Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Prayer for Poland

Dear God,

The souls of Poland’s leaders have now returned to you. We offer our deepest prayers for their safekeeping and our heartfelt gratitude to them for the noble ways in which they served their country and humanity.

We all know that life includes death and that tragedies may be serving purposes beyond our knowing. And yet we still ask for your grace to pour onto the hearts of Polish people everywhere to ease them in this time of loss, confusion, and devastation. It is a bitter thing to lose so many cherished leaders in a single moment. We are with the Polish people in this grief over their fallen comrades and we ask you to bless them with healing.

May Poles be able to grieve the loss so completely that their tears cleanse even more ancient wounds born of centuries of warfare. And may the rest of us honor the memory of these leaders by ourselves striving to open our hearts and more fully embrace the Polish people, to understand both their history and their unique gifts.

I cannot help but feel that this was a heroic choice of these souls at a higher level, that they chose the time and place of their deaths in order to mend an ancient wound between two nations. And still deeper, to dissolve a pattern that has kept humanity at odds with itself for far too long.

They sacrificed themselves, I sense, to help heal the wounds of war, which fester in humanity after millennia of invasions, militarism and fear. These leaders went to Russia to memorialize a long-past massacre and in offering their deaths, their souls are giving us all a chance to heal the lingering rifts between nations and between hearts.

Poland has taken more than its share of blows in the long story of humankind’s brutality. And as I pray for her to heal from this current tragedy, I also sense that there is a spiritual gift in it, that in some mysterious way it is helping to propel Poland to a destiny as a teacher and leader among nations, showing us all how to cleanse the traumas of the past and create something of beauty from them.

Holy Father, let us honor this sad moment by redoubling our commitment to be people of peace, to be healers of ancient rifts, and to be menders of broken relationships. Let us come together in this moment as one world, offering solidarity of heart and soul with the Polish people.

I pray that we each have the courage to reach out with solace and support to our Polish friends. And in that reaching out, that we help turn the tears into a triumph of the human spirit, transcending the past to forge a more peaceful future.

Amen.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Shift Network

Hi all,

Things have been moving into high gear for The Shift Network in 2010! Come check it all out:

The Sacred Awakening Series
- 40 days with 40 spiritual teachers had 34,000 registrants

The Shift Network itself has a new site (although we'll be upgrading substantially).

Barbara Marx Hubbard - Exciting new virtual course that we just launched for the woman called a "global treasure" by Neale Donald Walsch.

Coming soon: ShiftMovement.com social network and the Inspiring Women Summit

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Declare a Summer of Health, Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

With health care reform stalled, I encourage you to look more deeply at the issue of American health and see that you have the capacity to create profound progress in that area, regardless of the politics of new legislation right now. Reliable sources say that 75% of disease is related to lifestyle and fixing that 75% has less to do with health insurance and far more to do with health education and creating healthy lifestyles.

That's why I suggest that you declare a Summer of Health in 2010, building upon the concept of your Summer of Service in 2009. During a Summer of Health, we would make a nationwide push for Americans to support each other in making lifestyle changes and building healthier habits. This will not only save money but improve the psychology of our country, our capacity for creative entrepreneurship, and our competitiveness in the world. Good health strengthens families and companies.

In the zeal to create health care reform, you have overlooked that the deepest, broadest shift we can make to improve American health involves the American people taking greater personal responsibility for changing our poor health habits. We are overweight and underexercised. We binge on junk food, fast food, sugary beverages and alcohol. We pour a prescription medicine cocktail down our throats every day. We don't sleep enough. We eat too much meat and dairy and too few fresh fruits and vegetables. In short, we treat our bodies with near contempt and then expect a heroic medical industry to take care of the mess we've created.

That simply has to change. And it's not going to happen through reforming health insurance alone.

Your leadership of the American people does not always require pushing new legislation. Something like a Summer of Health can be a profoundly bipartisan initiative that reengages the America people in positive change, beginning with themselves. It can activate your 13 million grassroots base in a massive, web-based education push with viral videos and "health teams" and accountability reminders, all building towards national goals such as having millions quit smoking. People can help create backyard and rooftop vegetable gardens. Teach healthy cooking classes. Mobilize neighborhood pledges for exercise. Launch new sports clubs for kids. Create virtual summits on integrative health and nutrition. The possibilities are limitless for events, activities, pledges, media, and initiatives that could be created under the banner of a Summer of Health. And most of it at the grassroots level with very little federal funding.

What it would take is you leading with the power of your pulpit, gathering Democrats and Republicans together on a Summer to improve American health. Republicans love personal responsibility. A powerful call to the American people to transform our health habits and take personal responsibility for creating a healthy America is a deeper, more inspiring, and more bipartisan approach to fixing what is broken in American health. As energy builds around such a movement, it's natural that some of the best parts of health care reform go through.

