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Reading dailyKos the last few days has been depressing and scary.  A lot of people here are exposing a lot of maggots, and it's scary to see what's under the rocks.  Necessary, but scary.  But it's not enought to expose maggots.  We must also plant crass.  Otherwise, our landscape will be just a lot of upturned rocks and dirt.

Most people aren't devils or gods, they're just ordinary shmoes trying to get along in the world, not thinking too much, just putting food on the table and themselves in a chair before a TV.  They listen to what their leaders say because it's easy, and they don't question because that's hard.

Winning the hearts and minds of the leaders of the opposition may be impossible; but winning the hearts and minds of these people - the ordinary people - is possible.  We just have to plant some grass.

I have some ideas below the fold.  But not nearly enough.  I need your help - this community's help.  Together we do have the brains, the talent, and the wherewithal to plant a lot of grass. The seeds are there.

I have sometimes played a game with myself:
Suppose you had a fortune.  A Gates-like fortune.  What would you do?

One thing I'd like to do is start rewarding acts that promote a civil society.  What do I mean?  What acts would promote such a society?  It could be a lot of things.  In another thread yesterday, I posted about a story I remembered about a town in Montana where they put a stop to bigotry.  Naturally, a kog tracked it down - thanks word is bond, and here it is: Billings.  There are other people like that police chief.  People we don't hear about.  Let's find them.  Let's reward them.  Let's give them publicity.  

Or what happened to the people in a small town in Tennessee where one person decided they didn't know enough about differences: I wrote about The great film that came out of this.

Let's distribute those films. Buy a copy or two.  Send it off to someone somewhere.  

Another is the simple acts of random kindness that go on each day, that we see, here and there, like the type of thing that AlanF reported on in Rena, Lungfish and a Stolen Hat.  Good acts.  Acts that promote tolerance.  Acts that promote a civil society.

These people are rare, but they aren't unknown.  Even if only 1 in 1,000 Americans are like that - well that's 300,000 people.  We can find them.  We can publicize them.

It's necessary, of course, to expose the maggots.  I applaud the work that many kogs do to expose them.  But, while it is necessary to expose the maggots, it is our own act of bigotry to assume that everything that lives under the rock is and always will be a maggot.  Some are just people who have never seen light.  

But I need your help.  I know nothing about marketing.  I bet there are kogs who do.  I don't know that many good stories.  But I bet there are kogs who do.  

Thanks for reading

(oh, and one other thing, given what's going on, I'd rather not use the term kossack.  My ancestors were likely raped by cossacks.  I used kogs - but I am open to suggestion)

Originally posted to plf515 on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 03:37 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (10+ / 0-)

    It's about 6:40 here in NYC now.  I will be out for a bit, then on and off all day.  I look forward to your comments.

    Please recommend.  Unlike most of my diaries, this one isn't about me, or statistics, or some small group.  This one is for all of us.  

    thanks

    Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

    by plf515 on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 03:35:34 AM PDT

  •  it's now almost 8 in Williamsburg VA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    word is bond, plf515

    and I didn't want you to feel ignored.

    I have wondered what I would do.   Clearly some of my money would go towards education at a variety of levels.  But I have trouble figuring out how.  I have seen Gates do this with his smaller schools initiative.  I have seen Eli Broad also work in this area, especially with the work of training principals and superintendents.  But I don't have a clear vision.

    I am reminded of the episode from West Wing where a super wealthy man asks CJ what she would do, and she talked abou infrastructure in 3rd world countries.  I actually think that is a legitimate cause, but I worry about how it could be done without it creating a huge imbalance within the nations.

    A part of me would like to follow the model of the Grameen Bank and the one American model of which I know, the South Shore (or is it South Side) model  -- the idea of establishing a lot of microlending centers not designed to make a profit per se, but to be self-sustaining, in order to enable community development from the ground up.

    I suppose I would want to fund something that would enable people to do things like provide legal services to the poor, and other service type occupations that many cannot afford to do, especially in our more expensive metropolitan areas.

    I can think of several specific academic institutions I would fund -- Alverno College in Milwaukee which is doing some ground-breaking work in teacher training.  Berea College in Kentucky, which has served a wonderful purpose within Appalachia.  Deep Springs, a junior college in the California desert associated with the Telluride Society which takes brilliant people and has them living and working in community while doing the practical tasks of sustaining their community.  

    Wish I had more time to offer ideas.  But since I will never have that kind of money, I do have to spend time and energy on those things where I can now make a difference.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 04:58:34 AM PDT

  •  a term I heard at yKos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515

    kosmopolitans sounds nicer than kogs to my ear.

    As far as building civic society, check out this diary last night on dignity and rankism.

