angel Kyodo williams

Posts Tagged ‘xchange agents’

a more perfect union

In culture, leadership, politics, relationship, spirit on June 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

using our wholebody



Days after California’s Prop 8 was propped up by its Supreme Court, former vice president Dick Cheney unapologetically (of course) and righteously affirmed the novel idea that “freedom means freedom for everyone…people ought to be able to enter into any kind of union they wish.”

Many of us pulled the lever to cast our vote for an oddly hopeful promise of “a more perfect union” of our Divided States. We watch with our breath held, our hearts in our throats, ready to put our bodies on the line as our One Government lets individual Republics of imaginary divides decide one-by-one, state-by-state, who freedom means freedom for: our embodiment of a more perfect union catastrophically undone by an unwillingness to recognize our most precious union: the one of the heart.

In an historic constitutional referendum in Bolivia, the voters expressed their more perfect union through the powerful symbolic act of embracing a second official flag: the formerly illegal flag of the indigenous people and of the social movement that brought down the previous corrupt governments.

The seven-color Wiphala flag is arranged as 7×7 colors in a square:

Historically, it is the flag of the Incan territory that spanned Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina.
Culturally, it is the flag of the Aymara-Quechua Andean and Amerindian people.
Politically, it is pan-indigenous, multi-ethnic, cross-class and trans-issue. With it’s similarity to the Gay rainbow flag and use for urban social movements, it is becoming an international symbol for diversity and solidarity, equality and equity, dignity and reciprocity…all coming together.

A celebration of the order of cosmos, symbol of life and fertility, it’s rainbow covers the spectrum of colors and represents the honoring of all that should matter to a society:

  • RED for man and the earth
  • ORANGE for society and its expression through culture and education
  • YELLOW for energy and strength through collectivity
  • WHITE for time and community transformation
  • GREEN for natural resouces and the land
  • BLUE for the heavens and natural phenomena
  • Last, most powerfully and sanely, VIOLET for harmonious governance and self-determination of the people.

Taken as a whole and liberated from the neo-colonial closet, it represents that more perfect union that we should all strive for in our quest for a fair and equitable society.

Some worry that Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous President, may be inadvertently diminishing the symbol, as savvy politicians have been wont to do, putting a cursory end to movements of the people by absorbing their symbols and slogans into government. Our own Civil Rights Movement came to an abrupt, stunted and co-opted halt on Lyndon B. Johnson’s appropriative declaration that “we shall overcome.”

But as powerful as symbols, phrases and slogans are, they only derive their energy from the wellspring of the people they represent. People that don’t just stand in the truth, but express it through the way they live. And just as “words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights” the more perfect union we seek for this country will not arise from a speech, a bailout, or even a healthcare plan.

What it will arise from is the embodiment of that more perfect union by folks that know and act on what’s right: like the whites and blacks that fraternized in backwoods jook joints, using rhythm to find harmony. From learning how to dance together, they eventually found the ability to pray, sit and stand together “always at great risk.”

It will arise from the embodiment of principles in and by the people that show up every day to “narrow the gap” between the hope for our society and “the reality of (our) time.” It will arise through the embodiment of actions that manifest the longing held in our hearts, the vision that we cannot yet see, but can feel the truth of in our very core. Thus with great faith, we reach inward, act outward, and move toward it. Our more perfect union will arise from within the people.

Some think this union will come as the result of the broad view of Analysis: political, social, grounded. Others believe we’ll be brought together by the deep current of Spirit: fundamental, ethical, rooted.

In the end, it will express itself as nothing that we currently know of, but rather as a constellation, integration and distillation of all. It will be individually-particularized, collectively-driven and universally-appealing. It will be a social movement because we are social creatures that can form the shape that expresses what we wish to become. It will be a cultural movement because together we create the conditions in which new ways can thrive. It will be self-determined and other-honoring. It will be systemic, endemic and talismanic. More than anything, it will, because it must, be transformative. Our more perfect union will be neither this nor that. Leaving nothing and none of us behind, it will be WholeBody: a Third Way that embraces and embodies being fully Human: ever-evolutionary, ever-revolutionary, ever-dynamic and always Divine.

From there, state-by-state and heart-by-heart, in our more perfect union, we can get Dick Cheney’s wish granted.

