Friday, December 30, 2011

We Call the Question

Everyone in this country knows the right answer, if we ask the right question.

Back to Hierarchies OR Forward to Liberty and Justice for All?

Think Big Picture and Keep It Simple.

The pivotal year of 2012 is here. Our future hangs on having an indisputable unified message:

1. Big Picture: With 250 years of momentum toward equality and fairness, let's finish this march toward the vision of our founders.

2. Simplicity: Our persistent slogan is, "Are we going backward to hierarchies OR moving forward to liberty and justice for all?"

3. Transparency: Clear and simple, the opposition is building hierarchies as they channel resources to the top.

We ask the right question, we'll get the answer we want.

As the united 99%, we will prevail.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Health Coverage - Painfully State by State

Last night here in Oregon, we heard two women speak from the campaign that brought single-payer medical coverage to Vermont. A group of people from Vermont are traveling to educate and encourage other states to start campaigns to pass legislation that defines health care a basic right, and therefore available equitably to all.

We are looking forward to the campaign in Oregon, but at the same time, are feeling overwhelmed with the huge effort and expense it is going to take to mobilize these campaigns state by state.

The people from Vermont described that even now that their legislation is passed mandating a single-payer system, insurance companies with huge amounts of money are still putting their profits before the people, pumping massive amounts of resources into turning back the legislation.

Looking ahead at what it will take to implement single payer health insurance state by state, we can clearly see just how expensive hierarchies are, not only in money but in human effort. Our health care is a typical hierarchy. The people at the bottom have to scramble to make it work for them, since the priority of the US Congress is to support sending resources to the top - the insurance companies - while not taking care of the bottom – the people of the United States.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gayly Moving Forward

We learn hierarchical behaviors in any hierarchy, it doesn't matter which one. If we want to end hierarchies, we can't discriminate against any hierarchy as far as taking a stand.

The hierarchy of sexual orientation is our current 'hierarchy-du-jour." While we're in the middle of learning about it, it's difficult to see the same hierarchical attitudes and behaviors that are obvious in previously fought equality battles, such as gender or race.

There are those who find it difficult to support Hillary Clinton's message that the U.S. is going to use the tools of U.S. diplomacy to promote gay rights around the world. Decades from now, however, our grandchildren will understand that this declaration is as important as sanctions on South Africa years ago.

Charlotte lives in Springfield, Oregon. She is proud of her City Council for recently giving quick and unanimous approval to an ordinance that protects lesbians and gays against discrimination. Even thought the amendment is just "housekeeping," (the State of Oregon passed a anti-discrimination law in 2007), the Springfield act is especially sweet due to the city's history.

Springfield drew national attention in 1992 for becoming the first city in the U.S. to add anti-gay/lesbian rights language to its code. That year, 55% of Springfield voters approved a ballot measure that barred the city from taking any step to protect homosexuals from discrimination and stated that the city could not "promote, encourage or facilitate" homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism.

The current mayor of Springfield said that this recent charter addition was an important step toward ridding the city of some of the "stigma" it had earned through the 1992 vote. She said that the memory of the 1992 vote had lived on for many years, particularly in the minds of people outside the community.

When we weaken the sexual orientation hierarchy, we go a long ways to weaken all hierarchies.

Friday, December 2, 2011

True Colors

When we encounter a typical top-of-a-hierarchy attitude, we want to expose their true motives to the right audience. For example, passive resistance works because, given enough rope, people who are vehement about conserving hierarchies will expose themselves in unacceptable ways.

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote an article entitled, "Authorities play into the hands of occupiers," that describes how the Occupy protests might have died in infancy if a senior police official have not pepper-sprayed young women on video. Kristof describes how harsh police measures built popular support.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Back to Whose Roots?

Here in Oregon, we are having heated debates about removal of dams on our rivers. Recently it was ranchers (anti-removal) vs. indigenous tribes (pro-removal). A Klamath Tribe member said in a recent article that a rancher told him that,"All of us Indians needed to be rounded up and put on a train and shipped back to Oklahoma again."

Let's use a role reversal to hone in on how ridiculous such a statement is.

"All of those white people needed to be rounded up and put on a boat and shipped back to Europe again." Of course since the Klamath tribe has always been here, they really have no where to be shipped.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hierarchies Hurt Everybody

Why do good people act badly?

Many people have asked, “How could a revered person like Joe Paterno participate in such a horrible cover-up?” Thirty years ago, an identical quandary led us to decades of research on dismantling harmful hierarchies:

Why do good people do such bad things?

Paterno showed recognizable outward signs of a patriarch – a person in the sacred role of a father with unquestionable authority. The hierarchy that he ruled showed the same thirty-two consistent and predictable characteristics that we find in any hierarchy, no matter if based on race, religion, and yes, in sports. Here’s four examples:

1. Maintaining the hierarchy is the highest priority and the primary responsibility of those at the top. To the administrators and coaches at Penn State, it was important to preserve the wealth and prestige of the football program by avoiding a scandal.

2. People at the top are not held accountable for the effects on lower groups. Penn State administrators and coaches did not stop Sandusky from continuing to abuse children.