The way I see it, health and prosperity are deeply intertwined and so long as we are a country built on unhealthy habits, our prosperity and happiness will suffer. It is time for America to become healthy on all levels, applying what leading-edge medical research has shown and what those of us who try to live healthful lives have found out: the vast majority of the expenses of our medical care system can be avoided if we live a healthy life every day.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Sacred Awakening Series

I am delighted to invite you to participate with me in the Sacred Awakening Series, a unique teleseminar event that I created which features 40 spiritual leaders from every major tradition over 40 days – all for free.

http://www.sacredawakeningseries.com

Never before have so many leaders from so many lineages gathered on the phone to offer their secrets to living a sacred life. It promises to be a journey of personal transformation, deep connection, and inspiring examples of service.

We will offer one of 40 teleseminars during the Series alongside deeply respected leaders such as Marianne Williamson, Robert Thurman, Sadhguru, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Luisah Teish, Rabbi Yehuda Berg, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim (full list below).

You can participate live on as many calls as you like and interact with both the leaders and other participants via a state-of-the-art MaestroConference platform. Or you can just listen to the recordings later.

The series begins February 17th and is completely free.

http://www.sacredawakeningseries.com

Please do share this invitation with friends and allies – all are warmly welcomed to participate. I hope to see you on the call!

in spirit,
Stephen Dinan

P.S. The Sacred Awakening Series gives you personal access to the following inspiring spiritual leaders:

Abdul Aziz-Said, Andrew Harvey, Angeles Arrien, Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, Ariel Spilsbury, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Bhikku Bodhi, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Chunyi Lin, Dattatreya Shiva Baba, Gangaji, Genpo Roshi, Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Grandmother Flordemayo, Isha Judd, James O'Dea, Jean Houston, Julia Butterfly Hill, Jyoti, Kali Ma, Kyriacos Markides, Leslie Temple Thurston, Luisah Teish, Marianne Williamson, Matthew Fox, Michael Tamura, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Rabbi Yehuda Berg, Rev. James Trapp, Rev. Michael Dowd, Sadhguru, Saniel Bonder & Linda Groves Bonder, Sequoia Trueblood, Sheikha Ayshegul Ashki, Shiva Rea, Sobunfu Some, Stanislav Grof, Stephen Dinan & Devaa Haley Mitchell, Swamiji Chidananda Saraswati, Tenzin Robert Thurman

Event Co-sponsors: Gaia Community and Gaia SoulMates, Unity, MaestroConference, The Shift Movie, Philosopher's Notes, Spiritual Cinema Circle, Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, Center for Sacred Studies, Integrative Spirituality, Intent, and Intention Media

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Speak to the Soul of America, Mr. President

Published at Huffingtonpost.com: http://bit.ly/du3iTn

Dear Mr. President,

Since taking office, I’ve noticed a decided turn in your use of language, shifting from the more aspirational, unifying, and visionary language of the campaign to the more nuts-and-bolts language of policies and interests.

I think that shift has been a mistake, for it undermines what I believe is your single most important role for the American people.

Seen from the broadest possible view, the health and success of America depends on our evolution – our growth in goodness, the actualization of our highest potential, the lifting of both average citizens and exceptional leaders to new heights of wisdom, innovation, and integrity. The deepest function of a President is to quicken and accelerate that evolution through word and deed.

Traditional Democrats are urging you to just talk about the economy and getting people jobs. I agree that the first outer task is taking on Wall Street corruption and major economic reforms. However, the economy is but one aspect of our growth in consciousness as a nation. A narrow-minded focus on just the economy tends to reinforce our sense of separation and selfishness rather than our noblest purpose. Something deeper drives our ultimate success and that has to do with a dream that we have all quite literally incarnated to work on together.

I believe that beautiful dream is to lead the way in building a peaceful, sustainable, healthy and prosperous society, not just for us but for all nations. America’s greatest gift is to help humanity dream our boldest dreams and fulfill our greatest potential. We are builders of a societal template that reflects our highest human aspirations and empowers our greatest freedoms. And we are all on the same team when it comes to building that template.

That is why we cannot settle for economic piracy, the purchasing of elections, and political nastiness. All of those things betray our highest purpose as a country.

With your position, you can be a clear, potent, and unflinching reminder for all Americans to reach for our highest potential and for us not to settle for the pettiness, selfishness, and self-absorption that has come to characterize our politics. We are called to something far greater and you are uniquely positioned to be a constant reminder of that.

To do so, though, you have to speak directly to the American soul with sincerity and power. Whether someone is a Republican, Independent or Democrat, they can feel when words are coming from a higher level. They may not agree. But they will listen. And they will move towards that level themselves since it naturally lifts people beyond polarizations and pettiness.

While you do not have the dictatorial power to impose legislative changes unilaterally, you do have a unique position from which to raise the spirits, vision, and confidence of our country. That is what you did so masterfully in your campaign. That function is not listed on your official list of presidential duties, but it is even more important now than during the campaign.

Politics is often the last place where we think to use soul-infused language. The separation of church and state should lead us to talk only about more practical matters such as costs and benefits, risks and rewards. But politics is where we express our societal goals. If those goals aim too low and reflect our baser nature, our nation enters a fog of forgetting and a deeper malaise sets in. Forgetting who we truly are is the most damaging thing that can happen – more so than terrorist attacks, economic crises, or partisan warfare.

Ultimately, nothing is more practical than the state of consciousness of the country. Our collective state of being determines everything else, from Wall Street reforms to education innovation to our entrepreneurial confidence.