Jai Bhim! We shall overcome…Si, se puede. A Better World is Possible. Venceremos…Yes, we can. By any means necessary: Power to the People. Power by the People. Power FROM the People.


copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams.

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary and
founder of the Center for Transformative Change.
permission granted to retweet, repost, repaste & repeat with contact information intact.

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seven deadly sins of change

In culture, leadership, relationship, spirit on April 9, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Super Om, Courtesy of Students for A Free Tibet: http://www.studentsforafreetibet.org

a superhero’s funding and field guide to transformation

While then-candidate Obama wooed the electorate into an oddly fleeting historic moment with his steady call for us to all be Agents of Change, those of us that have been stealthily exchanging our glasses for capes with only tepid results to show for it know that we need more than ordinary change to get us out of the one-step left, two-steps right shuffle our social justice agenda has been stymied by for the past 50 years. We need the kind of change that leads to deep-rooted, broad-based, sustainable lasting change that can’t be rolled back with the swirl of a pen or crushed under a wave of conservative backlash. We need Transformative Change.

We’ve been secretly biding our time in serene anticipation of the Fall of American Consumptive Ways. With a complex mix of dismay and satisfaction, we hold appropriate, compassionate empathy for the folks that are the least buffered from even subtle turnabouts in the economic winds, much less the comparative financial tsunami of the past seven months. This is expressed with The Deeply Furrowed Brow of Concern. But understanding that our collective faces hitting the floor may be our only Wakeup Call, that concern co-mingles with The Subtle-But-Knowing Smile of Approval.

Yoda would be proud.

Even Time Magazine’s cover pronounces “The End of Excess” with a picture of a great big reset button along with the rhetorical inquiry: “Is This Crisis Good for America?” Well, of course it is. When you view your life and the world through the lens of transformation, you recognize that any upset or tragedy is really an opportunity for another level of growth and deeper understanding. You run with it rather than away from it. The caveat is that because the Grand Designer made a package deal of Free Will and the Breath of Life, it’s entirely up to us to either seize the opportunity to find a new Way to become that which we all inexorably endeavor to become: a Whole Human. If not, we’ll return to our previous incomplete state: driven by fear and panic, desperately and pathetically groping for what is familiar but no longer viable, if it ever was. When that window of opportunity passes, the Universe has to conjure up another greater tragedy for us to get the message. Time’s rallying cry calls for us to “make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and be entirely ready to remove our defects of character.”

The Watchmen for Change are made up of Freedom Fighters, Organizers, Agitators and Activists paired with the folks that, like it or not, foot the bills. In a perfected partnership, they are our Supporters, Advocates, Advisors and Allies. Some of us pay with the currency of creativity, vitality, energy and soulforce. Others pay with hopefulness, steadfastness, wild cheering and dollar bills, y’all.

Together we are the Jedis of Justice. We are The Ones that We have Been Waiting for to illuminate the Matrix and reveal the passage out of Babylon. We are the Agents of Transformative Social Change. X-Agents for short. (Yea, I know, but X-Men was already taken and it’s chauvinist anyway…)

So what are our collective defects of character, the Kryptonite that saps our power, woos us to the Dark Side and is an impenetrable barrier to a movement of truly Transformative Social Change that we both envision and are beckoned by?

Here are Seven Deadly Sins of Change and their respective Virtuous behavioral antidotes:

1. Release Lust: Bigger is not better. Hasn’t the economic bubble splat taught us that? The organizations that have become the biggest are not necessarily the best. The day of the 900-lb Gorilla eating up all the resources because they can should be over. It leaves the rest of the creatures of the forest to fight amongst themselves for scraps. Real innovation gets crowded out by behemoths. We all lose.

Practice Chastity: Consume only what you need to sustain real, viable work, not just what will get you funding because its the buzz. Pass on the rest and pass the plate.

2. Release Gluttony: On the other hand, there’s just too many of us. We’ve got an organization for every issue, identity and incident, each scavenging for five crumbs. As a result, we’re disorganized, disconnected and still disenfranchised. We resist the natural cycle of organizational death because we’ve tied our livelihoods up with our causes. We start organizations to avoid corporate life but end up being slaves to those institutions, too. Creativity is curtailed and resources are spread too thin. Death, no matter how painful, gives way to fresh, viable life.