3. We live with constant lies, deceptions, and secrecy. Penn State kept the cover-up going for years.

4. People at the top become so isolated that they lose their vision of the realities of the world outside their fiefdom. When Paterno announced his retirement at the end of the season, he appeared clueless that his power base had collapsed underneath him.

The Penn State situation shows us that we have more reasons to work to eliminate hierarchical attitudes and behaviors than to lessen inequality and discrimination – even though that’s important too. When we are following the rules and roles of hierarchies, there are winners, sure, but there are many, many losers, and often they are just as innocent and victimized as the young boys that were ignored by the administrators and coaches at Penn State.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pet Project

As animal lovers, we are happy that almost daily, we see news articles that show we are constantly break down the human/other animals hierarchy. This week, we read that the majority of people in the United States who have pets will buy them presents this holiday season, and they will spend an average of $46 on toys, treats, bedding, clothing, leashes, collars, or grooming products.

Then we read that West Hollywood, California has just approved an ordinance that bans the sale of fur clothing made from skin or pelt of animals with hair, wool, or fur.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sexist Succession

When David Cameron announced Britain's intention to scrap centuries-old laws requiring older sisters to defer to younger brothers in inheriting the British throne, he called the practice "sexist."

As veterans of the 1970's women's movement that coined that word, we are glad to hear a powerful male acknowledge and use that term in an important international speech.

The equality of men and women has come a long way. Sexism does still exist, of course, and the more we call it what it is, the faster true fairness will be realized.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Freedom Riding Again

Ernest “Rip” Patton joined the Occupy Nashville protesters in Legislative Plaza last week and suddenly the memories flooded back.

“It just brought back that 1960, 1961 feeling again,” said Patton, 71. “It’s like people are waking up.”

Here is a fascinating interview with some men who make history:

We're proud that our home area, Nashville, Tennessee, was very important in the Civil Rights movement, and that passion for equality is continuing.

Capitol Idea

A widely-distributed email suggested this week that we could essentially solve the deficit problem instantly if Congress were treated like the rest of us. Here's some of the suggestions:

1. Congress (past, present, & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system.

2. Congress can purchase their own supplemental retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

3. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

4. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

Most of us realize that what was designed to be a democracy has morphed into a huge hierarchy, especially in the last three decades. The higher people channel power and resources to themselves while lower people hold them up by sending their own resources to the top.

We can predict from what we know of hierarchies that many members of Congress would be shocked if they were to be held to the same standards as the people who work hard to pay their salaries and benefits.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Could Be the One!

The Occupy movement is positioned to bring together all of the efforts since 1776 to create a country that reflects its forebearer's dreams. Here's why:

1. Smaller equality movements (women, gays, etc.) are in mature stages. We've removed barriers to diverse groups working together, and have the successes that now free us to work together.

2. The 1% at the top is showing their cluelessness to wide audiences. Since they are acting typical of people on the top of a hierarchy, we can use our experience to topple economic inequality. 99% is a huge lower group.

3. We control information, as the internet flows freely through most of the 99%. Information is no longer filtered through the top.

4. Economic inequality has statistics that are easier to grasp than previous social inequality movements. Everybody can understand what it means when the top 1% possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90%. The 400 wealthy Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans. In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65% of economic gains went to the richest 1%.

5. We can use the common language of hierarchies and we can predict how the top will act.

Exciting times ahead.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wall Street is Vulnerable

Paul Krugman's recent article, "Overblown criticism of protestors is telling," is a fabulous description of typical behavior of those who are on top. Any nudge from below, no matter how small, feels like a steamroller - a heavy-handed threat to one's position. Krugman notes that "the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical response from Wall Street."

We are glad to see that Wall Street and supporters of this world-wide economic hierarchy are responding in this predictable way. We know they will be vulnerable when we use what we know about hierarchies to set them up to act out to an even wider audience.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Many Good Men Needed

Many women in our generation - products of the 1970's women movement - have worked diligently to make opportunities to the younger generations of women and it's paid off. Over and over, we kept asking, "where are the men that need to be doing the same thing for boys?"

A recent article, "Why men are in trouble," points out that even though men still maintain a majority of the highest paid and most powerful occupations, women are catching them and will soon be passing them if trends continue. The article reports that sixty percent of college students are women. The article answers that younger men are spending an average of five hours a day playing video games, there is a maturity deficit characterized by a prolonged adolescence that refuses to grow up and to take responsibility in relationships, there is an obsession with sex and treating women as toys to be discarded when things get complicated. We've heard many women voice similar observations, and it's nice to see such discussions in an article.

The roles of men and women have shifted substantially in the last few decades. Women have done more to define these new roles and men will have to work to catch up if they want meaningful relationships and to become equals in our new culture with a weakening gender hierarchy, and stop being clueless at the top. We look forward to more articles like this one that urges men to teach the younger males coming up behind them.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Those on Top are There Because of Us

Elizabeth Warren, law professor and US Senate candidate, understands that the people on the top of our hierarchies are only there because everyone else is holding them up. She said:

"I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,'" Warren said. "No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.

"You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

"Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Civil Union for Angie and Brad?

In yesterday's Parade Magazine, Brad Pitt was quoted as saying the he and Angelina Jolie will get married when everyone can.

