The Great Upwising

It’s Time For We the People to Face the Music and Dance Together

“There are no sides, only angles. And when we see it from the right angle, we are all on the same side.” — Swami Beyondananda

One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from the 1951 classic, African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. The film is set in Africa at the dawn of World War I, and the heroine and hero are struggling to get their little boat, The African Queen, through a mucky channel to the open sea. The ship’s propeller is broken, so they are slogging through the bog pulling the boat with a rope through the deadening heat. Finally, they can go no further. They are exhausted, and realize they are doomed. They lay down on the boat’s deck, ready to die.

At that point, the camera pans up and we see they are a very, very short distance from the sea. Then suddenly, there is a downpour, and the rising waters from the typhoon lift their boat, and sail them out to open waters.

Call me a hopeless hopium addict, but I believe that we — the sane and reverent* Americans on all sides — are “in the same boat”. Our ship of state has run aground, because the “propeller” (the guiding principles of our founders, along with perennial and native wisdom) is broken. The rule of gold has overruled the Golden Rule. In the place of the sacred, we have been leveraged to live by the principles of predatory, extractor capitalism: Doo-doo unto others before they can doo-doo unto you.

And what will lift our boat is nothing short of an “upwising” on all sides, where we wake up to how we’ve been divided into two warring tribes, and consequently “conquered” by those who benefit from keeping the body politic in ignorance and turmoil. When we “wise up” to how much we the people truly have in common, and how much more powerful we are united around the virtues and values we share, then we’re in “open water”, ready to face the daunting real problems we have with equanimity, creativity, resourcefulness, determination, and love.

In the half a year — hard to believe as it is — since Election Day, I have gone through what many others who identify with the progressive “tribe” have experienced. My immediate concerns were threefold: First, the families that will be unnecessarily and cruelly broken up by the immigration crackdown. Second, going way backward on the environment and climate change. Third, and most dangerous is a “lone nut” whose party is in control of all branches of government, with no qualms about making himself dictator.

One thing I recognized immediately was that Trump didn’t win — Hillary and the Democratic Party she and Bill created 25 years ago — lost. They lost because their brand, “We’re not as bad as the other guys”, didn’t work anymore. People were waking up left (Bernie) and right (Trump) and Hillary was stuck defending an indefensible status quo.

In light (or dark) of that realization, here’s what I did.

I took a deep breath, and then a deeper look at “deep history” to see how we got to where we are. Immediately after the election, Trudy and I watched every episode of Oliver Stone’s 12-part series, The Untold History of the United States. Watching this was a sobering reminder of the Democratic Party’s role in enabling predator capitalism, from the purge of Henry Wallace as Vice President in 1944, to allowing and empowering the secret government since the end of World War II.

And then I reached out to my friends and colleagues who chose Donald Trump as THEIR lesser evil. In the atmosphere of polarization and misunderstanding fed by the media (on both sides) the easiest thing in the world is to see and fixate on the “shadow” of our opponent. It’s in seeing and acknowledging our own shadow that true learning and breakthrough takes place.

There is no need to elaborate on the shadow, and the flaws of Donald Trump. Even those who voted for him — at least the ones I know — have no illusion in that regard. It’s in seeing the shadow of progressive liberalism, the contradictions and disconnections behind the well-meaning façade of caring and compassion, that we can find an awareness deep enough to transform a toxically unworkable system to one that moves us toward “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”

Before I offer two pieces — another article and an interview — that are guaranteed to upset the applecart of established progressive thinking, I want to share a bit more about my own journey. In December, someone sent me a 90-page article by Ken Wilber that you can now download, “Trump In a Post-Truth World” that calls the election “a backlash against the failure of the leading edge of consciousness (postmodernism and pluralism) to acknowledge the lie underlying the progress they’ve pursued.” The blind spot of progressivism — to tolerate everything except intolerance, expressed through the rigid application of political correctness — has replaced truth and justice with identity politics, and prevented us collectively from facing the deeper and more disturbing issues, often conveniently dismissed as “conspiracy theories.” (This eye-opening interview with journalist Mark Crispin Miller is well-worth watching!)

