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diamondsoul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 07:46 PM
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"Strategic Compromises and Burning Flames"
Please read this awesome essay by Stephen Dinan. And pass it on to as many people as possible. (posted in entirety after asking permission in the "Ask the Admin." folder)

Strategic Compromises and Burning Flames

Para paz y para alegria
Tom Schmitz
Council Bluffs, Iowa

Strategic Compromises and Burning Flames

A single flame, with patience, can light a million candles.

by Stephen Dinan

The debate among progressives these days revolves around choosing the right Democratic candidate to defeat Bush. There is a singular intensity and urgency about this quest, a sense that all that is good and beautiful in the world hangs in the balance. Many have come to the conclusion that their best hope is Howard Dean, even if they dont like everything about him. The logic goes that he's progressive enough and "palatable" for the supposedly vast tract of more conservative America that backs Bush, beats the war drum, and believes media hype. Hes as big a stretch as we can hope for in today's climate. It is simple logic: strategic compromise in the service of defeating Bush. While I certainly understand the impulse behind those who back strategic compromise, I think it actually does more harm than good in the long term. Instead, I want to offer an alternative vision, one in which each of us dares to stand as a burning flame for that which we believe in, even if that might not seem strategic or popular at first. Before I look at what it means to be a burning flame, though, I want to point out some major problems with strategic compromise to defeat Bush:

1) Strategic compromise largely emerges from fear. At the root, there is often a sense that the only way one's real truth and real passion can impact the world is to be aligned with someone that is more powerful. In other words, there is a fundamental sense of inferiority or impotence underneath strategic compromise. That sense of impotence is conveyed to all those who listen. Each and every time someone says, "Well, I like Kucinich better but I think Dean is more electable so I'm backing him" there is a confession of powerlessness, a statement that "I don't have the power to truly affect people, to lead them, convince them, and empower them. So I will follow the herd." Strategic compromise is thus at least partially an abdication of leadership.

2) Focusing on defeating Bush is a negative goal. Negative outcomes can certainly bring benefits in the long term but negative goals tend to burn people out and skew our passions. The enduring missions, the ones that can lead to major, sustainable change, are born out of a positive vision for what we want to create and how we want to live. When we focus our energy mostly on the negative deposing Bush we are not channeling enough of our life force into the groundwork that can build the world we want. In my experience, sustainable growth happens with a mix of something like 80% creative, constructive energy and 20% challenge and dismantling of the old: 80% positive, 20% negative. Different people can stomach different balances but for the larger population, I think that's a sustainable recipe. I thus believe that our choice of candidates should primarily be born from our vision of what we truly want to create rather than what we dislike.

3) Strategic compromise does not change the image in the media mirror. Values-oriented studies have revealed a large and growing population in America labeled the Cultural Creatives who share a similar range of progressive values but are mostly unaware of each other or the power this population wields. The reason is that the Cultural Creatives are not yet reflected in the media mirror, which includes political processes. Strategic compromise postpones the moment when this substantial force for positive change begins to recognize itself in its media reflection.

4) Strategic compromise often puts different parts of ourselves at odds with each other, which diminishes the amount of life energy we can utilize. When our heart battles our mind or our soul conflicts with our will, much of our creative magic is locked up rather than extended to the world via our mission. Strategic compromise leads people to burn out over time because of this lack of alignment.

5) Strategic compromise discourages the best people from entering politics because they do not see adequate popular support for their positions. Politics is left to ego- and power-driven members of the old order rather than exemplars of the emerging culture. This holds true for current politicians, who are discouraged from audacious programs and incendiary truthtelling because they don't yet see popular support for those positions. Strategic compromise thus does not encourage the emergence of more conscious, compassionate, and courageous political leadership.