We would love to see Brad and Angie apply for a civil union - the only option open to many same-sex couples – to bring wide attention to the issue. The federal government would have to deal with how to tax their assets - as a couple or singles?

In France, many couples, including different-gender couples, choose civil unions over marriage.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Inequality Brings Social Ills

Our local newspaper, the "Register-Guard," ran an op-ed today by Bob Doppelt entitled, "Ecological Woes Linked to Inequality." Mr. Doppelt posed the question: since the U.S. economy today is far larger than 30 years ago, where did all the money go? He answers that question when he points out that we have the greatest concentration of wealth at the top since the 1920's.

Mr. Doppelt presents data from the fabulous book, The Spirit Level, that links inequality to many ills found in the United States.

The good news is that, even though our hierarchies produce serious problems, each of us can help. Even when our country's problems seem overwhelming, we can create our families, workplaces, or communities to reduce inequality and therefore reduce the social, economic, and environmental problems that they cause. It's our collective efforts in ending hierarchies that will change the world.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Whose Advantage?

This was a good week to observe typical top-of-the-hierarchy responses to people in lower groups who dare to try to move outside their dictated roles or challenge the views of those on top. A nudge from lower groups to participate equally feels like a steam roller to those on top. Crumbs given to lower groups in a hierarchy is perceived as a mountain of advantages, even if the top has routinely and unceremoniously received multitudes more.

First example – Senator Tom Coburn cluelessly implied that being an African-American male gives you a big advantage in the United States. Coburn told a townhall meeting in Oklahoma that Obama’s views are “goofy and wrong,” and that the president wants to “create dependency” because “as an African-American male,” he had received “tremendous benefit” from government programs.

Then there's the "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius, who recovered from his traditional slow start to qualify for the semifinals at the world championships in South Korea, the 14th best of all competitors. Initially the International Association of Athletics Federations had banned the multiple Paralympic gold medalist from able-bodied competition, saying the blades he wears gave him an unfair advantage. But in 2008, Pistorius was cleared to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

These "advantage" statements by those on the top of hierarchies remind us of the case of golfer Casey Martin, who lives in our city of Eugene, Oregon. The Professional Golfers' Association (PGA), along with the likes of golfing giants Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, argued that Martin would have an advantage if he used a cart. Martin has a disability, called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, a degenerative disorder than causes his veins to rupture and fill the cavities around his tibia with blood which makes it impossible for him to walk the course. "I've missed four out of eight cuts and made $5,000 this year," he said, "so if there's an advantage, I'd like to know where it is." The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court who ruled in Casey's favor.

Read more:

African-American males:



Monday, August 22, 2011

Depends on Who's Benefitting

Should the Congress let tax cuts expire? If you ask Republicans, it appears that their answer depends on if it's the rich or the poorest part of the population.

Many of the same Republicans who fought hard to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule for the rich are now saying a "temporary" tax cut for lower income people should end as planned.

Rep. David Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and a member of the House-Senate supercommittee tasked with finding new deficit cuts, says that tax reductions, "no matter how well-intended," will push the deficit higher. But he didn't worry about that when it concerned the wealthiest citizens, even though this constitutes a much bigger tax break for those citizens.

We think those Republicans are looking ridiculous and hope they look ridiculous to you also. But to them, they have likely convinced themselves that their wealth and power hierarchy is reasonable.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Washington in Focus

The title of an article peaked our interest: Clueless in Washington. We're not so much into the context of the WBST article, but we love the title.

Lately, the hierarchies that make Washington clueless are especially difficult to ignore. You are probably as frustrated with, tired of, or bored by them as much as we are. But the good part is that they motivate us to try something different.

Now more than ever we need to focus on the liberating process that’s shown in the picture above, and on the cover of our book. In addition to our comments, we are willing to share your suggestions or experiences with turning your head and looking away from the clueless top for Life, Liberty, and Happiness. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Christian and Moslem Terrorists

The term "Christian Terrorist" has ignited a debate in our country. Vocal Christians who have been quick to equate terrorism with Islam are outraged by anyone who links the word Christian with terrorism.

What would happen if these right-wing Christians were to ask their congregations for some self-reflection? Would they still say that their Muslims neighbors are as different from extremists as most of their own church members are different from Anders Behring Breivik of Norway?

Of course people who are on top of their religious hierarchy in the United States would have a hard time equating themselves to another religion. Since Norway does not have such a strong religious hierarchy with Christianity on top as in the United States, it makes sense that in Norway it would be much easier for them to see the analogy.

In our hometown on Murfreesboro, many Christians have made national news by trying to stop the construction a mosque. What would these Tennessee Christians think if Norwegians tried to stop the construction of a Christian church in their Nordic community stating the same objections?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Look Over Here Obama

Paul Krugman's recent article, "The President Surrenders," illustrates that compromising with people who are intent on building hierarchies will only build more hierarchy. Paul Krugman states that Obama could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, Obama replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly.

Here's a quote from this Clueless at the Top website: (look under Take Action/Clueless Top)

"In an effort to be fair, we often view top-of-the-hierarchy perspectives as personal opinions, and think we need to compromise, even if the top sees no need to compromise with us. We compromise with people who are building hierarchies, then wonder why our hierarchies continue. Compromising with people building hierarchies only builds more hierarchies."