The gateway to transformation is clear-eyed self-reflection, and in that spirit I offer an article that might be even harder medicine to swallow than the Ken Wilber piece. It’s by Andrew Markell,  and the title only begins to unravel the yarn that has made “liberalism” a convenient tool of the exploiter/extractor class, The Progressive/Liberal Mind: Lost, Confused and a Strategic Failure.

No, folks. This is not masochistic self-flagellation but a clear-eyed assessment of how progressivism has worked “perfectly” to keep the current system in place — all the while giving the impression it is working “against” the forces of exploitation. Remember, the truth shall upset you free.

Just as surely as the upwising entails recognizing the shadow of our “opponents”, the exploiters and extractors, it is equally important to see how “resistance” itself is a fixed game, being played by the exploiters’ rules.

So … what do we do instead?

I’m glad I asked that question.

To answer it, we need to venture a bit further out of the (ballot) box, and for that purpose, I’ve linked to a provocative and yet promising interview with a blunt and visionary one-time Marine Corps and CIA intelligence officer, Robert David Steele.


Trudy and I met Robert — and his colleague on a new transpartisan venture, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) — at the Transpartisan Citizens Summit in 2009. While you might not agree with everything he says, Robert is one of the few out there who understands why and how we need to overgrow the “two-party tyranny”. He is also an advocate of “open source intelligence” and truth and reconciliation. The intention of the movement they are launching — Unrig: Beyond Trump and Sanders is to awaken awareness of the “deep state” and coalesce a movement for electoral reform (the Election Reform Act of 2017) to make sure the missing ingredient in government by the people — the people — are actually represented. The planks include:

  • Universal registration of voters, including prisoners
  • Free and equal ballot access for all citizens
  • Tightly drawn, un-gerrymandered districts
  • Free and equal public funding
  • Free and equal media access
  • Inclusive debates
  • Open primaries
  • Election Day holiday, free public transport
  • Paper ballots and exit polls
  • Ranked choice voting, instant runoff to include minority party candidates
  • Transparency in legislation — no secret clauses
  • Economic and financial democracy — end opposition to unions, nationalize central banks

Recognizing that this platform has been formulated by a “left-winger” and a “right-winger” should be cause for encouragement, if not celebration. To me it illustrates what can happen when left and right come front and center to create a new conversation, instead of the divisive one that has kept corruption in the driver’s seat.

Oh, and in relation to the movie introduced at the beginning of this article, in Hollywood, the rains can magically come out of the sky and lift our boats. In the real world, we the people have to be the “rainmakers”.

Long may we “rain”!



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A New Precedent for President’s Day

It’s Time to Face the Elephant (and Donkey) in the Living Room … Together

“Only when red tribe Republicans and blue tribe Democrats stand together as one Purple People, will the peeps prevail over the perps. ” — Swami Beyondananda


We interrupt the insanity to bring you an important President’s Day message.

We the people of America are on the cusp of a Constitutional crisis. And if that crisis DOESN’T emerge, then we are REALLY in trouble. In the wake of the most toxic election in recent history, where we had two terrible candidates to choose from and one of them won by default, America is no longer divided merely into two tribes — we are now living in two realities.

Talk about a house divided.

At least in the run-up to the Civil War, with the dividing issue as slavery, everyone knew what slavery was, and both sides recognized slavery as a reality. They just disagreed about whether it was to continue.

In one 2017 “reality”, President Trump is the fearless leader who will save us from terrorism, undocumented alien criminals, nuclear war with Russia, and from the corrupt “new world order” — not to mention pedophilia in high places. It’s Trump’s word against the “fake news” media, and everything he says is true.

Meanwhile in the other world, we have an insane liar as a President who creates his own reality and has millions of ditto-heads who will believe every unbelievable word he utters. In this reality, people see something even worse than the neoliberal empire — a kleptocracy where we not only have to deal with that big Putin, but we have our own Lil’ Putin to divide the spoils, while spoiling the natural world.

Each of these narratives is both true and not true, and only by seeing them through a meta-view can we survive this crisis that threatens our social order, our freedom and sacred institutions, and the web of life itself.

