From Tikkun

Tikkun to heal, repair and transform the world
A note from Rabbi Michael Lerner Join or Donate Now!

Dear  Tikkun Ally ,

I want to invite you to a day long consideration of a  NEW BOTTOM LINE IN THE PROFESSIONS. It will be a rather amazing gathering of teachers, lawyers, social workers, physicians, nurses, psychologists, writers, journalists and media workers,  and just about any other profession you can think of professionals at the University of California, Berkeley, (Clark Kerr Campus, Waring at Parker) , Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to discuss a New Bottom Line in the Professions.

You can register of line at: http://www.spiritualprogressives.org/bapuc

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that most of us went into eductiton, law, medicine, government service, academia, psychology, non-profit work,  etc. because we wanted to make a real contribution to ending the suffering of others, and in some way or other to help offset some of the craziness in our society. Even some of the most “hard nosed” and materialistic colleagues we meet at work were, at one point in their lives, more idealistic and caring, until they were beaten down by the way that professional life is structured and by a set of cynical assumptions about the world and about ourselves that were ingrained into many. Yet underneath the selfishness and materialism (and, for some, despair and giving up on their original ideals), there still remains a small but viable part that wants a more caring world if anyone thought it possible.

The purpose of this meeting Sept. 21st  is to organize to challenge the “old bottom line” that dominates our culture and the consciousness of too many of our colleagues and clients/patients and the institutions in which we work.

We seek to replace that with a “New Bottom Line”-so that our activities and the functioning of our institutions, legal system, medical system, hospitals, and the media are judged to be “efficient,” “productive,” or “rational” not only to the extent that they maximize money or power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, ethical and ecological sensitivity, enhance our capacity to treat others as ends in themselves (in religious language: embodiments of the sacred), and to respond to the universe not only from a narrow utilitarian and instrumental consciousness but also with awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the grandeur of all that is. Taking that new bottom line seriously will necessarily involve many dramatic changes in the way that our institutions function, as well as in the ethos that governs our professional lives.

Our project is aimed at changing American society at its roots, to be sure, and in that sense is very radical. But it’s also very conservative, going back to the deepest aspirations of human beings throughout our history, expressed not only in religions but also in art, music, poetry, fiction, and humanistic philosophies. Work used to be seen as a vocation, connected to our own sense of meaning and purpose for our lives. It still could be!

This New Bottom Line is actually at the core of much of what human beings already want. As the Principal Investigator for a major NIMH study of the psychodynamics of the world of work, I and my team discovered that a large section of our society both deeply wants a different kind of world, summed up best in the New Bottom Line, but simultaneously is addicted to a narrow vision of “reality” which makes them feel certain that the world that they want is impossible, and that they might even be thought of as crazy were they to express their highest goals to others. As a result, they become “realists,” accepting a world that is far from their highest vision, and then accommodating to it. In subsequent work I discovered that these issues impact not only on working class people, but on most of the professionals in our society, particularly those connected with law, medicine, health care, and teaching.

Change that seemed utopian 40 years ago seems less so today. The amazing changes in the status of women and minorities, the legalization of gay marriage, the candidacy of Barack Obama-all would have seemed to be the fantasies of people without grounding in reality forty years ago. So I’ll understand if you at first think that this project for a New Bottom Line is utopian and unrealistic. All I ask is that you give me one day to introduce you to others in your profession who want a New Bottom Line and with whom you can strategize to begin a campaign to challenge the Old Bottom Line in your field. That’s why I’m inviting you to this gathering on Sept. 21st.  We are meeting with people in a variety of professions because we know that the kind of changes we seek in our own work cannot be achieved unless we are part of a larger movement of change that is taking place simultaneously (over the course of the next decades) in many other professions as well.

And we’ll have some wonderful resource people who have done some of this work already: Law professor and Associate Editor of Tikkun Peter Gabel (you may remember his articles in the Harvard Law Review, and his role as a founder of Critical Legal Studies, but his approach to law today has evolved in ways that set him apart from the moral relativism implicit in some aspects of CLS), Professor Rhonda MaGee USF Law School, Svi Shapiro author of Losing Heart: The Moral And Spiritual Mis-education of America’s Children , Peter Geyman, M.D. author of The Corrosion of Medicine: Can the Profession Reclaim its Moral Legitimacy, Bill Benda, M.D.and Sunny Schwartz of the S.F. Sheriff’s Dept. Restorative Justice Project.

Yes, it costs-but only to pay for the actual costs of the day and publicity (the presenters are all volunteering their time): $75 if you register before Sept. 15th ($100 thereafter) by sending a check to Tikkun/NSP at 2342 Shattuck Ave, Suite 1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704 or by enrolling on line at www.spiritualprogressives.org/bapuc . We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) are part of a 501-c-3 non-profit, contributions to which are tax deductible and gratefully accepted should you wish to help us support this project even if you can’t come on the 21st of Sept. If you’d like to work with us, let us know: dlapedis.@tikkun.org. The NSP is NOT for new age flakes nor is it a religious organization-it’s for anyone who knows that some part of what deserves to be valued and placed in the center of our lives is not subject to measurement or empirical verification (that’s what we mean by “spiritual”). For more info or to register on line: go to http://www.spiritualprogressives.org/bapuc

It’s that same New Bottom Line that has led us to make our major project a campaign for a Global Marshall Plan (to dedicate 1-2% of the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. and other G-8 countries each year for the next twenty years to once and for all end both domestic and global poverty, hunger, inadequate health care, inadequate education and to repair the global environment. This plan takes all the separate efforts (like the One Campaign, the Millennium Goals, the various poverty and health care and education campaigns) and puts them together in one unified package, extending them globally. I’m enclosing our ideas, so you can read about our Global Marshall Plan (a related version of which was introduced into Congress recently by Keith Ellison, Barbara Lee, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Pete Stark, Lynn Woolsey and 15 other Congressional reps). You’ll see that they deal with all the reasonable objections from the past about how to protect these funds from getting siphoned off by government or local elites to how we are going to pay for this to how we can ensure that this isn’t a repeat of the Ugly American syndrome of Western arrogance and insensitivity to local realities. If you are already a member of NSP or a subscriber, you should have received inside the Sept/Oct issue a 32 page description of the Global Marshall Plan, and for those who are not yet subscribers, we’d be happy to mail that to you if you tell pete@tikkun.org where to send it.

Perhaps you’d like to work with us on that if not on changing the bottom line in your profession? I’ll talk about the Global Marshall Plan a little at our gathering on Sept 21st, because it is a policy manifestation of what a New Bottom Line would look like when applied to foreign policy. Our main focus, and why we need you there, is to help strategize about what that New Bottom Line would look like in your profession.

If you are not able to come, and want to work on the Global Marshall Plan (or financially support it) or help us build the New Bottom Line campaign (or financially support that) , let me know by emailing me at RabbiLerner@tikkun.org or by sending financial support to Tikkun/NSP at 2342 Shattuck Ave, Suite 1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704.  I hope to see you Sept. 21st.

Warm regards,
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun and Chair (along with Princeton Prof. Cornel West and Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister) of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and author of 11 books including The Politics of Meaning, Healing Israel/Palestine, and the 2006 national best seller The Left Hand of God.

Information on High Holiday Services late Sept/early Oct. in S.F. and weekly Torah study in English, both led by Rabbi Lerner, is available at www.beyttikkun.org.


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