If anyone out there has a better connection to Obama than we do, would you please direct him to our webpage? Thanks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Moving Free

If it is true that the Netherlands in the 1960's had the same attitude about alternative transportation to the car as the United States does now, maybe there is hope for us.

We are two people who have bus passes and usually leave our cars at home to instead walk, bike, or take the bus, so we know how valuable the time is that we spend transporting ourselves in other ways than our cars. We relax, are in great physical shape, slow down, talk to people we are with on the bus, enjoy noticing how people live along our routes, commune with nature, and feel great getting around on our own power.

We hope that as the United States climbs off the top of the world hierarchy we are creating, we can stop rushing around in our cars that are major contributors to pollution and global warming. Of course we will have to invest in the infrastructure that makes other-than-car transportation more workable. Other countries are far ahead of us; we're not near the top of the heap in this regard.

Everyone having fresh bread every day!! Yummmm!! Let's try it!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Christianity on Top

A controversy predictable in a religious hierarchy has surfaced concerning the cross that was placed at the 9/11 Memorial Site in New York City. A group has filed suit arguing that a Christian symbol should not be included if no other religions or philosophies will be honored.

We wrote about this issue a year ago (see the blog, August 23, 2010). Many people use the cross as a universal symbol for everyone in the country, even though our diverse country contains many religious or spiritual beliefs. For example, in military cemeteries, crosses are used to represent the fallen, even if their religion is unknown. A person may request another symbol, but if none is requested, it is assumed that a cross is appropriate.

In a hierarchy, what represents the top is considered to be appropriate for everyone. Religion is no exception. The use of beams from the former World Trade Center is wonderful. However, putting the beams only in the shape of a cross illustrates the dominance of the Christianity on top of the hierarchy of religions in our country.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our Shared Lives

On July 24, 2010, people in 192 countries sent in 80,000 videos to YouTube that shared their lives, including private and special moments. A new movie, "Life in a Day," was created from those videos, demonstrating that there is more that unites us than separates us.

The condition of the world can be discouraging. But when we look at the trends - the big picture - we see that we are witnessing major changes locally, nationally, and worldwide. We are witnessing unprecedented unity among people. Telecommunications and mobility are providing global opportunities for people to communicate with each other, as "Day in Our Lives" shows us.

For additional encouraging trends, see Chapter 5 of Clueless at the Top, or go to the home page of this website - The 4 C's, Common Issue.

No wonder some hierarchy conservators are acting so crazy. The internet is giving the rest of us so much access to one another without having to go through those at the top and the media they control.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Women's Soccer on Top

We are thrilled when we see articles that break down hierarchies - and here's one we saw that matches one of our suggestions in Clueless at the Top.

Roger Bennett's ESPN article "Seven Realizations from the World Cup," states, "It was a tournament that far surpassed the 2010 South African World Cup in quality of competition, inspiring some to suggest that, henceforth, the Women's World Cup should simply be referred to as the "World Cup" and the one with the gents that will be played in Brazil in 2014 should now be called "the Men's World Cup."

In Clueless at the Top, we discuss how role reversals are effective tools for uncovering elusive hierarchies that go undetected behind our assumptions about what are normal and natural behaviors. In role reversals, the higher group takes on the role of the lower, while the lower group plays the part usually played by the higher. We imagine the same scene played over again, however this time with roles switched.

On page 31 of Clueless at the Top, in a role reversal we state, "The World Cup is an international soccer tournament for women. The international soccer tournament for men is called 'The Men's World Cup.'" We explain that it may appear normal to many people in our hierarchies that the World Cup means the Men's tournament (similar to the NCAA Final Four for basketball), and when we talk about women we must say Women's World Cup.

But obviously some people haven't heard that there is a women's team and still think the US Soccer refers to the men, obviously, because they don't call the team the Men's World Cup team.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh Say Can You See - Your Land the Beautiful

"Is It Time for A New National Anthem?" is the title of a July 3 edition of Parade magazine. The article states that "The Star Spangled Banner" has not actually been the anthem very long, as it did not become the national anthem until 1931. It's difficult for even the best singers to sing, and that it would be better to sing about the beauty of our country instead of a long-forgotten battle in the War of 1812.

In Clueless at the Top, we also propose that our country needs a new national anthem. On pages 90, 97 and 303 we suggest we "change the country's national anthem to a song that does not glorify bombs and rockets, ramparts and fights." Other countries praise native flowers in their national anthem, and maybe it's time we stop acting proud of our national agenda of military build-up and military response to conflict, with the United States on top of an expensive and draining world hierarchy we can no longer afford to build.

In their 2011 Fourth of July celebration edition, the Parade article suggested "America the Beautiful" as out new national anthem. Not a bad song at all, but we like "This Land is Your Land."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nine 1 One to the Rescue

We have a refreshing story from our home state of Oregon about a Portland company, Nine 1 One Gear, that makes outerwear for firefighters and emergency responders. They have announced that they are leaving China and moving their manufacturing back home to Oregon.

