such an article, please send it to me to share.

In the meantime, we each have the challenge of being true to our own perspectives and open to everyone else’s as we try to make a better society out of this very strange one we’ve got.


Rain on Our Parade: A Letter to the Dismal Left

by Rebecca Solnit

Common Dreams, 27 September 2012


I found myself saying “Yes!” to the following sentences in her closing paragraphs: “To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future, to be tender toward possibilities, to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart…. Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as do it with generosity and kindness and style.”

I was dismayed that almost all of the comments attacked her.  So I added my own comment:

“I think Rebecca is spot on – with one exception. I think most of the conversation needs to be about how to change the political and economic systems that generate all the harms we end up protesting. The problem with electoral politics is less about whether we vote and who should be voted for and more about what we are doing between elections. To the extent we campaign and vote and go home or focus our activism on symptoms (the suffering and destruction fed by the systems), we will be faced with the same corrupted choices the next election.  To the extent we spend most of our energy transforming the electoral and political systems into something sane, we will then be routinely given political choices that not only reflect our values but, thanks to the sanity of the system, actually make a difference. I’m doing my bit with, which is less about elections than accessing and empowering the potential wisdom of the diverse People as a whole.”

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