The Values that Guide Public Decisions

It’s always good to quote a widely-accepted genius. So…Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” This is a really great quote, but how on earth can it be applied on a wide and public scale? I believe we’re about to see it being at least attempted…and perhaps accomplished.

On June 26, thousands of people across the country will gather to discuss our federal budget and national debt. AmericaSpeaks is a non-partisan, non-profit organization…and they take pride in their reputation as an honest and neutral advocate for public participation in decision-making on our most critical issues. Groups large and small will meet simultaneously…connected via internet webcast. People will discuss the complex trade-offs concerning our federal deficit and growing debt. But first…they will discuss in small, table-talk groups what values they believe should guide their decisions on these real-world dilemmas.

These are problems we can’t think our way out of. Many very brilliant women and men have tried their best to think it through…and to reason the solutions out. They have failed. So…it’s up to us…everyday people in our local communities. But, we need to try it Einstein’s way…we need to look at this problem and the many attempts at solutions through a different lens. I don’t know exactly how the AmericaSpeaks process will be done…I don’t know if it will effectively identify a set of values that will then provide a foundation for wise public action. What I do know is this…good for them for trying!

This may be painful to accept, but our current federal deficit and mind-numbing national debt are products of a set of values that have failed us disastrously. No…our current debt crisis didn’t come from a lack of values…it grew out of our own tragically-flawed values. This isn’t a Republican Party or Democratic Party problem…it’s an American values problem. Even Tea Party supporters were mute as long as life was comfortable, and as long as extreme measures weren’t needed to keep our economy from falling off a financial cliff. Our current crisis is the natural outcome of the application of our cumulative, public values.

After introductions, meeting housekeeping and a brief overview of the problem, the first small-group discussion people will have in the various AmericaSpeaks venues is about…values. Remarkable…and refreshing! These values and themes will be shared across the many venues nationwide, and polling will be done to determine the national group’s priorities. These values then will be applied, explored and adjusted as the discussions move to spending options, revenue options and budget system reform. The primary basis for policy recommendations in the AmericaSpeaks process then rests on the values the American people hold to be most respected and prized.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” I’d say the crisis has deepened to the point where we need to step back for a fresh look at our current values…the healthy ones and the cancerous ones. On June 26, AmericaSpeaks will provide a rare opportunity to do just that…as a national event. Read about it…participate in the conversation…or at least monitor its progress online. Partisan politics will not solve these problems…and neither will denial. Our values must guide these public decisions.

To read more, go to At that website, you can also register for one of the Community Conversations across the country and in the virtual world of Second Life…including the session in Fairfield at the Cooperative Extension office, 501 Texas Street.

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2 Responses to The Values that Guide Public Decisions

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  2. John Marr says:

    The following processes that determine appropriate values can be taught in public schools in one required secondary school course: Mediation and facilitation; Critical thinking; How to participate in government; How to recognize and avoid being influenced by manipulative rhetoric; Depersonalization of problem-solving; Active listening; How to blog; How to establish public databases on specific issues; Constructive problem-solving.

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