Inflation in China and quality-control problems had Nine 1 One looking for alternatives. Moreover, manufacturing capacity at Chinese apparel plants is tight, and lead times for filling orders are getting longer. "If you're not a big-name brand, you're going to get pushed to the bottom of the list," said Peter Ettro, the president of Nine 1 One.

Maybe small companies will be the businesses that will bring health to our country's economic illnesses. After all, we can't look to those who got us into our problems to get us out. The big corporations, who are aided by the hierarchy-conservators of the Supreme Court and Congress, are unwilling to pay their fair share, put profits before people and the environment, and care about their well-being more than that of the country, show us the results when building hierarchies is a high priority.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Real American History

This week California lawmakers sent the governor a bill that would require public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies curriculum, the first state to do so. People with disabilities are also included in the list of groups that schools must discuss. The bill would also prohibit material that reflects adversely on gays and lesbians. The Assembly passed the bill with a 49-25 party line vote.

We're glad to see this bill as a strong step forward in presenting the history and culture of the United States in a more equitable manner. Anyone who has learned the traditional "American History" knows that the curriculum centers around the stories of wealthy able-bodied white males, the military, and wars. Therefore, it often takes legislation to create a more inclusive history.

Another solution is to have "special" separate classes – "African American History," "History of American Indians," or "Women’s History." If we take “Hispanic American History,” we don’t expect to learn "Asian American History." That's because when we speak of a lower group, we assume we’re talking about only that particular group. But when we talk about the upper group, in this case wealthy white males, many people assume we are talking about everyone, and a class about their history is representative and adequate for everyone.

So cheers to California for coming closer to making the history taught in our classrooms the real history of our country.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Archbishop Dolan Imitates Phyllis

When we read that New York Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan is worried that the next step in the marriage debate will be another redefinition to allow multiple partners and infidelity, our minds wandered back to Phyllis Schlafly, the front person for the right-wing's opposition to Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970's. Those of you old enough will remember that Schlafly and her supporters were predicting that if women secured equal legal rights, we could no longer have separate bathrooms for males and females.

It's predictable that when we listen to people who want to conserve hierarchies, we will hear amazing misconceptions, lies, and/or deceptions. It often takes far-out predictions to keep outdated, dying hierarchies alive.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Karissa Whitsell - A Champion for All

Karissa Whitsell won one gold and three total medals in cycling in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, and four metals in 2004 in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. She was named the 2004 Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes.

We daily read the sports pages of our local newspaper. Even though Karissa grew up in adjacent Springfield and still lives here in our cycling-crazy city of Eugene, we had never heard of her until last week when we found out that Harriet's co-worker Lisa Turnbull had moved to the Olympic Village in Boulder, Colorado. Lisa will be training with Karissa after they won the Time Trial event of the USA Cycling Paralympics Road National Championships in Augusta, GA.

We are wondering how much coverage she would be receiving if she were in the Olympics and not the Paralympics. Better late than never, we're glad to know of Ms. Whitsell, and will be following her cycling career from now on.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hierarchies Masquerading as Religion

Segregation and discrimination against women? What's considered abusive in general society gets overlooked when the practices are part of a religion that's been created by and for the benefit of men.

Ritualistic slaughter that brings animals pain and suffering? Soon, what's considered abusive in general society may no longer be overlooked when the practices are part of a religion that's been created by and for humans.

The Dutch Parliament will vote this week on a bill that, if enacted, will effectively require even Jewish and Muslim butchers to stun animals — mechanically, electrically or with gas — before they are slaughtered. Currently, the regulations on slaughter, including stunning the animals before killing, are set aside when it comes to ritual slaughter by humans of certain religions, who are objecting.

When hierarchy conservators hide behind religion, they expect people who would normally object to their behavior to look the other way, to stand by in silence, and not challenge them.

Religions used to proclaim that women exist to obey men, and blacks exist to wait on whites, because the leaders of the religions considered men and whites to be naturally superior. What's the difference in proclaiming that animals are placed on this earth to serve humans? Why would any deity place millions of species on this planet to serve only one of them? Typical of a hierarchy, humans set up this species hierarchy with themselves on top. Religions with animals as deities treat animals better.

For centuries, humans who establish hierarchies have hidden behind hierarchical religions headed by deities who resemble those people on top who set up and benefit from the hierarchy.

Cheers to the Dutch Parliament - keep up the good work standing up for those on the bottom!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who's Keeping the Pledge?

One conservative member of our Eugene City Council proposed that the Council open its regular meetings by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The council’s’ compromise to cite it four times a year drew a story on Fox News and many mainly hostile emails and phone calls, mostly from out of state. A typical letter was quoted in the local newspaper: “You have made our decision easy for us. We have decided to move our 120-member family reunion away from Eugene, you communist bastards.”

Instead of making the Pledge of Allegiance the conservative's litmus test for patriotism, let's reframe the discussion to who's actually keeping the pledge. Time and time again, while proud to recite "with Liberty and Justice for All," conservatives are working hard to build and maintain hierarchies, such as ones based on wealth, sexual orientation, gender, religion, race, environment, corporate power, and world order. If the City of Eugene would reframe the issue by asking conservatives how they support the equality that they voice, then the focus would turn the other way. Let's set up the conservatives to do the explaining.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The World Cup is Now Underway

The World Cup began this week. Probably most of you made the assumption that the World Cup means men are playing, and maybe wondered why it wasn't in the news. Did you even know there is a Women's World Cup?