  •  A general suggestion (0+ / 0-)

    There are many, many good things that our government could be doing.  They cost money, but as Clinton has pointed out they are cheaper than wars.

    The problem is that our government has been hijacked by the neocons – the maggots as you call them.  I think it is obvious to all that just a fraction of the money (and lives) wasted on the needless war in Iraq would do a lot of wonderful things.  But first we have to take back the government.

    So, when you comment or run a diary, I suggest you repeat the mantra that neocon policy x is a waste of our resources that could be used to do y.  Squash the maggot and replace it with a tree.  Vote Democratic

    •  My point (0+ / 0-)

      made in the comment by perro amarillo, below, is that a lot of these things need not cost money, and need not be done by government.  

      Obviously I agree with you about the government.  I think we have to throw the rethugs out.  But this is separate.  This is about the ordinary people out there.  There are 300,000,000 people in this country.  Maybe 1 in 300 spends much time thinking about anything like racism, bigotry, government, etc.  I want to speak to the other 299,000,000

      Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

      by plf515 on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 05:58:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a suggestion, a video documentary : (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515

    "Theologians Under Hitler"

    It has been used in a pilot program, shown in churches, and it really seems to unlock peoples' hearts.

  •  Cool diary & Recommended (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515

    The cool thing about Billings is that it didn't take a small fortune to accomplish. Just people determined to make a change.

    Slap those goddam hogs away from the trough. They've had enough.

    by perro amarillo on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 05:33:31 AM PDT

  •  interpersonal rankism, malrecognition, dignity (0+ / 0-)

    This thoughtful post describes the damage done by interpersonal rankism and offers an antidote: acknowledgement of people who put dignitarian principles into practice. Malrecognition is as harmful as malnutrition, and posts like this one expalin why and suggests steps for healing its effects.

  •  Leadership, Programs, Communication, Conduct (0+ / 0-)

    You are asking a central question that I think brings many people to Daily Kos: how can we effect change to make our society better? I don't have definitive answers, of course, but here are a few random thoughts:

    1. I believe that our nation is full of well-intentioned people who are just too preoccupied to devote time and energy to improving society, but who will eventually respond to effective leadership and inspiring programs.
    1. Everything new starts on a small scale, whether it is building a program from scratch or trying to influence one of the existing organizations devoted to civil right, civil liberties and social betterment.
    1. As your diary makes clear, identifying leaders and potential leaders is a key. There are hidden leaders in our society.  I think of the unsung men who organize sports leagues for the kids in their inner city neighborhoods.  I know public school families who organize programs to exchange knowledge of the diverse cultures from which they come. It would be great to have some mini MacArthur-type grants to identify and support such people.
    1. There are people in positions of leadership – clergy, teachers, even police chiefs – who in the course of their normal activities would benefit from knowing how others have successfully advanced social goals. The mechanisms for disseminating this kind of information must be haphazard at best. Your diary could be the germ of an internet clearinghouse for inspirational stories that others could learn from.
    1. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a program called Teaching Tolerance. I don’t know if there are others like it. The idea is to develop and implement activities to teach tolerance in schools.  I’m sure there’s room to develop more such activities and to expand the number of schools that use them.
    1. The news media are usually looking for good stories to report. It shouldn’t be too hard to get a local newspaper or broadcaster interested in something positive that is going on in the community and needs additional support.
    1. In a weird way, we can learn from the radical right, who have managed to galvanize many previously passive people in support of activities that they think are beneficial to society. What organizations are there, besides right-wing churches, that naturally command the involvement and commitment of busy people? In our atomized society, it’s hard to think of many. Perhaps PTA’s.
    1. At a bare minimum, each of us needs to be scrupulous to live our own lives in a way that expresses our values. That means being respectful and considerate of everyone, being generous with time and money in support of our causes to the extent our means permit, speaking out at injustices and not tolerating the insensitive remarks of our acquaintances (there are nice ways to do this), and by our conduct setting an example for our children and the other people around us. (If this all sounds too vague, I have this example: I used to work in a large office where everyone who had a computer and desk also had a name plaque and a listing in the office telephone directory, whereas everyone else – the folks who handled the mail and made photocopies, for example – were apparently anonymous. Some of us tried to defeat this rankism by learning everyone’s names and eventually having them included in the directory.)
    1. Every choice of words matters. I guess, if I may say so, that I would prefer not to use the word maggots; even for the most benighted and evil-intentioned members of the population, this kind of metaphor seems too dehumanizing, although I could probably live with “like maggots” as a simile. On the other hand, something like “disruptive bigots” (or whatever is actually appropriate to the case) is more informative.
    1. I usually use “Kosmopolitans”. Occasionally I seem to have used “Kossites”, although I don’t know where that came from. I don’t use “Kossacks” (reserving that for the real ones), although I have more than once seen a flame war in which the terms “Kossacks” and “Kosniks” would have been most appropriate.