The bad news and the good news are one and the same: Our current political system cannot fix itself. We the people are the only ones — speaking in one voice and showing up in YUGE numbers — that can do the necessary intervention to hold our government and once-trusted press accountable.

So here are some new assertions that I believe point us in the direction of a common truth, and a common reality — that can be a starting place to restore sanity, and re-establish the heart and soul of who we are, beneath the fear and manipulation:

  1. We have a deeply UNITED body politic. The overwhelming majority of Americans are disgusted and fed up with the system as it is. This includes the majority of Trump voters, Hillary voters, Bernie voters and those who supported minority parties.
  1. Donald Trump lies with impunity … AND … the mainstream media has lied for years by withholding inconvenient truths.
  1. There IS such a thing as the “deep state” — a secret government that has been in operation since the end of World War II — and the “elephant and donkey in the living room” is that both political parties are ruled (or overruled) by the deep state.
  1. The current power struggle — Steve Bannon vs. the CIA — is a struggle between two ruling elites, neither of which have the best interests of the American people or the commonwealth at heart. In other words, what if they gave a war and there were no good guys?
  1. To further complexify the shituation, the most sophisticated mind-manipulation techniques have been employed to insure that people stay inside their “silo” and only get news (real or fake) that reinforce what they already believe. (Here is an eye-opening article on “weaponized propaganda” that shows you how it’s done).
  1. Trust in the government and trust in the media is at an all-time low. There is no such thing anymore as consensus reality. And … as long as we are divided not just into two tribes but two realities, we cannot unify around fair and just rules of governance. To put it bluntly, we the people have been divided, and consequently conquered.
  1. As the gap between these two “realities” deepens, the two sides are becoming more entrenched, forgetting they have been leveraged into seeing only the other side’s shadow, not their own. A perfect recent example involves the “progressives” who physically prevented right-winger Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on the Berkeley campus.
  1. A central factor in the lack of a shared reality is the “absence of the sacred” at the center of our society. Where there is no “heart” at our core, heartlessness prevails, and disheartenment spreads. Because the rule of gold has overgrown the Golden Rule, we have seen “ethic cleansing” — the ethical people are washed out of our system where the “free speech” of money out-shouts all other interests.

OK, so assuming that’s “what’s so” … so what?

At the risk of hearing, “You’re proposing a sane world — you must be crazy!” here is what I suggest:

  1. What if independent citizens united? What if — in the tradition of the Consumer Union and Common Cause — we the people from all sides and angles created our own “citizens union” to advocate for our common interests and a healthy, wealthy commonwealth?
  1. What if we called forth, curated and supported a truly independent media, that drew from mainstream news, alt left and alt right so that we the people could emerge with a “likelier story” and a truth-based reality?
  1. What if we the American people — united, left and right — launched a “truth movement” so together we could learn about the origins, developments, deeds and misdeeds of the deep state, and consequently dismantle it? (This might not work if a mere million people called for this, like the number demanding the release of Donald Trump’s taxes, but if 25 million or 50 million showed up, that would be a different story. It would mean that a critical mass of the heretofore uncritical masses were aware of the “deep state”, and that would be a key first step in transforming it.)
  1. What if we created an independent political authority — and unifying platform — designed to “overgrow” the entire impeachable system, and then only voted for candidates who agreed to support this new “deep center” political movement that transcends political parties?
  1. What if we had a place where citizens could gather virtually where we could become aware of and expose the toxic forms of citizen manipulation, rendering them ineffective?
  1. What if a YUGE number of us united around uniform rules for verifiable voting, unhackable machines or paper ballots, and standard procedures for recount — so that the results of all elections are impeccable, and unquestionably honest?
  1. What if we initiated national conversations across political divides (like the Living Room Conversations are already doing) to cultivate civil discourse, mutual understanding, appreciation of how conservative and progressive values complement each other, and even begin to collaborate on transpartisan legislation, including voting and campaign finance reform?
  1. What if we gathered religious, secular ethical and spiritual leaders and organizations to convene a “truth and reconciliation” movement to reveal and heal the political shadow that has been haunting us and has stolen our integrity, our heart and our soul? And … what if we likewise gathered around the things that we want for ourselves, our families, community, country and world, and set a common intention for our country?

