[For a shorter Overview, In five sections of about 100 words each, click here for the essence of the Commonway vision, mission and message.]
We help people understand societal transformation and show them how to catalyze inclusivity -- both within themselves and in the world. We do this through workshops, classes and other learning opportunities.
We also conduct projects, events and activities for organizations and individuals that catalyze and demonstrate inclusivity. We do this as consultants to other organizations (client-based projects) and as internal activities (Commonway -sponsored projects).
Commonway is an inclusive social change organization, dedicated to creating a society that works for all. Our goal is to foster inclusive, sustainable human societies on an ecologically viable planet.
We are “Advocates of the Whole”. We help organizations and individuals catalyze beneficial, value-driven transformations within themselves, their organizations and our society as a whole.
The essence of our work is ridding ourselves, our organizations and our society of fear. The root of our problems lies in fear, and the stress, anger, hostility and violence produced by fear. Fear is simply another form of violence. We encourage people to cross the boundaries that separate us.
It is only through a profound shift in consciousness that a new society can be born. We all must undergo this shift. A change in consciousness must precede any change in institutions, laws or social patterns. The necessary change is specific: from “I am Separate” to “We are One”. We can’t solve our problems with the same consciousness that created them. Our deep divisions and seemingly insurmountable problems are leading us to new ways of working together.
We have to move beyond “honoring diversity” to embrace inclusivity. We must learn and practice human ecology: building healthy, balanced and dynamic human interactions from our currently toxic ones. If our society doesn’t work for everybody, it doesn’t work for anybody.
A Society of the Spirit
Creating a society that works for all is a sacred act. Every spiritual, religious and wisdom tradition leads us to the same conclusion: working for others is the highest form of spirituality. Our true values lie beyond empty posturing, political sloganeering and campaign rhetoric. We are stronger than our fears and better than our limitations.
An Inclusive Community
The purpose of Commonway is to teach and practice inclusivity. Inclusivity is recognizing that my life, my fate, my future is inextricably linked to yours. Building community with those who are not like “us” is the challenge of the next millennium, a challenge that is essential to our survival. With inclusivity, there is no “Other”; identifying with and connecting to “The Other” makes violence unthinkable and true community possible.
A Community of Consciousness
It is only through a profound shift in consciousness that a new society will be born. We all must undergo this shift. A change in consciousness always precedes any change in institutions, laws or social patterns. The necessary change is specific: from “I am Separate” to “We are One”. We can’t solve our problems with the same consciousness that created them. Our deep divisions and seemingly insurmountable problems are leading us to new ways of working together. Einstein said that we cannot solve our problems with the same consciousness that created them. Our deep divisions and seemingly insurmountable problems are leading us to new ways of working together.
A Healthy Culture
We can re-create our culture. We can create new patterns of behaviors, ones that are based on our highest values, not our lowest fears. We can transform our fear-based culture to one of integrity and authenticity. Our current culture is repressive: we are afraid of each other, and act out that fear on a daily basis. Fear is an essential element of our institutions: we buy things because we fear each other and we don’t feel good about ourselves.
Our true values lie beyond empty posturing, political sloganeering and campaign rhetoric. We are stronger than our fears and better than our self-imposed limitations. Through Commonway, we are encouraged to discover and practice our core values, which include:
Keepers, Breakers, Menders
Our world is created by our consciousness. The world will change once our consciousness changes. Commonway identifies three distinct patterns of consciousness, each with an accompanying story.
Keepers: those who live within the Sacred Hoop. Those who have always lived within the Earth’s tolerances. We know them as indigenous people or “native” people.
Breakers: those who break the Sacred Hoop, who try to live ON TOP of the Earth. Those who practice “I am Separate” – from the Earth, from other humans, even from themselves.
Menders: those of us who are pledged to heal the Sacred Hoop, who live the values of the Keepers while trying to MEND the damage done by the Breakers. Those who practice “We are One”.