Practice Temperance: Is your organization serving you or are you serving your organization? Is your work changing THE World, not just your world? If not, Merge. Fold. Find your new path. Be Reborn in the next life. We’ll all benefit from a nimbler, better-resourced movement.

3. Release Greed: Grantmakers have lost almost one-third of their assets. Never mind that foundations are only required to give 5 percent of those endowments, most of which were ill-gained to begin with. I always say “when it’s your house that’s burning down, you don’t use 5% of the water you have to save the rest for the fire that might come in the future. You use the whole damn bucket…”

Practice Charity: Charity of common sense, that is. Raise giving to a mere 15% of that monopoly money. Even with 30% losses, you’ll be giving more than double what you gave when you were flush and we’ll all be twice as far along.

4. Release Sloth: When it comes to the task of being the change we wish to see, we’re pretty damn lazy. Our movements are constipated, our coalitions siloed, our collaborations fractured, our organizations top-down, and our personal practice is toenail-deep. We’re tall on rhetoric, short on application. We want sustainability while we work ourselves to exhaustion. We insist on Universal Healthcare and Ubiquitous McDonald’s. We want green job access and plastic bag convenience. We strive for environmental justice and allow “feed-animal” damnation.

Practice Diligence: We have to PRACTICE what we’re preaching for. It’s all connected and it starts with you: Eat healthy, Pray frequently, Love deeply. And to keep it all in perspective, Dance wildly.

5. Release Wrath: The lifeforce of our work is still choked by useless “us vs. them” ego-tripping and bad attitudes. These issues need to be addressed at the roots. We’ll never make peace with others until we make peace within ourselves. Transformative Change is only possible when the people doing the change are changing themselves.

Practice Patience: Heal and Love Thyself. Start working out your issues at your Inner Gym. Watch your mind and notice how it wreaks havoc on reality. Find ways to lower the volume on the internal noise that makes you a walking time bomb of contraction and imbalance. Do Yoga. Meditation. Centering Prayer. Better yet, let them do you. Save your heart, save the world.

6. Release Envy: Funders, you matter. So stop inserting yourselves to assert your Selves. While many of you live vicariously and combat boredom by dreaming up new projects, frontliners are busting their tails out there and still they’re relegated to using up to 40% of their energy to raise money for their work. Change will only take place through real leadership, partnerships and collaboration. Every good partnership is borne of knowing your role and contribution and honoring that of your partners. Stop hating on changemakers because you envy their courage while fearing the direct experience it arises from. Funders should fund and let the people that work the frontlines work…not scurry, scrape and suck up for funds.

Practice Kindness: With yourselves, first and foremost. Tend to the wounds that excessive privilege imprisons and burdens you with. Letting your money or control of it front as self-worth leads to narcissism, self-centeredness and a profound emptiness that compels you to a never-ending search for fulfillment. Give your burden away…even some of the sacred principal. You’ll be free to be you and not your money. I repeat: Save your heart, save the world.

7. Release Pride: The failure point of Pride, when it leaves good and turns sour, is “failing to acknowledge the good work of others.” If you really want change, enable people to do the work of change for real. If this is a platform for your personal whims, but you actually fear what real change looks like–yes, you’ll have to give things up: money, land, status, control, privilege, power, privilege–stay home, watch reruns of ER and stop wasting your own and our time.

Practice Humility: Fund what works broadly and deeply. But more importantly at this moment, fund risk. Fund bold efforts that are unknown, untested, untried. Fund creative solutions to intractable problems and expect no guarantees in return. If it makes you nervous, fund it.

Together, we, the Practitioners and Funders, Agents, Activists and Allies of Change need to be the “Real American Idols”(trademark pending), the New Super Heroes and Sheroes that take up our part day-to-day to do the ordinary work of changing the world while doing the extraordinary work of changing ourselves.

I know we’re up to the task of seizing the real opportunity that is at hand–to live, love and lead from heart–one by one kick-ass X-Agent at a time.


copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams.

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary and
founder of the Center for Transformative Change.
permission granted to retweet, repost, repaste & repeat with contact information intact.
Fan angel on Facebook
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angel on her blog