I know that you are a deep believer in America’s promise. And I know that you have shouldered an extraordinary task in turning around our government, one that has dampened some of your sparkle.

But I urge you now to remember in your State of the Union address to lift America’s spirits and raise our aspirations. Speak from your highest knowing about who we are and what our mission is as a country. Help us to remember the best in our character and the nobility in our service. Dare to speak again to the soul of America and I believe our path forward will be cleared of many obstacles.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Get Out of Bed with the Bankers, Mr. President

My second letter to the President, published at HuffingtonPost.com

Mr. President,

The signal from Massachusetts’ special election is clear: a major course correction is required to move forward your agenda over the next three years.

The first order of business is to pour your heart and soul into being a clear, public champion of Main Street against the interests of Wall Street. I do not doubt that Main Street has always been your prime concern but Wall Street has an insidious way of maintaining its grip on power and money.

When you took office in the midst of a global financial meltdown, it was understandable and perhaps even necessary that you hired a coterie of the old economic guard to help you chart the course of action. However, the Summers and Geithners of the world may be very smart and likely quite convincing, but they are fundamentally a product of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and the like. Their fundamental DNA is that of big-time bankers.

You may be the man who makes the final decisions. But the people who determine what information you pay attention to and therefore what course of action is even thinkable are your advisors. You cannot create meaningful, true economic reform while surrounded with the likes of your current economic team. They may be wonderful people on a personal level, hard-working and well-intentioned. But they are products of an old, broken, and fundamentally parasitic financial system. They will not be able to see the pathway forward and they will ensure your ongoing blindness. For true reform, you need economic innovators, people who have been studying what is fundamentally flawed about the U.S. economic system and what reforms can begin to put America back on track and to get the engine of real businesses to roar back to life.

I thus believe that the first and most important act of course correction is to thank your current economic team for their service during a year of financial emergency, release them all, and bring in a new team bristling with innovation, reform, and pioneering ideas. The less time spent on Wall Street, the better.

The brilliant economist Hazel Henderson pointed out in a radio interview I did with her that the financial sector is 20% of our current GDP and that a truly healthy economy should not have more than 10%. That is because the financial sector is largely a game of intermediaries who don’t by themselves create products of value. A healthy financial sector greases the wheels of the real economy but an unhealthy one creates methods to siphon off a larger and larger share of the profits. An unhealthy financial sector is basically a parasite, taking nutrients in the form of money and undermining the health of the host. And that is what we have: a parasitic financial system that has come perilously close to killing the host.

Americans know that a $30,000/year teacher in Kansas is more valuable to our society than a middle-manager at Goldman Sachs who takes home $300,000 in bonuses. They also feel outraged that they are still unemployed while the bailed out banks are now paying outsize bonuses again. They sense that our system is rigged to allow Wall Street to profit off the backs of Main Street, all with the blessing of Washington, and that something very deep has to change.

It has to be clear that you are the champion of that deep, systemic change in the economic system or your presidency will fail.

I am no expert on the economy, but I have studied enough to know that there are plenty of forward thinking economists outside of the Wall Street club who can help you to rebuild the engine of innovation that is America. For your own understanding, try starting out with Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt, a brilliant survey of American economic history and what is fundamentally flawed. It’s an eye-opener. Or listen to Catherine Austin Fitts, a former assistant secretary for HUD who has detailed the “tape-worm” economy after her years on Wall Street and DC.

I’ll give you examples of the kinds of reforms I think should to be on the table for your economic reform work to be real:

  1. Federal Reserve reform – America needs to take back its constitutional right to create money rather than borrow it from bankers at interest (who simply create it out of thin air anyways). You are a fan of Lincoln and I think his Greenbacks were one of his most important stances our country has ever taken against the banking cartels. The Greenbacks were what allowed us to rebuild after the devastation of the Civil War and we need to do something similar now. One of the few financially healthy states is North Dakota, which has its own bank, a model the U.S. should emulate
  2. Transaction tax in the stock market – Even a quarter of a cent tax on trades could generate billions for the American people and slow some of the arbitrage and day-trading that poisons the financial system. This tax would not be felt by Main Street Americans but only by the elite who squeeze money out of the system through extremely rapid trading that games the system and does not create enduring value.
  3. Microlending fund for small businesses – The Grameen Bank of Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus has demonstrated success in empowering millions of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh with microlending and is now showing 99% repayment in pilot U.S. programs. What if we created a massive micro-lending fund for U.S. entrepreneurs with the same principles? It could even be profitable. That would spur enormous innovation without adding to the debt burden. You might use some of the repaid TARP money for this purpose.
  4. Full transparency of the derivatives market – What happens in secret almost always leads to no good in the long run. The trillions of dollars of potentially destabilizing derivatives simply must be brought out into the light of day. Before another financial bomb goes off, we need to know what is happening and to defuse as many bombs as possible.
  5. Too big to fail insurance – For any business that is deemed too big to fail, the American taxpayers should be paid for our insurance of that business. After all, we are shouldering the risk of their bad decision-making, just like an insurance company. A substantial and pricey insurance policy would motivate them to either move off the public too big to fail list (and it should be a clear, public list) or for the taxpayers to earn a decent profit in the good times. If a company is not on this list, then public investors need to know that it is free to fail and that the government will not intervene in its mistakes.
  6. Remove all corporate money from elections – this can be a bipartisan initiative, ensuring that the big banks and other corporations cannot buy votes.

