Monday, May 22, 2017

The Backfire Effect

Dear Subscriber: I very much appreciate the connection we’ve had via Wade’s Weekly. The interest, feedback, and support you’ve shown have been very helpful. I hope we stay in touch. To continue receiving my posts, please subscribe to Wade’s Wire on the homepage.

This is my latest post there: "The Backfire Effect."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wade’s Journal - May 18, 2017

Now that I’m retired from cab driving, I’m more relaxed and look forward to a fruitful future.

My 50-year-old commitment to help organize “communities of faith, love, and action” remains intact. The language we’ve used to articulate the “faith” part has changed over time, but the spirit has not. For the first 20 years or so following that commitment, the spiritual values behind my work were implicit -- until I decided to make those beliefs explicit. Since then I’ve stumbled along: researching, going to workshops, convening workshops, writing, talking, planting seeds, and looking for an open-hearted, compassionate, holistic community to join.

Now I think I’ve found one: Thrive East Bay, a community that’s led primarily -- in a very non-hierarchical, “flat” fashion -- by young people. As is the case with so many young people these days, the members of that community amaze me. They seem far more advanced than my peers and I were at that age. It definitely gives me hope for the future. The Thrive East Bay people I’ve gotten to know a bit personally have been impressive and highly committed to social transformation.

More than a year ago, I met the Thrive East Bay organizer, Joshua Gorman, at a workshop that he and I attended which was convened by the Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation (now the Ignite Institute). He invited the participants to an event sponsored by Generation Waking Up, a project that provides training, mentoring, and support to young people to help “bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world.” That event, which was open to people of all ages and whose participants were a diverse mix, was remarkably inspiring. It included poetry, music, and personal sharing from the stage as well as among the audience, who at times milled about and paired up to interact.

When Thrive East Bay began not long afterwards, I went to their first public event, which was held in a Lake Merritt apartment with about 20 people squeezed in. A similar format was employed and I again found it to be invigorating. But my working full-time interfered with sustained involvement.

After returning to one of their events last week, I’m heartened by their growth. And now that I’m free, I plan to participate fully once I return from visiting folks in Seattle and on the East Coast during the next several weeks.

The Thrive East Bay website homepage identifies the group as “a new kind of community” dedicated to “connect, grow, transform.” The About page states:

Thrive East Bay is a purpose-driven community of people committed to creating a flourishing world for all.

We are a new kind of community offering a relevant space for diverse people seeking meaning and connection in our rapidly changing world. Informed by modern science and ancient wisdom, our culture is both secular and spiritual, infused with a deep sense of purpose and interconnectedness, inspired by the arts, and focused on social change.

We welcome people of all ages and backgrounds as we engage in personal growth, shared learning, and collective action.

We host regular Sunday events, small group circles, workshops, and training courses in the Oakland, Berkeley, and wider San Francisco Bay Area.

We are inspired by the following core principles that guide our community:
  1. Thriving Lives - We support each other in overcoming personal challenges and injustice, and creating healthy lives filled with purpose, joy, and expression.
  2. Love In Action - We let love guide us toward compassion, gratitude, empathy, and community amongst diverse groups of people.
  3. Shared Learning & Practice - We seek to deepen our understanding of the world through conversation and critical inquiry, and to grow together through transformative practices and action.
  4. Systemic Change - We unite to build equitable systems where we can flourish as individuals, as communities, and as a planet.

I particularly relate to the fact that they identify “support each other” at the head of their first core principle. I also respond to the fact that in that principle they affirm “overcoming personal challenges,” which suggests a commitment to self-examination. I anticipate exploring with them whether and how they believe that effort includes “modifying harmful social conditioning,” a key concern of mine recently.

I’m also eager to participate in the “Holistic Movement Building” workshop with Kazu Haga and Sonya Shah June 26-29, which aims to

harness the power to change policies and institutions while cultivating the love it will take to transform relationships…. How do we dismantle systems of oppression without replicating those same patterns in our own relationships? How do we heal our wounds while transforming the systems that perpetuate them? How do we better cultivate the relationship between inner and outer transformation?

Kazu and I have had some rich interaction concerning those issues. I’m very encouraged to see that he, Joshua, and others are keeping the holistic-change fire alive!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“Reactance” and How to Talk

Dear Subscriber: I very much appreciate the connection we’ve had via Wade’s Weekly. The interest, feedback, and support you’ve shown have been very helpful. I hope we can stay in touch. To continue receiving my posts, please subscribe to Wade’s Wire on the homepage.

This is my latest post there: “Reactance” and How to Talk

Monday, May 15, 2017

Moving to Wade's Wire (first notice)

Soon I will no longer be posting here but will only be posting to Wade's Wire, generally relatively short pieces (800 words or so) 3-5 times per week.

To receive those posts via email, visit the home page at, enter your email address in the Subscribe box at the top left, and click Subscribe.

I just posted there "Peter Coyote, Change, and Transformation."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

“My Bottom Line” Revisited

Facebook just told me that five years ago today I posted “My Bottom Line.” On the one hand, I am disappointed that I'm still seeking the kind of holistic community described in that essay. On the other hand, I am encouraged by various recent efforts to nurture such growth, including invitations that I received today from two allies with whom I have engaged in rich dialog about these matters.