In Germany, people have heard of the Women's World Cup, including the 73,680 people at the sellout crowd for Sunday's opening game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

It's too bad that in the United States, we miss out on so many fun exciting events because only one group of athletes get the vast majority of the coverage, that group on top of our athletic hierarchies - able bodied men. Charlotte went to the Paralympics in Atlanta, and the attendance at the events was sparse, even though the Paralympics (for athletes with disabilities) were sold out four years before in Barcelona.

Last weekend, we both attended the able-bodied USA National Track and Field Championships here in Eugene and were so glad to be at an athletic event where men and women's events appeared to be equally scheduled, and where both male and female athletes were featured in the commentator's remarks and on the big screen.

The language we use gives us clear indications about who's on top. When we talk about a sporting event with both men and women's tournaments, we assume men are playing so we don't have to mention which tournament we are discussing. For example, when the media discusses the "Final Four, " we assume we are talking about the men's NCAA basketball tournament. If we are talking about women, we have to specifically say the Women's Final Four.

Again, our hierarchies limit our experiences. When one group gets placed above others, all of us miss opportunities.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Money for Us

We are thrilled that the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted this week to approve a resolution to redirect military spending to domestic priorities and to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. This effort was led by our own Eugene mayor, Kitty Piercy, who was the lead sponsor. Go Kitty!

The resolution calls on Congress to allow billions of dollars to be redirected to U.S. cities, many of which are struggling with severe budget shortfalls and the need to eliminate city programs. Piercy's resolution "calls for speeding up (troop) withdrawals as our cities and our families are in need."

As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we would have plenty of money to take care of ourselves if we were to stop trying to maintain our own world hierarchy with the United States on the top. Hierarchies require extensive resources to maintain. We cannot afford our huge military and we don't need to be the world police. We are glad to see the mayors take this stand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clueless at the Court

"Some corporations are too big to be held accountable," was Senator Patrick Leahy's response when the conservative majority of the Supreme Court handed a victory to Wal-Mart by throwing out the largest gender discrimination case in U.S. history. The justices reversed a lower court decision that allowed as many as 1.5 million female workers to sue the nation's largest private employer.

Not holding the top accountable is one of the most important ways to keep hierarchies viable and strong. Hierarchy conservators are working hard to keep corporations on top of our country, financially and politically high on our hierarchies. The conservative majority - Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito - has again demonstrated that conservative is synonymous with conserving hierarchies.

On this website, Take Action - Clueless Top, #5, we point out that:

HiCons will treat illustrative examples as isolated instances and conclude that the person giving the information is overreacting.

"Respondents wish to sue for millions of employment decisions at once," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. "Without some glue holding together the alleged reasons for those decisions, it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members' claims will produce a common answer to the crucial discrimination question."

We urge everyone who wants equality and fairness to demonstrate your commitment with your pocketbooks. All of us have a role to play to help end hierarchies. Hierarchies flourish because the people at the top are not held accountable for the effects on lower groups. Please think about what you money is supporting if you shop at Wal-Mart, where women hold 70% of the hourly jobs but only 33% of the management positions.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Look Lower for a Healthy Future

It's easy to be blind to the obvious when we are clueless at the top. We are programmed to value what we view as being on top, and overlook the importance or contributions of those in our lower groups.

"The local food and beverage industry grows despite the recession," our local newspaper reported. Even though this local segment of our economy provides more than half as many jobs as the county's largest manufacturer, an economic develop official was quoted as saying that these local companies are not going to provide the quantity and quality of jobs that makes a real job cluster with staying power.

Staying power? Is he saying that large corporations provide more security, just because they have more resources and are given top-of-the-hierarchy benefits in this country? The article goes on to name large corporations that in one sweep moved manufacturing operations to other counties or countries, while adding that local small industries are more likely to stay here, and many have been here for decades.

An executive from the Northwest Food Processors Association summed it up. "It's kind of a Rodney Dangerfield impression. They never give us respect."

Monday, June 13, 2011

If Cars Were Bikes

If you aren’t one of the millions of people who have watched the Youtube video on blocking bike lanes in New York City, we encourage you to do so:

In the United States, cars are definitely on top of the transportation hierarchy. Most of our funding goes to automobile roads, while alternative transportation, including public transportation, is put on the back burner, is often left in the dust.

Let’s do a role reversal. Let’s assume bikes are on top of the hierarchy in New York City. Then, anyone could park a bike in a car lane and the car would have to figure out how to proceed and not hit the bike. A cyclist could sit in the car lane and have a conversation with someone on the sidewalk. Construction workers could block a car lane with no notice for those approaching. If a cyclist suddenly pushed a barrier in front of a car, similar to a car door in a bike lane, too bad for the car.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Commitment to Change, Not Compromise

In his May 22 article, Neal Gabler states that the rightward revolution is transforming us into a nation without compassion or tolerance. He says conservatism is defining and drawing the battle lines that tell us that they are easily winning the day.

We agree that if we define our country by the hierarchical perspective of the right wing, yes, they are on top and therefore in charge. However, our vision for the right wing is different from how they see themselves. When we step out of their hierarchy and become fortified by historical trends, their position looks vulnerable.