These are audacious reforms to be sure, but they are only a handful of what is necessary to liberate our creative power from the predatory pirates that have taken over Wall Street and who are continuing to manipulate Washington.

The logic here is simple: if the American people see you as in bed with the bankers, the 2010 elections will be a bloodbath and most of the other reforms you want to see will fail.

You have to decisively, publicly break your linkage with Wall Street – which first means eliminating the Wall Streeters from the White House – and then take up the mantle of true, deep reform.

When you have shown that you can stare down Wall Street and clean up the corruption and piracy, the American people will again rally by your side. And then you will have the political and social capital to stare down the health insurance giants to create real health care reform.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Time for Audacity, Mr. President

Originally posted at Huffington Post here

Mr. President,

Let me begin by saying how much I appreciate you. Your clarity, integrity, honesty, and commitment to service are all deeply admirable. You are an extraordinarily thoughtful and noble man and we are fortunate that you have chosen to offer your considerable gifts in service to America. I was moved enough to travel to D.C. to celebrate your inauguration with the millions of others on the Mall.

But I’ve been feeling for some time that something has been missing from your presidency. The magic of your campaign has gone dormant, leading a steady stream of my allies to become disenchanted. Perhaps some of this is inevitable when you face challenges on the scale that you inherited and people must reset their expectations of how much change you can truly bring. Governing is a less glorious business than winning primaries.

Yet I can’t help but think that there’s a secret ingredient that made your candidacy so exhilarating that can breathe life, power, and dazzle back into your presidency. And that quality is the one both you and campaign manager David Plouffe named in your book titles: audacity. You offered not just the mantra of change to America but an audacious high-wire act to create the largest grassroots political movement in history. Your sheer boldness made us believe again that change was possible.

It took extraordinary audacity for a freshman senator of mixed race and a foreign-sounding name to even attempt a run for the Presidency against a formidable Clinton machine. Time and again, you took the big risks, from a complex overseas trip in the middle of the campaign to an historic speech on race in the middle of the Reverend Wright controversy. In Plouffe’s book Audacity to Win, he notes that when the campaign took big risks in alignment with its core principles, it was rewarded in remarkable ways. When it became complacent or conservative, things started to go flat. You would miss your stride, falter in debates, and the campaign would go in the wrong direction. The core DNA that created the magic was audacity. After an era of lowered expectations, diminished hope, and a cramped quality to the American spirit, you offered us a liberation of our creative energy and an expanded sense of our potential.

That audacity needs to return now. You have shown that you can be a balanced, thoughtful, pragmatic president and strong executive. You have calmly managed many crises. However, we didn’t elect you just to do an excellent job of being America’s CEO, governing our affairs thoughtfully. We elected you to be America’s visionary in chief – helping us to lift our vision, expand our sense of possibility, and dream big again. We elected you to help us remember who we are as a people and to dare us to become great again.

I could chronicle many moments of your first year that called for audacity but which were met with a more tepid pragmatism instead. The one that stands out for me was your Nobel Peace Prize speech, which can best be described as an exceptionally well-reasoned argument for the necessity of war. It was a moment that called for boldness – announcing a Dept. of Peace, rallying the citizens of the world to end violent conflict in our lifetimes, or calling us all to take personal pledges of non-violence. You could have done for peace what Kennedy did with the space program. Instead, you took the path of lowered expectations and cool pragmatism.

That is not the audacity we saw in you. I recall a moment when you traveled to Iraq to visit the troops during the campaign and you calmly nailed a three-point basketball shot, leading them to go wild. That was you in the campaign – blowing past expectations, taking the risky shot. As president, you have not been stretching beyond yourself in the same way. The Peace Prize speech was a lay-up in a moment that called for a three-pointer.

Part of my theory for why your audacity has been dormant is that you no longer have a formidable competitor. Obama the candidate was literally forced by Clinton to bring out his best, to take big risks, to stretch beyond himself time and again. It’s clear from your memoir that you have a fiery competitive streak beneath the surface and a seemingly invincible opponent brought out your best. More studious pragmatism in the campaign would have given you nothing but a quick trip back to the Senate. It had to be game on, played with all the heart, intensity, passion, and power you could muster.

As President, you no longer have a clear competitor. You wield more power than any other man in the world. The trap is for you to lose your inspirational edge, diminish your boldness and continue only with the cool, pragmatic, bridge-building demeanor that is your default mode. Perhaps you need to compete with the great presidents of history. Or with a still-higher vision of yourself. But something needs to force you to dig deep again to find your essence and share it powerfully, vulnerably, and memorably with the American people.

It’s imperative because you not only have great political power, you have great psychological power. If you lower expectations of what can be done with your political power, you contribute to lowering expectations for what all Americans can do.