6) Strategic compromise reinforces the collective climate of fear that has lingered from 9-11. Fear rarely leads us to our noblest achievements and fear has colored American actions in a way that has squandered our good opinion in the world. Fear has led us to drift from the noble ideals at the heart of the American dream and to tolerate the removal of key freedoms by the Patriot Act, as well as pour vast amounts of creative potentia linto erecting barriers rather than erasing them. Fear has put America off mission. When we speak from a place beyond fear, it assuages the fears of those who listen and begins to rekindle the dream of America. The mentality of strategic compromise contrasts sharply with the mindset that leads to "burning flames." A burning flame is someone whose body, emotions, heart, mind, and soul are lit up with a purpose, someone who is on fire with a calling. A burning flame is passionate and purposeful. A burning flame is love with a mission. The mindset of a burning flame is profoundly contagious because almost everyone hungers to be a burning flame. We want to be people of wisdom, depth, and passion that really make a difference with others. However,the vast majority feel they do not either have the talent, the time, or the boldness to be a burning flame. They look at friends and families and see mostly compromise, contraction, and dashed ideals. They carry wounds from the past and shroud their hopes for the future to avoid disappointment. This is a safe but cramped way to live. Being a burning flame, by contrast, is a bold statement. It is risky because it means putting our deepest dreams on the line and exposing them to ridicule, censure, and doubt. However, being a burning flame affects people in powerful ways because burning flames are creators of reality rather than victims of it. Burning flames are the source of companies and churches and non-profit foundations. They organize communities and movements. They put people in space and invent the future. Step-by-step, they help our species evolve by leading us beyond the known. The realm of politics is an important place to be a burning flame, a stand for the truth, love, and creative magic deep in our souls. Government affects every facet of our lives. It provides the compass setting for our entire country. It is a statement to the world of our national identity. When we take a stand for a candidate we love who conventional wisdom says is "not electable," and we do so with courage and conviction, we affect the people around us in profound ways. The first, and most important, is to show them that they need not choose strategic compromise out of fear. There is an option and they know someone who is willing to take that option. That in itself can be revolutionary.

The other thing is that the ripples begin. One by one, others are affected by the burning flame. Inspired. Challenged. Mobilized. Slowly but surely. As each person steps out of their own cocoon of fear, they touch others. The first candle, once lit, can ignite others others. The magic comes through multiplication. If one "burning flame" has an impact on perhaps 30 people and leads three others to dare to stand as burning flames themselves, the process begins to ripple outwards. In six months, one burning flame could, from the ripple effect, have deeply affected 20,000 people and sparked 729 other burning flames. In twelve months, that same power would touch 16 million people and spark 531,000 other burning flames. It all depends on our willingness to first unveil the spark in our own hearts and stand in it publicly and powerfully. So, I urge others to first find what is in your inmost heart. What is that unique gift that you have for the world that every part of your being can unify behind? I then encourage you to find a political leader who is as close to that as possible and get behind them. Powerfully. No matter whether they seem electable or not. Because this is your statement to the world about who you are and what you want to see in the world. This is how you identify yourself to your allies. This is your empowerment and your blessing.

For me, I have chosen to be a burning flame for Dennis Kucinich. He is the most noble, intelligent, compassionate, and visionary person that I have seen run for president. He is a brightly burning flame himself, seeing through the veils of today to a better tomorrow. He is courageous and willing to lay himself on the line, to stride boldly in a time of fear.He is the kind of leader who can take America beyond aggressive nationalism to truly global leadership. For me, it doesnt matter whether Dennis Kucinich only gets 1% of the vote because he embodies what I want to see in the world. He is my political dream, in the flesh. Backing him is my statement to the world that THIS is the level of integrity I want to see in our leadership. THIS is the level of consciousness I want to see on the world stage. THIS is the kind of man I want to lead me. THIS is the future I want to see for America. THIS is the image I want to see in the media mirror. THIS is the world I want to live in. When I stand as a burning flame for him, it affects others. One by one. Through that process, Dennis becomes electable and the people who believe in what he represents begin to see themselves as powerful creators of our reality who have many, many, many allies. So dare to become a burning flame for what is in your heart and encourage other people to do so as well. They hunger for it. And you deserve it.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-08-04 11:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thank you, diamondsoul.
A very powerful piece. It offers insight into just why we stick with Dennis Kucinich no matter how many times we are bombarded with the know which ones I mean.

Every year we sing a particular song at the finale of our winter holiday program; it is a beautiful song, and especially touching sung by young voices. This year I was thinking exactly this as I listened to the kids sing. The song is appropriate. I don't have the composer here at home, but I know the song by heart. Here it is, my dedication for the Kucinich campaign:

Just One Candle

If I light just one candle and you light just one, too,

And we pass the flame from wick to wick,

From us to you and you

And if we keep it going around the world youll see

The world is glowing with the light that came from you and me!

With one candle, just one candle

Yes, one candle, burning bright.

With one candle, just one candle,

We can fill the world with light.

If we light just one candle and pass the flame to you,

All our light would glow from place to place,

And we would glow there too.

And when we keep it going the light will show the way

To touch the people round the world by shining night and day!

With one candle, just one candle

Yes, one candle, burning bright.

With one candle, just one candle,

We can fill the world with light.


I should send info to the campaign office.

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