“We need a new declaration of independence together with a new declaration of interdependence. Not only are all human beings created equal; all human beings are born creative and all human beings are irreducibly unique. In that precise sense, the unique creativity of every human being for her own sake and the sake of the whole is the purpose and joy of a human life. This realization moves us from the democratization of governance to the democratization of enlightenment.”
A Note to the Reader
This series is a spontaneous live talk given by Dr. Marc Gafni on the weekly broadcast One Mountain: Many Paths, founded by Gafni and his evolutionary partner Barbara Marx Hubbard.
This is an almost unedited and unplugged version of Dr. Gafni’s talk. Thus, the style of the piece is the spoken word and not a formal essay. In this series of short excerpts from Dr. Gafni’s talk we explore the deeper meaning of Independence Day.
Declaration of Interdependence Part 1-6 will be published in the upcoming days - stay tuned!
Can We Keep Democracy?
We are ready to pick up the baton and be the Founding Fathers and Founding Mothers. To step in to our digitized world and re-vision freedom and democracy.
Now let’s at least begin to explore what this actually means.
The World Our Founding Fathers Lived In
The Founding Fathers stepped into a world in which there was shared value. They realized that there was a shared sense of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. That shared value was, in some deep sense, drawn from the great traditions. It was drawn from the traditional period, from pre-modernity. These great traditions had a lot of things wrong with them. They had an enormous amount of corruption. But they also had insight, practice, and realization. So there was a sense in which modernity, drew from these great traditions a shared sense of value.
Not all of modernity did that. There were major strains in modernity that believed that there was no intrinsic value in Kosmos at all. But no one really made that the center of the conversation.
Even though people like David Hume and other major thinkers — who gave birth to postmodernity — believed that there was no intrinsic value in Kosmos, no one quite said it that way. It was not the center of the conversation. There was a set of what I call Common Sense Sacred Axioms that everyone lived by.
At the center of the conversation there were important thinkers like Adam Smith. Smith talked about, “The invisible hand of the market.” Or for example Comenius and other major thinkers. All of them knew that there was intrinsic value in Kosmos. They understood that this sense of intrinsic value, which was at the center of the great traditions, now has to be re-accessed in new ways. But even though they had broken with the great traditions — there is a clear discontinuity between the traditional and modern periods — for these thinkers there was also a core continuity in the discernment and knowing that we live in a value laden Kosmos and that value itself lives in us. And that modernity was responsible for the evolution of that core value beyond the ethnocentric claims of the traditional period. This was the great movement of modernity at its best.
Because the ethnocentric claims of premodernity are saying: “It’s my God and it’s my religion and I own God, and no one else’s God is real.” And the traditional world also claimed that God is outside of Reality and not inside of Reality. And the traditional world failed to sufficiently recognize the dignity of the human being. “I’m a small, paltry human being, and my only job is to be obedient”.
The majority of great thinkers in the modern period realized that those notions of pre-modernity were limited. And modernity tried to extrapolate, extract a set of universal values from pre-modernity, beyond the limited ethnocentric claims.
This is the world the Founding Fathers lived in. They assumed that we have this sense of universal values that we all share. Therefore we can create democracy. Because democracy is based on sense making. And you can only do sense making if you have a shared ground of value upon which it rests. If we have shared values, we can make sense of the world together. We can educate a citizenry to do sense making and to make decisions together.
With shared values, we can trust our voters. Our voters are going to be well-versed in these values that live inside of them. With shared values, voters are going to be educated, to participate and become the holders of the power of government. This is a government for the people, by the people. This was the great vision of the Founding Fathers.
The Need for Global Coherence: Articulating a Universal Grammar of Value
Thomas Jefferson writes in a number of places that, “Only the people themselves are the safe depository for the ultimate powers of society.” Jefferson writes that we can’t trust the government by itself. We can’t trust corporations. We can’t trust kings. We can only trust the people themselves.
When Benjamin Franklin is asked, after the Constitutional Convention in the United States, what kind of government was produced, he famously answers: “A republic, if you can keep it.” A republic means a democracy as we know it. “If you can keep it.” Can we keep that democracy?
It was Jefferson who said, “If I could have a perfect newspaper and a broken government, or a perfect government and a broken newspaper, I would take the perfect newspaper”. What Jefferson meant was that people need accurate information. People need to be able to do sensemaking. If they can do sensemaking, then they can actually fix the government. They can correct the mistakes. The true power then lies in the collective intelligence of the people who do collective sense making.
Government for the people, by the people.
George Washington understood this very well. He said that the most important goal of the federal government is the comprehensive education of every single citizen in the science of government. That’s shocking! The goal of the government itself was to educate the citizens in the science of government. Why? Because we relied on the citizens to do sensemaking. The citizens can do sensemaking if they can look at the issues and actually understand them. They need to get a really deep sense of the issues and bring their shared set of values to bear to evaluate them. In order to evaluate issues, to discern and make decisions, we need a shared set of values.
There is no sense making without shared values, what I call “A Universal Grammar of Value”. And there is no Universal Grammar of Value without some recognition of intrinsic value at some level of reality. Not eternal unchanging value, not eternal in the sense of everlasting time, but eternal value meaning eternal of being beneath time. And that eternal value also evolves. Eternal and evolving value. Being and becoming always live together as the two faces of the one. We need eternal evolving intrinsic value in order to articulate a shared ground of value, from which we can do shared sense making.
In part 5 we will talk about how a shared set of values generates the capacity to do shared sense making that creates global coherence. But first let us look tomorrow at a number of reasons why our current vision of democracy is failing.
In the fall we will be publishing a book, which is part of the Great Library that unpacked these themes of CosmoErotic Humanism in depth. Together with dear friend and colleague Zak Stein and the entire gang of thinkers, scholars, creators, and ontological activists, each more profound and wondrous then the next, the men and women that form the Office for the Future, and it’s sister structures, One Mountain, The Center for Integral Wisdom and Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Foundation for Conscious Evolution, we are deep in this conversation together. Join us please. Here is how you do it.
[This blogpost is almost all direct quotes from Dr. Marc Gafni collected from the raw transcript of the featured clip below, which is created from the free weekly broadcast of One Mountain, Many Paths, happening live every Sunday at 10 am PT]
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