Our task is to shift the consciousness of humans on this planet, in time to save ourselves from destruction and to propel humanity to the Way Forward.
Inclusivity: Acting Like We Are One
Inclusivity means the recognition that all beings are inextricably linked to each other. Because of this linkage, all attempts to “defeat” the Other are ultimately self-defeating. (However, inclusivity does not necessarily imply unity -- that everyone is doing the same thing under the same cultural imperatives.)
The purpose of Commonway is to teach and practice Inclusivity. Inclusivity is the Golden Rule in action. Inclusivity is recognizing that my life, my fate, my future is inextricably linked to yours. With Inclusivity, there is no “Other”. Inclusivity -- identifying with and connecting to “The Other” -- is what makes violence unthinkable.
Balancing Our Relationships
The purpose of Commonway is to help people learn and practice human ecology, the transformation of all toxic and dysfunctional elements of our society for a healthier and more sustainable world. If our social/cultural/spiritual life is an ecology, at present it is a highly toxic one. Human ecology is the healing and dynamic equilibrium of human populations with each other and with our environment, with the goal of affirming and sustaining life in all its diversity.
Commitment to a New Society
Commonway helps people achieve a balanced human environment by teaching a new form of social/cultural activism: “The Advocacy of the Whole”. Commonway teaches non-violent and inclusive ways of addressing and resolving issues.
In the face of crisis, conflict and disaster:
• We can learn to think differently about our problems, and therefore invite new solutions
• We can learn to work in ways that model our highest ideals instead of our lowest fears.
• We can learn to pull together instead of apart.
• We can operate from shared values and common purpose, instead of shared fears and antagonism.
• We can find safety and security in inclusive community, rather than separation and conflict.
Tools for Transcending Conflict
• Through various projects, Commonway has developed tools for transcending conflict. These tools include:
• The “Advocacy of the Whole”. Commonway workers are “Advocates of the Whole”; we work not for any individuals or groups, but are trained to see all sides in a conflict and to resolve the conflict to the honest satisfaction of all parties. This may mean re-defining “winning” in such a way that all sides can have their needs met.
• “Safe environments”: establishing that our process is safe for all parties, that Commonway does not take sides.
• “Single Issue Meetings”: Clarifying what each party wants, before they come to the table. This is the place where the common ground becomes clear.
• “All Stakeholder Meetings”: Inviting all stakeholders to a discussion; not just including those who claim to represent others. People can represent themselves. This dilutes the power of ideologues in favor of ordinary people.
• “The Magnet”: inviting all sides to the table, using something that all parties want as the impetus to come to the table.
• “Common Ground” empowered dialog. The way to peace is found when ordinary people can come together in an empowered dialog to determine their best interests. In order to do this, they have to find “common ground”: a safe environment with neutral facilitators within which the dialog takes place.
• “Assertive Consensus”: all parties led through ever-deepening levels of consensus, allowing them to build trust in the process and trust in each other.
• “Spiritual Consensus”: parties are invited to their highest level of transcendent knowing to seek a spiritual (non-religious) resolution to conflict.
• “Reconciliation”: It may be impossible for some levels of conflict to be reconciled. Parties can get stuck trying to re-interpret each other’s history. Therefore, consensus may be that parties agree not to discuss certain hurtful parts of their history, at least until they can resolve their present difficulties and establish a certain level of trust.
• “Forgiveness”: Forgiveness must be an integral part of reconciliation. What form that takes in any particular conflict remains to be seen. In South Africa, “forgiveness” was linked to public disclosure and confession (and forgiveness) of one’s prior role in the Apartheid regime. In the Czech Republic, “forgiveness” has not been linked to public disclosure; there were too many millions of people who collaborated with the prior communist regime. Which method works best will only be determined on a case by case, nation by nation, people by people, basis.
[If you wish to go to the original "classic" Commonway Philosophy web page, click here.]