Friday, May 27, 2011

U.S. – Cheap Labor for the World

Slumming in the U.S. is fast becoming a business model for some European countries, and they often exhibit labor practices here that they would never think of doing at home. So move over China - U.S. labor costs may be a little higher, but the U.S. offers stronger intellectual property protections and far fewer strikes than in China.

"America as the beacon for the workers of the world? No more. If anything, our relationship with Europe has become a latter-day version of the one that characterized the years leading up to the Civil War, when our Southern states provided cheap, slave-produced cotton. . . Once again, we're where Europe comes to slum - in the low-wage factories of the South and the run-down houses of South Los Angeles. . . These companies increasingly come to America because labor is cheap and workers have no rights."

Article in the Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2011:

Information from articles like above and other data sources (such as the book The Spirit Level) illustrate how when we think we are #1 on top of our world hierarchy, we are clueless to what is obvious to everyone else.

The United States has many wonderful qualities, but we also have many problems that can't be solved until we let go of our top-of-the hierarchy limited and unrealistic view of ourselves in our world, and stop allowing people who want to build hierarchies to continue to make decisions that affect our wealth distribution and workplaces.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pleasant Dreams

From a former position low on our hierarchies, animals are moving up.

Our local newspaper reported that nearly half (48%) of people who live with dogs have their dogs sleep in the bed with them.

Both of us love having our cats and dogs sleep with us. When we were growing up, our cats and dogs stayed out in the garage, except when our mom was not at home and we snuck them in to be with us. What a change in one generation concerning how many people feel about the animals in their families.

The human-animal hierarchy has weakened so much in the recent decades. Even though we still have way too much animal abuse and mistreatment, we're moving in the right direction.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Go Vermont !!

The nation's major health insurers are into a third year of record profits. Thank goodness for the people in Vermont. They have decided to step out of the health care hierarchy that predictably channels riches to the top.

Instead they are creating another system of health care in their state that takes into account the needs for all their citizens with a single-payer type approach. We hope our home state of Oregon is the second to look seriously into a more equitable and fair system that benefits everyone, not just those at the top.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dalai Lama Advice

"The change in human society must start with the individual," the Dalai Lama said recently at the Newark Peace Education Summit.

When we look at the inequality and lack of fairness in the world, it's easy to feel unempowered to make change. Each of us, however, can change ourselves and what is in our sphere of influence. We do have control over what we think, do, and say.

Since our hierarchies are at the root of the problems in our world, we DO make a difference when we weaken or leave hierarchies in our own lives. Each of us can take plenty of empowering, rewarding steps, and feel good that we are contributing to the collective transformation of the world.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If Doctors were Treated Like Teachers

We are delighted to see this article that shows how effective role reversals can be to reveal elusive hierarchies. Take a look to discover what would happen if teachers were treated like medical doctors! Since the two of us are teachers, this article was especially appealing, and we laughed out loud at #9.

Freedom off the Top

For most of our lives, the two of us have been glad to be female. Yes, we may not have had access to some advantages that top-of-the-gender-hierarchy males have. But wow, we have had so many more options as to what we can be, what we know, and how we act because we are in the lower group.

The recent furor about the J. Crew president's young son painting his toenails pink follows predictable rules in hierarchyland. Whatever applies to lower groups are specific only to that group and is demeaning for the upper group (i.e., no pink for boys, only for girls), but we know that what applies to higher groups is considered to be universal (i.e., blue is fine for boys or girls).

No one seems to argue that for little girls and their parents, there are healthy choices across gender lines - ultra-feminine toys and activities, along with an ever-growing range of "tomboy" sports options and other pursuits that in the past were mostly the domain of boys. But conservatives warn that boys could be hurt for life if exposed to what is considered appropriate for girls.

Quotes from NPR article (link below) underscore these rules. "For girls nowadays, it's OK to play with boys' toys, dress like boys, talk like them — it's often encouraged," said Isabelle Cherney, a Creighton University psychologist. "Boys have to walk a much finer line, and their fathers tend to be more stereotyped, telling them not to deviate from what's typically seen as masculine."

"The norms of femininity have expanded much more than the norms for masculinity — a lot more androgyny is allowed for girls," said Judith Stacey, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. "With boys, it's not seen as OK to wear skirts, play with princesses' wands," she said. "There's still a lot of anxiety about being sufficiently masculine."

NPR's "Gender Stereotypes Easing More for Girls Than Boys" (May
11, 2011)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Uncontrolled at the Top

Women disappearing in thin air – such as the removal by Brooklyn Hasidic Jewish newspapers of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security staff member Audrey Tomason from the picture of the White House Osama Bin Laden situation room. These orthodox Jewish newspapers insist that these pictures of women would be too sexually suggestive to men.

We owe a lot of our foremothers who worked hard to stop women from being blamed for men's inability to control their sexual urges. Those of us who are old enough remember when it was common for a woman to be blamed for being raped.

For many many years, men have used religion to keep their position on top of their hierarchies. That position allows them to assign responsibility of those on the bottom to change their lives (in this case Hillary and Audrey need to be absent) when those at the top do not want to be held accountable for their own actions (men being reasonable and responsible about their sexual urges).

