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Instant Runoff Voting Excluded: An Unreasonable Omission from An Unreasonable Man

December 24th, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

An Unreasonable Man is a great movie about Ralph Nader. But I was deeply disappointed by the fact that it focused deeply on how Ralph’s “spoiler” role in the 2000 election tarnished his legacy, while failing to mention the flaws in our election system that unnecessarily allow for “spoilers” to exist. Instant Runoff Voting, which I helped pass in Ferndale, Michigan in 2004, is a pivotal measure that can open up a fair playing field to more voices in our political system by eliminating the “spoiler” problem.

In this post, I call on Ralph Nader, the filmmakers of An Unreasonable Man, Nader’s supporters and detractors, and everyone interviewed in the film, to join together to promote such election reform and groups like Fairvote that advocate for them. By refocusing our discussion and energy away from the flaws of Ralph Nader or the Democratic Party and onto these reforms, we can still turn the shameful aftermath of the 2000 election into a success that brings constructive change and lasting justice to our election system.


Emotional Responses to the Andrew Meyer & John Kerry Incident: A Psychological Study in Issues of Power, Anger and Authority

September 20th, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

In just the latest demonstration of how widespread video and web 2.0 technology is democratizing our media and revealing previously underexposed sides of our culture, much of the country has already seen footage of student Andrew Meyer being held down and tasered by police after rather angrily confronting Senator John Kerry with some controversial questions at a forum and resisting arrest. But more fascinating to me than the event itself have been the strongly emotional responses, both by those defending Meyer and those defending the police, which indicate the extent to which the incident evokes, for many of us, past experiences, defense mechanisms and projections revolving around issues of power, anger and authority. In this post, I discuss my view of this controversial story in the context of our current social state and the possible psychological and developmental roots of the actions of Andrew Meyer and the police, as well as people’s various responses.


My Scheme Team Dream: Partners Wanted for Shaping and Changing The World

September 19th, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Scheming – or creating schemas – helps us shape a clear understanding of how the various parts of systems relate and connect. It then empowers application through developing strategic, intriguing, and often subversive plans to create innovative change in the world – for better or for worse. After a period of undefined frustration, a discussion with a friend helped me pinpoint my recent lack of partners with whom to co-scheme as the root of my dissatisfaction.

In this post, I discuss what scheming means to me and its central role in my worldview and throughout my life in areas ranging from math, medicine and sports to relationships, politics and business. I explore key examples of special shared moments, evolutionary factors and enviably successful teams that explain the excitement and rewards of co-scheming. And, in the service of initiating connection and dialogue with dynamic new “partners in crime,” I describe the similar and complementary assets and qualities that I and they would ideally bring to such an emergent and generative partnership. Read my thoughts on the process and goals of co-scheming at its best and consider whether you might be one of the fellow co-schemers I’m looking for.


The Challenges of Accepting Civilization as Unsustainable and Unhealthy

August 27th, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn in 1997 first exposed me to the idea that civilization is an inherently unsustainable and unhealthy social structure. But it took further reading of works by Quinn and Derrick Jensen, along with greater experience, to help me increasingly incorporate this understanding into my life. Most recently, Jensen’s work Endgame impacted me with a particularly convincing presentation of civilization’s shortcomings from the concrete and powerful perspective of physical resource dynamics.

In this post, I examine the paramount importance of internalizing the implications of our social structure’s fundamental flaws, the experience of facing the impact of this understanding, why it is to difficult to fully internalize, the variety of ways that people respond to the issue, and how my growing acceptance of it has influenced my life journey. I then discuss the process of finding our optimal roles in the re-emergence of health and sustainability and the invaluable role of community and support as we do so.


What Michael Moore Really Teaches Us About Political and Social Change In America - Part 8

August 2nd, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Conclusion (Part 8 of 8)

Note: This is Part 8 of an eight-part series. You may want to start at Part 1 of the series, Summary and Table of Contents.