The first invitation was from Kazu Haga, founder of the East Bay Peace Academy. It reads:

Holistic Movement-Building
Tuesday, June 26 - Friday, June 29; 10am-5pm
Taught by Kazu Haga and Sonya Shah

"Power without love is reckless and abusive, while love without power is sentimental and anemic." Dr. King, Gandhi, Chavez and others envisioned a movement that harnesses the power to change policies and institutions while cultivating the love it will take to transform relationships. What does it mean to build holistic movements for justice and healing? How do we build a movement grounded in love without giving up the power and the urgency of now? How do we dismantle systems of oppression without replicating those same patterns in our own relationships? How do we heal our wounds while transforming the systems that perpetuate them? How do we better cultivate the relationship between inner and outer transformation? What do holistic movements for justice and healing look like in terms of real practice and on the ground? This workshop will engage these questions, explore past and current movements, and envision paradigms and practices to build more holistic movements grounded in both justice and healing. This four-day inquiry will interweave theory, discussion, experiential exercises, and a collaborative approach.

Cost $425. For more info, click here.

The second invitation was from Joshua Gorman. It reads:

Join Thrive East Bay for our first monthly 'Root Down' event this coming Sunday as we deepen in community, engage in embodied practice, and nourish ourselves with delicious food and meaningful connections.

Thrive East Bay is a community of people committed to personal and social transformation. We stand together for a world of love, justice, and belonging. Our monthly 'Root Down' events build upon our larger monthly gatherings by providing an opportunity to connect more deeply with inspiring people; to engage in transformative practices that we can carry into our everyday lives; and to share in the power of community in service to a world that works for all.

When: this Sunday, May 7th from 4 - 6pm (please arrive on time!)
Community potluck and connecting from 6 - 7pm

Where: PLACE for Sustainable Living
1121 64th Street
Oakland, CA 94608
(This venue is wheelchair accessible.)

Co-Hosts: Aryeh Shell & Kele Nitoto

Cost: No one will be turned away for lack of funds. There is a suggested sliding scale contribution of $10 - $20 to help us cover our costs. You are invited to contribute what you feel called and are able to.

Potluck: Sharing food together is an essential part of community. Please bring a tasty dish and/or beverage to share with others for the community potluck.

Volunteers: We are seeking volunteers to help with the set-up and break-down of this event. If you are available to arrive early or stay late, let us know at teamATthriveeastbayDOTorg.

Invite a Friend: Please feel free to invite a friend who may value attending.

We look forward to 'rooting down' in community!

In partnership,
the Thrive East Bay Team

As I retire from cab driving, I look forward to having much more time to explore those issues. In particular, I’m interested in finding, helping to create, and publicizing user-friendly methods that activists could use to support one another to modify their counter-productive social conditioning and become more compassionate and effective. My hope is that such methods can be widely replicated, with little or no training required by the participants.

More Dialog on "Patient as Doctor"

I wanted to let you know how I chose to use your essay, "Patient As Doctor," in my class. Some background: ...I teach a Professional Foundations of Nursing course to 96 junior nursing students (so they are early in their nursing education and have a varied range of patient care experience). In this course they learn about nursing history, ethics, laws relevant to nursing, the image of nursing, the US health care system and leadership.

In class yesterday, students divided up into 16 groups of 6 students and followed this format:

In your assigned group, designate the following roles:

    1 writer
    1 timekeeper
    1 presenter

Read the essay below and answer the following questions. Be prepared to share at least one of your group's responses with the class.

Patient As Doctor

1. How does this patient's account make you feel?

2. In your opinion, does the US health care system disempower patients?

3. If so, what examples have you seen?

4. What can nurses do to promote patient empowerment within the US health care system?

After their group work, each group had one presenter come up to the front of the room and answer the questions listed above. Students had some powerful responses.

Students felt saddened, uncomfortable, surprised, not surprised and ashamed by your account. They believed that the health care system does disempower patients and some of their examples included: doing to the patient before asking or obtaining consent, not explaining rationale/educating, not providing the patient with options or choices, not encouraging the patient to ask questions, rushing through patient care, and not using an interpreter. They felt that some subgroups are even more likely to be paternalized/disempowered, including the elderly, the disabled, those who do not speak English, and the mentally ill. They provided several inspiring examples of how nurses can promote patient empowerment, giving me hope for the future of nursing and the advocacy of nursing as a counterbalance to the predominant medical model of care.

Just wanted to share and extend my appreciation of your willingness to let me use your writing in my teaching. I think that is was a very powerful exercise for the students!



Interesting and valuable feedback.  I’d like to add one more comment in response to this one that someone submitted:
Your article makes a number of good points about our paternalistic system. Whether it is medicine, law enforcement or the media we are treated as if we can NOT make informed decisions on our own.
 Again, it’s also about personal responsibility.  We are treated the way we allow people to treat us.  We have to step up to the plate and choose:  accept what we’re told, question what we’re told and then decide, or reject what we’re told.  Even these choices are our decision, so to say we’re treated as if we can NOT make informed decisions is a cop-out.  The system won’t change just because we blame it.  We have to change the way we respond to it.


My response:

I agree that we need to affirm and nurture personal responsibility. But why should the patient always have to fight to be heard? Why don't the professionals initiate dialog? Patients are often already stressed out. Fighting or pushing adds to the stress.

I do not believe that I blamed the professionals. As I see it, individual patients are a component of the System. Blame is shared.

It's not either/or. We need not blame the individual either. But often others treat us the way they choose to treat us -- not because we allow them to do so.

In my case, I did resist quite a bit. But when you've got a 103-degree fever and are wiped out by multiple drugs, it's hard to speak up consistently.