You have now had a year to learn to do a good job with all the functions of President. Now we need your unique genius to return. And that is the audacity to dream seemingly impossible dreams. Give us a moonshot, something that we can look back on with pride, something that helps us transcend ourselves and our perceived limitations. Give us something bigger than moderate health care reforms or strategic military surges. We don’t want mere artful compromises or well-reasoned justifications for the path of moderation. We want something that shatters the glass ceiling of our expectations and gives us something we can be proud of as a country.

As I say all this, I recognize that it is not enough to call you out. I need to also call myself out and be bolder and more audacious, which I will do (see my Vision 2012 Powerpoint for my three year vision of what I see is possible in the years ahead). But you have already been granted a unique role at a pivotal moment in history. Do not let your pragmatism squelch the part of you that we fell in love with. America’s economic crisis is increasingly in the rearview mirror. Our ultimate destiny is to be a shining light among nations and for that we need an upgrade on the American dream – moving to one that is truly sustainable, conscious, peaceful, healthy and prosperous. You are positioned to inspire our nation to live our full potential and create that new American dream. But it’s not going to happen with pragmatism alone.

Be audacious again. Give us more of the Obama we fell in love with.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vision 2012

I have just posted my Vision 2012 Powerpoint at http://www.vision2012plan.com .

Vision 2012 offers a clear roadmap for how we can create a global shift in the next three years (before the end of 2012), and takes only five to ten minutes to flip through. This presentation is my best synthesis of dozens of interlocking strategies that can put us on the trajectory to a sustainable, peaceful, healthy, and prosperous planetary civilization in the decades to come.

I have included many evolutionary projects in it, all of which I see as components of a larger shift in culture and consciousness. While millions of exciting transformational initiatives are underway, what I have aimed to do is create big-picture overarching vision into which many activities can fit.

The goal of Vision 2012 is to show what is possible if enough of us work together to turn the tide. It is quite bold but also practical and achievable, provided enough people and resources. I am not saying that this is what will happen but what can happen if we are audacious enough.

I welcome you to share this with others (via email, websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc). I am particularly interested in sharing this presentation live with leadership groups (it takes about 30 minutes as a talk) as well as finding collaborators and investors for the Shift Network, which I am now creating.

Feedback is welcome so I can evolve a version 2 of this down the road. I'm going to add a discussion forum on the site if people are motivated to discuss it. May we create amazing things together in the years ahead!

in spirit,
Stephen

p.s If you'd like to share via Twitter or Facebook, you could say something like:

Take 5 minutes to view this inspiring vision for creating a global shift in the next three years: http://www.vision2012plan.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dissolving the Palin Prejudice

Published at HuffingtonPost.com: http://bit.ly/6qvvqL

Over Thanksgiving, I was hiking with my brother-in-law when he commented that he only knew two kinds of people: those who loved Sarah Palin and those who hated her. Nobody was in the grey zone. While I didn’t consider myself a “hater,” I also knew that she had triggered intense reactions in me when she joined the Republican ticket. After Obama’s victory, the fear of her becoming President subsided along with the negative charge, but I had to confess to a lingering prejudice beneath the surface.

One week later, I bought her autobiography, Going Rogue. Why? To dissolve my own prejudice and to better understand how we as a culture can go beyond the extreme political polarizations that have so paralyzed our country. What I know from years of psychological and spiritual explorations is that whenever we judge or fight something in the world, there is an aspect of ourselves that we are battling against. In creating walls of separation in the world, we reinforce them within ourselves, which is ultimately to our detriment.

I truly believe that everyone has their divine role to play in the world, even those with very different politics, beliefs, and values. While I have held that truth, though, I still had a visceral reaction to Palin – a sure signal that some work remains.

So reading Going Rogue was something of a test for myself – could I find the place of appreciation, respect, and even love for Sarah Palin?

What I found is that it wasn’t really that hard, actually, simply by taking the time to meet her on her own turf rather than through sounds bites, spin, and polarized media battles. Reading someone’s personal memoir is an intimate journey into their inner sanctum, and I developed a real appreciation for Sarah in reading the book. Aspects of her that seemed coarse, simplistic, or combative during the campaign were revealed to be a product of frontier values and growing up in a culture that is faced with subzero temperatures and constant tests of survival.

Her journey from high school basketball captain to Governor revealed itself as an impressive triumph of hard work, resiliency, and willingness to challenge the status quo. Many of the most caricatured and vilified aspects of her history turned out to be lopsided depictions and sometimes gross misrepresentations.

For example, while her belief in God is deep and sincere, she wasn’t fanatical about it or dismissive of others. I found a real appreciation for the spiritual depths she went to when first faced with having a Down’s syndrome child. Her ultimate celebration of the beauty and perfection of that child, a child that 90% of people would have aborted according to statistics, was profoundly moving and it led hundreds of thousands of special needs children to feel championed through her campaign.

On other fronts, her pro-development views on energy and oil did not exclude a deep love for the environment and even an appreciation for alternative energy and reducing our carbon footprint. She wrote in moving terms about her husband’s indigenous ancestry and connection with the natural world, as well as the devastation wrought by the Exxon Valdez spill. Despite being pro-business she was heroically willing to face down the oil industry when it was corrupting the government of Alaska, a kind of bravery we need more of on both sides of the aisle.