There are tremendous challenges in our world today. Michael Moore’s films have been some of the most powerful channels through which many of us have become aware of a number of them. However, the most important lessons to take away from his work and his success may be under-recognized. Read the rest of this entry »


What Michael Moore Really Teaches Us About Political and Social Change In America - Part 7

August 2nd, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

A Formula for Fundamental, Sustainable Political and Social Change in America (Part 7 of 8)

Note: This is Part 7 of an eight-part series. You may want to start at Part 1 of the series, Summary and Table of Contents.

The Inseparable Roles of Moral Courage and Campaign, Election and Media Reforms in Fundamental Political and Social Change in America

In order to optimally make improvements on the major symptomatic problems in our society, we simply must focus on both of these two fundamental aspects in tandem – the development and promotion of moral courage in an overly fearful populace and key reform measures in the areas of campaign, election and media reform. Read the rest of this entry »


What Michael Moore Really Teaches Us About Political and Social Change In America - Part 6

August 2nd, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Campaign, Election and Media Reform as Central Themes in Michael Moore’s Work (Part 6 of 8)

Note: This is Part 6 of an eight-part series. You may want to start at Part 1 of the series, Summary and Table of Contents.

While none of Michael Moore’s films focus primarily on campaign, election and media reform, like the issue of moral courage, these issues are touched on in all of them. For example, Moore focuses on the National Rifle Association and the power of gun lobbyists in Bowling for Columbine. He looks at how election system flaws led to George W. Bush’s presidency and his subsequent role in the Iraq War in Fahrenheit 9/11. In Sicko, Moore actually shows a scene in which he puts price tags over the heads of Congresspeople and President Bush, indicating how much money they received from the healthcare industry special interests. Moore also gave a scathing condemnation of the media in his interview regarding Sicko on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. Read the rest of this entry »


What Michael Moore Really Teaches Us About Political and Social Change In America - Part 5

August 2nd, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Campaign, Election and Media Reform: Levers and Leverage Points for Improving Our Society (Part 5 of 8)

Note: This is Part 5 of an eight-part series. You may want to start at Part 1 of the series, Summary and Table of Contents.

Moral Courage Alone Isn’t Enough

Clearly, moral courage, as discussed in Part 3, Moral Courage: A Required Virtue for Improving Our Society, is a necessary factor for positive change. But to have the optimal impact, it isn’t enough. The keys to creating change in any system include not only the willingness to speak up or act, but also the intellectual understanding of the appropriate tools to create change, as well as the effective places to apply those tools. Read the rest of this entry »


What Michael Moore Really Teaches Us About Political and Social Change In America - Part 4

August 2nd, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Moral Courage as a Central Theme in Michael Moore’s Work and Life (Part 4 of 8)

Note: This is Part 4 of an eight-part series. You may want to start at Part 1 of the series, Summary and Table of Contents.

I believe, and seeing Sicko again reinforced, that Michael Moore is one of our greatest examples of moral courage. He is far from perfect, he sometimes uses questionable tactics, and I’m fully aware of how controversial he is. But I feel that the work he does plays a crucial role in our society by provoking awareness and discussion among those who agree with him, those who disagree, and even those who previously were apathetic. As a sheer provocateur, he is a master. Read the rest of this entry »


What Michael Moore Really Teaches Us About Political and Social Change In America - Part 3

August 2nd, 2007 by Howard Ditkoff

Moral Courage: A Required Virtue for Improving Our Society (Part 3 of 8)

Note: This is Part 3 of an eight-part series. You may want to start at Part 1 of the series, Summary and Table of Contents.

Psychological Dissonance: The Cost of Keeping Quiet

In our society, we have a great number of “elephants in the room” – unjust events or conditions that take place in plain daylight, yet are often not spoken about or confronted openly. Corporate leaders commit scandalous acts while their workers must keep quiet. Billions of dollars are funneled into a war based on highly suspect intelligence, while citizens are told it is unpatriotic to question. Our culture teems with violence in its many forms, in our international relations, in our streets, and in our homes, while we continue to portray a polished image of polite prosperity. It is often, for various reasons, taboo or dangerous to acknowledge these issues as they are occurring. Read the rest of this entry »


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