This may sound “utopian” but as the great visionary philosopher Bucky Fuller pointed out in his book with the same name, our choice is “utopia or oblivion.” In other words, unless we create heaven together … we’re stuck in hell.

And that Constitutional crisis is on its way.

I’ll put it this way. The only way Donald Trump’s war on reality can continue is if enough people pretend he is sane AND steps are taken to repress the contradictory, fact-based reality. Already he has come up against judges saying, “Not so fast, cowboy,” and while he has issued directives left and right (mostly right), many of these will not hold, particularly as Congressfolks return home to hear from their constituents.

The danger is that the assessment of Donald Trump’s integrity, discernment and sanity will become just another left-right issue, like “climate change” — you say it’s this, well I say it’s that, so there.

That is why it is all the more important for an independent political voice and authority emerge from “deep center” — that is, not just smoothing over polarized differences but using those differences as a dynamic to reach a higher and deeper truth, that address the real and not merely the cosmetic issues in front of us.

When that loud and clear voice of 10 or 20 or 50 million Americans say, “ENOUGH of this toxic bullshit — let’s get REAL, together” the media will have to report it, and our government will have to respond to it. Instead of government by default, and institutionalized and entrenched corruption, we will have the capacity for ordinary citizens to work together instead of fighting one another.

So here is the key question. We already know we don’t trust the government, and don’t trust the media. The question is, do we trust ourselves? Do we trust in the capacity for ordinary citizens to glean extraordinary wisdom through respectful conversation and open-minded (and open-hearted) listening? Do we trust that there IS a healthy, sane, coherent heart and soul beneath the toxic expressions of “politics as usual”?

I am reminded of another President’s Day weekend eight years ago, where a couple of hundred “transpartisan activists” celebrated the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth at the Transpartisan Citizens Summit in Denver. You’ve probably never heard of this event, likely because the idea of an emergent independent citizens movement that cultivates the best of what progressivism and conservatism has to offer was an idea whose time had not yet come. In February 2009, the body politic — at least on the progressive side — was still high on hopium. And too many people, comfy in their ideological silo, were strung out on that other drug, Deniatol.

Obviously, we the people have needed the sobering experience of the 2016 electoral season to ask, “Is there another way?”

There is.

In case you are curious, you can watch a video on transpartisan engagement featuring my colleague, Joseph McCormick.

The seeds are there for a new deep center movement. Now it is up to us to plant them, so that by the time 2020 rolls around — sooner, actually — there is an awakened, integral movement of citizens that leads from deep center: a true American evolution. Only by evolving beyond the bipolar insanity of this-or-that politics will our 240-year experiment survive.

Comments are welcome! If you see sanity and possibility in this approach, please respond to this and I will keep you apprised of developments.

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After the Women’s March – Focus Our Massive Energy on THIS ONE ISSUE

“Now that the math is done, time to focus on the aftermath.”

— Swami Beyondananda

Last weekend, women — and men, and children — showed up in record numbers in Washington, D.C. and hundreds of other cities to say YES to the reality “we’re all in this together” and NO to Donald Trump’s “alternative reality” that he seems intent on imposing on the rest of us.

Alternative “facts” to the contrary, the March numbers were YUGE. And now that the math is confirmed, it’s time to create momentum in the aftermath.

My colleague Richard Lang, CEO of Democrasoft, and author of a forthcoming book on citizen engagement in the digital age, came up with a plan to gather record-breaking numbers of people in ONE significant place to hold our president accountable to the rule of law. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics or policies, we must insist that our laws apply even to the President.

I will let Richard present this idea himself … I strongly encourage you to read it all the way through, because you will be encouraged by the end. And if you are I encourage you to ACT, to SHARE, and then to SHARE some more.

Steve Bhaerman

After the Women’s March:

Focus Our Massive Numbers On This One Issue And Get Immediate Results

In the wake of the incredibly successful Women’s Marches around the country and around the world, we now have an even greater strategic window of opportunity for citizens to act in one accord and take our momentum to the next level.

Our window of time is just the next three weeks! Please stay with me – this is really, really important, and you probably were not aware of it.