Perhaps the most moving aspect of the book is the way in which she never waivers in her family commitments throughout the political journey. She passes up an opportunity to contest a Senate seat in order to manage her son’s hockey team. She breast feeds in front of a taken-aback lawmaker. Team Palin is a part of every campaign and a constant presence in her official roles. Her family is at the center of her life in a way that feels whole and balanced, which is both impressive and commendable as we all seek to balance competing demands on our time.

In reading the book, I started to see a lot more of myself and my upbringing in Sarah. I too had grown up in a frozen land – Northern Minnesota – a place of unpretentious, middle-class, hardworking people who believe in personal responsibility and straight-talking integrity. We, too, had our sled dog races, subzero temperatures and a spirit of camaraderie to make it through. I began to see her political values as a natural extension of those tough-minded virtues, enabling her to take on daunting tasks and succeed at each level of life.

My developing appreciation of her formative years in the book led to a different view of the pressure cooker of national, presidential politics – I felt far more compassion for the ugly way in which she was attacked by the press, dismissed by the opposition, and muzzled by patronizing campaign bosses. She faced strong prejudices from people like myself who were scared that her more black-or-white, provincial-seeming perspective would someday be in the Oval Office. We were also worried by her folksy appeal and ability to attack Obama aggressively while appearing quite charming. The result of that reaction was a barrage of distorted stories, inflated fears, and downright misrepresentations, some of which were quite damaging to her family. After reading in her own words what she went through, I felt more compassion for her and dismay about the meat grinder that we’ve created for political leaders – an occupation for which we truly need our best and brightest.

Reading Going Rogue makes me understand that Sarah is not the ruthlessly ambitious and cutthroat caricature we feared; she is a woman who has befriended Democrats personally and professionally, shown real leadership in fighting corruption, and taken a more nuanced position on several issues in which she seemed far more polarizing. She seems quite sincere in her desire to serve in whatever way the universe calls for that service.

All that said, I still bristled when she launches in the final part of the book into a diatribe about what our country needs, which is strongly colored with right-wing platitudes and a self-righteous air as well as the tendency to portray liberals as the enemy rather than fellow allies in evolving our country. I would love to see more thoughtful reflections on positions and values, a deeper understanding of history, and less of the combative edge, all of which would make her a more unifying leader (and likely lead to fewer arrows back at her and her family). But that may not be her role. She is more of a super-charged Mom of the great white North, flashing into action to fight for what she sees as right, inspiring the Everyman and Everywoman to take personal responsibility for their lives and their country. She has the same qualities as a mother bear, with a fierce love that is eager to protect her cubs (or her country). If she’s on your side, that can be exhilirating. But it can also reinforce the kind of partisan warfare that the book ultimately demonstrates is so destructive. My prayer is that this admirable woman can more fully embrace the idea that we ALL are on the same team here on planet earth. It’s an all hand-on-deck moment for humanity and both conservatives and progressive values and people are needed.

Most of all, I come way from the book seeing Sarah as a woman who loves her family deeply, seeks to live a life of integrity, and wants America to be strong, successful and vibrant. While I may disagree with some of her policies and perspectives, I can better respect both her sincere patriotic intent as well as her willingness to take on hard fights in the service of democracy, in addition to her championing of the everyday people who often feel marginalized in our political process. I still would not vote for her for President, but I do respect her more as a person and as a leader of an important base of Americans.

I come away from reading Going Rogue feeling that it would be a useful act of citizenship for all those who feel prejudice towards her to read her book and meet her on her own turf in order to heal the lingering prejudices. I feel more balanced for having done so. I would also urge conservatives who hate or fear Obama to read his autobiography to better understand the man behind the political leader and thus heal their own biases.

The way I see it, healing the rift between Democrats and Republicans helps to heal the rift in our own hearts. The truth is that each party tends to champion one side of America’s core values and we need both to operate in complementary and respectful ways for us to address the challenges we face. As each of us heals that prejudice in ourselves, we truly become part of the solution.




Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Shift List on Twitter

Eighty Inspiring Leaders, Authors, and Pioneers to Follow

After years of launching programs featuring pioneers in personal growth, spirituality, integral health, frontier science, and conscious business, I feel blessed to have engaged so many inspiring leaders, many of whom are now joining Twitter!

Here's my top rec list for key Shift leaders to follow (but be patient as some are new to the medium). A speedier way to add them all is to go to @Shiftlist and select your favorites individually or subscribe to the full list (new function on Twitter) via @ShiftList/ShiftList.

Feel free to send me additions as they arrive in the Twitterverse. Also, please follow me as well for inspiring ideas, articles, strategies, and resources that accelerate the Shift to a new culture: @stephendinan!


Inspirational Authors
@deepak_chopra – Always a pioneer, Deepak Chopra is active, wise, prolific, and creative on Twitter, which is perhaps no surprise as he's written more than 50 books.


@marwilliamson – NY Times bestselling author Marianne Williamson offers regular morsels of wisdom and insight that blend depth and a call to action.