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Top Always Benefits

CEO’s in the nation’s largest companies are being paid better now than they were in 2007 when the economy was booming, when the stock market set a record high, and unemployment was about half what it is today, according to Associated Press. The typical pay package for the head of a company was $9 million, a 24% increase over last year. The typical worker made less than half of 1 percent of what the typical CEO made.

The biggest gains came in cash bonuses: two-thirds of executives got a bigger one than they had in 2009, some more than three times as big – money that could be used to create jobs for those people whose lives have actually been harmed by the recession.

This trend shows that our hierarchies are becoming more unstable. The top continues to send more resources their way, while passing down less and less resources to keep the lower groups believing the top has their interests in mind.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our World Hierarchy is Outdated

Osama bin Laden is dead. Is it time for the United States to stop trying to police the world, to give up on keeping ourselves on the top of the world hierarchy we create and sustain? Just like in any hierarchy, being on top has its advantages but many, many disadvantages.

Our resources are needed internally, for our health and happiness. Our schools need improving, as well as our transportation infrastructure and the quality of life and security for seniors. We need a fair tax system in which rich people and corporations pay their share, and jobs need to stay home.

Like they say on airplanes, we must first make sure we put on our oxygen masks before we help others in need. Now is the time to look inward before we have nothing else to give others.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let the Top Act Out

The Birthers were doing such a good job of exposing themselves to be clueless at the top, that we are disappointed that Obama took their bait and showed his birth certificate.

Obama helped the Birthers by instructing them to stop showcasing their top-of-the-hierarchy attitudes, instead of letting them continue to expose themselves as clueless and irrational. His response gave them legitimacy, and he set himself up for their criticism.

Blame will always be passed down to people in lower groups who allow themselves to get sucked into a battle that is framed and waged by the top. When lower groups buy into a hierarchy created by the top, the top will not take responsibility to be held accountable, and will do whatever it takes to push the blame down the hierarchy. The actions of the Republicans and radical right in blaming Obama for addressing the birther issue is absolutely predictable.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hierarchy Conservators Move Farther Out

Now that hierarchies as a whole are in a death struggle, we can expect that those holding on will move farther and farther from center in an effort to try to counterbalance the majority who are no longer supporting hierarchies.

Even conservative Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has recognized that the behavior of hierarchy conservators is becoming extreme. She stated that the so-called “birther” issue is potentially leading the nation “down a path of destruction.” She said that she believes there’s no question that it is directed at Obama even though clearly he was born in Hawaii.

Even Jan Brewer can see that hierarchy conservators are damaging for the country.

For more discussion on the Death Struggle, see "Death Struggle" under the "Hierarchies" section of this website.

Holding the Top Accountable Works

We end hierarchies by exposing the activities of those wanting to conserve hierarchies, and not by settling for a compromise or by trying to change them.

House Republicans have lost the services of a prominent Atlanta law firm, King & Spalding, which reversed its course Monday and announced it would not lead courtroom arguments in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. King and Spalding had previously signed a $500,000 contract to defend the law.

The million-member Human Rights Campaign launched a publicity campaign to expose the law firm that agreed to take the case. HRC contacted the firm’s clients to inform them that King & Spalding was attempting to have it both ways by defending a discriminatory law while lauding its commitment to diversity.

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, resigned from the law firm in order to continue to represent House Republicans.

For more information on effectively countering hierarchy conservators, see #8 under "Take Action, Clueless Top" in the tool bar of this website.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Death Struggle is Progressing

Mary sent us a message that she would love to believe that the radical right is in a death struggle, but now they seem so powerful.

We agree that their efforts appear to be coming from a position of strength. From decades of studying hierarchies, however, we see perfect textbook examples of a death struggle (for an explanation, see Death Struggle under Hierarchies in the tool bar above).

1. Aggressively hoarding resources. The radical right is longer taking the responsibility to pass down the minimal amount of benefits to lower people – a practice which is necessary to sustain their position at the top.

2. Acting increasingly irrational (such as the Birthers). They must move farther from center to counterbalance the majority who have moved out of their outdated hierarchies.

3. Becoming exposed. The radical right is finding it difficult to find any individual "lower" group to use as a scapegoat and a means to divert attention away from real issues. Lower groups have become organized over the last 50 years, and are refusing to stay on the bottom of obsolete hierarchies. We are talking to each other.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hope for the Flowers

The book, Hope for the Flowers, is a terrific, heart-warming reminder of the healthy and happy life that awaits for us when we leave hierarchies, here shown as caterpillar pillars.

Trina Paulus wrote and illustrated this gem nearly 40 years ago, and millions of copies have been sold. We recommend looking for the book in your local library, digging out your old copy and rereading it, or finding a new or used copy for yourself.

Here's some lines from the book:

"Something is really wrong but…what else is there?"

"Yet somehow, waiting and not being sure was better than action she couldn’t believe in. She just knew climbing was a wrong way to get high."

"You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar. You mean to die? Yes and No. What looks like you will die but what’s really you will still live. Life is changed, not taken away."

"We can fly! We can become butterflies! There’s nothing at the top and it doesn’t matter!"