    Well, your diary is thought provoking but not easy to answer.  I hope that it will set a little percolation going in the minds of your readers. To switch metaphors, the seeds of thought you’ve planted here may germinate at any point in the future in unexpected and unheralded ways.

    •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

      for the very thoughtful response.

      I agree with your points.

      What can we do?

      When you see an unsung hero, sing!

      it could be the sorts of things you suggest in your point 3, or any other worthy individual.  The people who are doing bad things get lots of press, and they should.  But so should the little heroes.

      Regarding point 9, yes, I try to be careful with words, too.  Maggots is harsh (and unfair to maggots) but I wanted a phrase for a diary title.  "Exposing disruptive bigotry, planting seeds of hope" is a bit wordy....

      Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

      by plf515 on Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 07:15:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maggots are regaining currency... (0+ / 0-)

    ...in medical treatments for cleaning out putrefying flesh.

    Just sayin'

  •  First off (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eddie Haskell, plf515

    I apologize for continuing to miss your diaries. I've subscribed now.

    Second, this is really wonderful idea and a great thought experiment.

    If I ran the zoo, as the saying goes, I would do everything in my power to enhance the social standing and cultural stature of the "right people" and reduce that of the "wrong people".  At first this would mean adjustments to wealth and salary, since our culture currently runs on greed.

    The right people are first and foremost teachers, teachers at all levels.  They need to be paid  more.  Double their salary right now.

    The right people are those who serve in their communities.  Make that service pay in more than the satisfaction of doing a job that needed doing.  Make them visible and lauded.

    There are a whole group of people who, in a more healthy society, would be both better regarded and play a more healthy role.  These are the professionals of many kinds, people who as the name implies, have devoted themselves to an occupation, a profession, and stand by it, stand for it,  have in many senses sacrificed a part of themselves to it.  This includes teachers, again, as well as doctors, who have been made captive of insurance companies, and lawyers, who have been made the object of ridicule and scorn by the actions of a minority of their profession.  Today we more likely think of a lawyer joke or a mob lawyer than of say, Atticus Finch. Engineers, who are nearly absent from the larger public eye, present if at all as a kind of Igor to corporate monsters.  All these professions need to regain  their rightful place, and they all need help.  Their compensation for their years of study and implicit agreement to adhere to the standards and practices of their profession, ahead of their own self interest, should be generous compensation and high public regard.

    The wrong people.  Entertainment is over valued.  We should entertain ourselves and each other, and participate in it on a local level.  But we should not let entertainment run wild, as it has, until all lines are blurred, and all of life seems naught but a farce.  Major league sports, TV news, Hollywood movies, the music industry.  The nexus of money and entertainment is maggoty.  Do whatever is required to reduce this.  Set winnie-the-pooh free.  Return copyright laws to what they were before Disney got hold of them.  Make sure artists and creative people get the money, not middle men.  Corporations, who are legally people, need to be reengineered to have a conscience and a heart, and perhaps most important, a finite life span.

    Working people should have a stake in the company they work with.  The concentration of wealth must be reversed, though it must not be by any kind of force, but by persuasion and enlightened investment, and a reversal, through cultural norms, of beatification of wealth.

    On kogs vs kosmopolitans.  I've used both.  I think "kosmopolitans" is great, I like the sound and the cosmopolitan air,  but it does come off as a bit too snooty if over used.  The elite liberal thing.  "Kogs" is pure snark, but if used in the wrong context can be a bit demeaning.  I like it mainly because it is short (if not sweet) and funny (because if there's one thing Kosmopolitans aren't, that would be an unthinking element in a vast machine, like a cog in wheel).

    OK, I'm not done, but I'm out.

    •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

      First, I try to keep my diaries on my hotlist for a long time, so that comments that come in late will still be seen, at least by me.  One of my few complaints here is that even busy diaries tend to die out after a day or two, rather than blossom into long-running conversations.

      Second, lots of good ideas above; I like the way you think.  I thinks some of them would be hard to implement even with a Gatesian fortune.  But that's ok, you are playing a slightly different game.

      Republicans worry about our souls and their bellies. Democrats worry about their souls and our bellies

      by plf515 on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 03:06:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the time constant of the site (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        plf515

        is rather interesting.

        If ever there was a church of what's happening now, this is it.  I like to think my lists help a little to keep conversations going.

        Thanks for reading and responding.

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