@_nealedwalsch - Neale Donald Walsch authored the bestselling Conversations with God series and started the School for the New Spirituality.

@pwDan - Dan Millman is the author of Way of Peaceful Warrior, and a pioneer in mind-body transformation.


@drwaynewdyer - Wayne Dyer has long been one of the most beloved inspirational authors. He's prolific, wise, and technologically savvy.


@barbarahubbard – The pioneering grandmother of conscious evolution we all yearned for growing up! Barbara is JUST starting to twitter, so let's encourage her by following her and recommending her to others.

@iyanlavanzant - Bestselling author and founder of a network of spiritual and holistic practitioners.



@jeanhouston - Possessing one of the most spectacular and creative minds of our time, Jean is a founder of a mystery school and has trained many top leaders.

@_Brian_Johnson of Philosopher’s Notes is a fountain of optimism and ideas for self-actualization - makes philosophy fun with engaging summaries of great books.


Green

@AlGore – Nobel Prize winner for his work on climate change, adding to an illustrious resume.


@KevinDanaher – Cofounder of the Green Festival, at the heart of sustainability movement, a deep thinking man.


@hunterlovins - President of Natural Capital Solutions, a straight-talking cowgirl who has been at the leading edge of green innovation and business.

@majoracarter - Fantastic and inspiring emerging leader of green movement + social justice, based in South Bronx but impacting the national conversation extensively.

@gfriend - Gil is a sustainability thought leader, author, consultant from Natural Logic


@adamwerbach - the former youngest president in Sierra Club history, a fountain of strategic green initiatives.


@thecitizen – Scott Badenoch has his finger on the pulse of innovative happenings in the green space, and has just launched a green Twitter aggregator.

@greenforAll – Ground zero for the Green Jobs movement, started by Van Jones (former White House advisor).


Social Change

@ellabakercenter – Started by Van Jones, a group that is leading the way in social justice work.


@jamesodea - The former President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, previously ran Amnesty's DC office. James i a powerful voice for social healing and spiritual activism

@dkorten - Big picture systems thinker looking at planetary systems shift, co-founder of YES! Magazine, author of Agenda for a New Economy.


Personal Growth

@j_canfield - America’s #1 success teacher, creator of the Chicken Soup empire, source of great inspiration.


@tonyrobbins - The ultimate personal empowerment guru has a truly massive base in the medium and is worth tracking.


@marci_shimoff - Author of NY Times bestselling Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul.


@_robin_sharma - Author of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, great tweeter with a steady stream of wisdom on leadership to share.


@Debbie_Ford #1 NY Times bestselling author, expert on shadow work, new book entitled Why Good People Do Bad Things.


@markvhansen - dubbed America's Ambassador of Possibility, an empowering author and leader of personal growth work.


@marciawieder - known as America's Dream Coach, an inspiring teacher who helps others go beyond their beliefs of what is possible. Personal coach of Jack Canfield.


@awakeningcoach – Arjuna has integrated the work of many pioneers through books such as Translucent Revolution.


@JudithOrloffMD - Psychiatrist and intuitive, author of Emotional Freedom.



Relationships

@gayhendricks - A pioneer in relationship work, with his wife the co-founder of the Hendricks Institute. Also launched Spiritual Cinema.


@katiethendricks - Kathlyn is a pioneer in relationship work along with husband Gay Hendricks. Co-founder of the Hendricks Institute.


@arielleford – Queen of manifestation and networking, author of book on The Soulmate Secret.


Spiritual Teachers
@eckharttolle - Author of A New Earth, the #1 NY Times bestseller that sold six million copies.


@drmichaelbb - Founder of Agape International, a large congregation in LA, Michael Beckwith's an extraordinarily positive and visionary spiritual leader.

@babaramdass - One of the seminal figures of the sixties who has gone through many phases, some controversial, to become a wise elder of the entire human potential movement.

@ByronKatie - Author of Who Would You Be Without Your Story, a highly spiritual respected teacher.


Buddhist Pioneers
@OHHDLInfo - Even if it's not yet the Dalai Lama himself, the stream of wisdom from him makes for an enlightening Twitter experience.


@thichnhathanh - Words of wisdom from the Vietnamese monk who has inspired the world deeply with his messages and practices of peace.

@lamasuryadas - A Dzogchen teacher who has deeply integrated East and West.


@genporoshi - His Big Mind process is celebrated as one of the best ways to touch enlightened states.


@jhalifax - Joan is a Zen Buddhist roshi, social change activist, hospice pioneer.


@soreng - A fascinating Buddhist pioneer who has worked in youth prisons and now is focused on bringing dharma and technology together with Wisdom 2.0

Yoga
/Western fusion
@ShivaRea – A truly inspired yoga teacher - awake, embodied and magical. Steeped in Indian teachings but then brings in dance, surfing, rockclimbing, and more.

@anusarafriend - John Friend is perhaps the most influential yoga teacher in the West, founder of the Anusara Yoga, which has grown very rapidly in recent years with its integrated approach.

@anodeajudith – Leader in taking work with chakras and applying the insights to collective evolution.


Women's Spirituality
@devaa – A pioneer of reclaiming authentic women’s spirituality offering daily inspirations.