At the same time as record numbers of Americans mobilized for the Women’s Marches across the country, another equally significant civic engagement event was just getting started and is now fully in process. It represents a profoundly important opportunity. Let’s not miss it…

On January 20th, someone posted a new petition on the official White House website devoted to citizen petitions ( The petition calls for Donald Trump to release his tax returns in order to prove that he is not in violation of the Emoluments Clause (which protects the country against conflicts of interest and illegal foreign relationships while in office).

There are several noteworthy aspects to this particular petition, but the most important one is the speed with which it has already gained traction. Usually, petitions on the White House petition site achieve a few thousand signatures at best (and it takes a minimum of 100,000 signatures within a 30 day period to force an official response from the White House).

This new petition, filed the day of Mr. Trump’s inauguration (and which expires February 19th), generated over 100,000 signatures in the first 24 hours. Within 72 hours, the number had already more than doubled to approximately 220,000 signatures. At this time of this publication two days later, the number had risen again, to well over 300,000 signatures and counting, with another 25 days left to collect additional signatures. All this with ZERO promotion.

Now imagine what could happen with a concerted effort.

While the energy is still in high gear from the Women’s Marches and a growing number of awakened citizens are looking for the next effective way to mobilize their energy to protect the integrity of our democracy, this simple but powerful petition presents the opportunity to galvanize many millions of voices across the nation. These aligned voices can be channeled into one collective voice pointing directly to one place: the TrumpTaxReturns petition.

As evidence that THIS is the issue to galvanize around, here is the headline on Sunday, Jan 22, 2017:

After Promising To Release His Tax Returns, Trump Aide Says He Wont Because ‘People Didnt Care

       “Seventy-four percent of Americans want Trump to release his tax returns.”

With a concerted collective effort involving the same organizations and individuals that helped organize the hugely successful Women’s March, and with support from the many, many other organizations and passionate individuals across the land, this simple, straightforward and non-partisan petition could easily collect millions of signatures in the next three weeks or so remaining before the February 19 deadline!

When the news media picks up the story of how citizens across the country are focusing their collective energy on the White House’s own website and achieving an online turnout never before seen in the history of our country, the attention will drive citizen participation even further.

The 3 steps to this completely achievable strategy are as follows:

  1. Focus ALL citizen attention on this single petition (because of its existing momentum) and shoot for at least 1 million signatures in the next 25 days (I personally think we may be able to do a LOT better than that).
  1. Spread the word, fast.Use ALL our networks, social media, email, etc. to help this single petition go viral. Putting our laser focus in one spot will command media attention. It will be the largest virtual assembly of citizens ever in the U.S. (it has already shattered records at the “official” White House Petition site).
  1. Make sure that the media is aware of this effort and is covering what is sure to be a record participation event (because We the People will make it so). They will be looking for a story like this.

The great news is that the momentum is already underway. This is pouring gasoline on a fire that is already burning brightly.

So, what can we expect from Trump in response if millions of Americans focus their numbers into a single online location on a matter of obvious national importance (that challenges Donald Trump to be in compliance with the rule of law, in this case our Constitution’s Emoluments Clause)?

One of 3 things will happen:

  1. Trump will close down this petition, offering whatever reason he chooses, which will probably include tweets that these are not “real” signatures or that there is some other “technical” reason justifying the shut down. But this will be on the “Official” White House website, not some “fake news” source that can be easily dismissed.
  1. Trump will ignore the petition. But he won’t be able to say it’s because “people didn’t care.” And the longer he ignores the issue, in the face of millions of citizen signatures, and growing, the more difficult and ridiculous his position will be.
  1. The pressure on Trump will be too much and he will have to release his taxes. Well, we all know this is the least likely outcome. But if by some chance it happens, We the People will have used the non-violent power of participation to take an active role in our democracy and actually gotten results (what a concept)!

We have about three full weeks to coordinate our efforts through all of our networks, and to show up en masse to have our voices heard. The recent marches across the country were profoundly encouraging, and now it’s time to build on that momentum.

Let’s demonstrate that we can generate even larger numbers online at a single venue.

Let’s take proactive action and show ‘em what happens when real democracy goes into high gear.

Richard Lang

January 24, 2017

To Sign the Petition, go here:

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