Sacred Sexuality/Tantra
@lisaschrader – The first sacred sexuality/Tantra teacher to appear on Oprah - a warm, deep, and wonderful soul, not afraid to post juicy morsels to spice up your day.


Conscious Business
@chipconley – Voted most innovative CEO in Bay Area, author of Peak: How Great Organizations Get Their Mojo from Maslow, wonderful guy.

@marismith - Cool and conscious "piped piper of social media" (Wired), helping harness its power for human potential and green movements as well.

@mallikachopra – Founder of Intent.com, Mallika has a great combo of depth and entrepreneurial savvy.


@paynter - Randy Paynter, the founder and President of Care2.com, has built a profitable business around 10 million people who want to make a difference, an impressive feat.

@BrooksCole – CEO of Hologenesis, a true tech genius, always years ahead of the curve, building next generation platforms for top conscious companies.

@heartlandcircle - Patricia Neal twitters for this pioneering group (including husband Craig) in Minnesota that bridges conscious business, new paradigm thinking, and community.


Politics

@gavinnewsom – SF Mayor with, in my opinion, a truly evolutionary approach to politics.


@Thom_Hartmann - Air America host, prolific author, champion for transforming politics.


@josephmccormick – Key leader of new transpartisan movement bridging political divides.


@dennis_kucinich - One of the rare politicians to speak about our deeper spiritual evolution as a species. Bold, visionary stances on many things such as Dept. of Peace.


Philanthropy

@kiva - My favorite innovative philanthropy, Kiva.org pairs lenders with developing-world entrepreneurs. Brilliantly designed and growing rapidly. Plus it's fun to create connections with people in countries like Tanzania, Mongolia or Bolivia.

@larrybrilliant – Former head of Google.org, at the leading edge of philanthropic innovation and deep thinking about systemic change.


@lynne_twist - Has raised 100's of millions for charitable causes such as Pachama Alliance, inspiring a new view of money with book/org Soul of Money. Not really tweeting yet but worth following for when she does!

@charityfocus - Brainchild of Nipun Mehta, focused on birthing a "gift economy." He's one of the most inspiring philanthropic innovators today.


Frontier Science

@deanradin – The most brilliant scientist investigating psychic abilities, who has a quirky sense of humor that will make him a top Tweeter some day. Senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

@instheartmath - Leading edge scientific institute focusing on heart-mind integration, mindful living, fields of consciousness.

@lynnemctaggart - While not a scientist herself, Lynne's been one of the most influential and lucid journalists chronicling how frontier science is transforming our worldview.

@peterjrussell - Peter Russell is not a pure scientist but his intellectual brilliance combines with a visionary mind and ability to illuminate the larger patterns of our evolution.


Integral Medicine


@marilynschlitz – President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and a pioneer in integral medicine, author of Living Deeply and Consciousness and Healing. Strong resemblance to lead character in The Lost Symbol.

@droz - Dr. Mehmet Oz was the celebrity doctor on Oprah, interesting to follow since he's influential for a large audience.


Physics

@nassimharamein – The next Einstein of physics. Seriously. Mind-blowing journey down the rabbit hole.


Media/Celebrities
@oprah - Oprah has long been the bridge from the leading edge to the mainstream, as she showcases the work of people like Eckhart Tolle while remaining accessible and real.

@ariannahuff - The progressive political dynamo who drove the creation of Huffington Post.


@mrdannyglover - A Hollywood star who has been deeply committed to conscious causes, using his celebrity for good.


@visioneering1 – John Raatz is a PR wizard connected to the most conscious parts of Hollywood, rolled out What the Bleep. He's now launching the Global Alliance of Transformational Entertainment.

@levarburton - Famous actor, producer, and educator who has also been involved in transformational entertainment projects like the Science of Peace documentary


Comedy & Music

@stuartdavis – The Twisted Mystic is not for the easily offendable, but he mixes wisdom and outlandish humor in wildly creative ways (and he’s a great musician).

@ashong - A smart, savvy, hip musician and political activist from Ghana, Derrick Ashong leapt into visibility with a viral YouTube video during the Obama campaign. Key spokesperson in The Shift movie (in development).


Fiction

@paulocoehlo – The truly transcendent Brazilian author of The Alchemist



Magazines
@enextmag - EnlightenNext is my fav. magazine, integrating leading-edge spirituality, cultural commentary, evolutionary thinking, + featuring many Shift List leaders.

@odemagazine - Outstanding integrator of best of new culture and consciousness.


@elephantjournal - Waylon Lewis offers a great Twitter (and print magazine) resource for conscious living, ranging from eco to political to spiritual.


Inspiring Quotes
@siona – Network maven of Gaia.com with an endless library of beautiful, wise, and inspiring quotes


Twibe

If you like the above leaders and are part of the larger Shift we are all working to make happen in our world, please follow me @stephendinan and also join the twibe I created for us: http://www.twibes.com/group/TheShiftMovement

A speedy way to add all the addresses above is to go to @Shiftlist.

And if you'd like to share this list on Twitter or elsewhere, just use this URL: http://bit.ly/1gIC8u