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The ToBe Project
How to facilitate a global ‘We the People’
by Jim Rough

3. Argumentation demonstrating how the model meets the assessment criteria (no more than 2750 words)
For each of the criteria listed below, the participant must provide convincing arguments as to how the proposed model meets the criterion.

1. Core Values. Decisions within the governance model must be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human beings.

I believe that the Box system undermines these core values. Of course, we need to articulate the “rules of the game,” but this structure shouldn’t ultimately be in charge. Because 1) it sets up a competitive dynamic, a motivation toward maximizing self-interest rather than aiming for the good of humankind. And (2) it sets up decision-making without assuring the essential choice-creating conversation. The root for the word “decision” illustrates the problem. It means “to cut away, “ to “select the best and discard the rest.” And this orientation diminishes minority views, people, and feelings.

When there is no whole-system choice-creating conversation, people form “special interest groups” vs. serving the “public interest.” They become competitive and self-interested because that’s what the Box encourages. For instance, consider the lot of environmentalists. They seek to serve the good of all humankind. So theoretically they are a “public interest group.” But because they are in a Box system, to be effective they must become a “special interest group” doing battle against other groups. But these other groups really are “special interest groups.”

Instead, we are proposing a way to establish the Circle system, which supports the core values. The ToBe Project invites every person into a new whole-system conversation. And this conversation is the conversation where We the People ultimately take charge. And the nature of choice-creating supports the core values even more because it’s aimed at listening and respecting diverse voices, where we all seek the good of humankind. Of course, we still need a written constitution and still use decision-making. But now, maybe for just 2% of the time, we also remember who we really are ... what we really want ... and seek real relationships with others and with nature.

Perhaps a good example is to think about what happens when we play a game. During the game we are self-interested. We want to win. But we always remember that this is just a game. And outside the game is Real Life, where we come back to our true selves and put aside that self-interested motivation. ... I believe this is the fundamental problem of our current society. We have lost track of “Real Life.” And as a result we conceive of human nature ... and ourselves ... as less than we really are. The
ToBe Project provides a way for everyone to keep playing the game, but to step out of it periodically and remember who we really are: people seeking to live respectfully of others and committed to the well-being of all. And then from “Real Life,” we design the necessary constitutional structures.

2. Decision-Making Capacity. Decision-making within the governance model must generally be possible without crippling delays that prevent the challenges from being adequately addressed (e.g. due to parties exercising powers of veto).

Yes, “veto power” by particular nations is unfair and can cause crippling delays, and shouldn’t be part of a new constitutional structure. But I think the problem goes deeper than just the structure of the decision-making process, to the nature of decision-making itself.

For instance, we could set up a fair voting process with a protective balance of powers. That sounds fast and good. But consider what happened recently in the United States where after decades of effort, a new health care bill was finally passed under the Obama administration. But then for seven years the opposition party undermined this decision, promising to “repeal and replace” it. So maybe the decision wasn’t really made. And what seemed fast was really slow.

The real difficulty is that decision-making is judgmental. It does not allow for people to adequately process their emotions. The
ToBe Project provides a way for those people to reach near unity in a short time because it supports people to address their emotional hang ups, like resentments, impulses to revenge, an ego-driven quest for power, and fears for security. By establishing an ongoing whole-system choice-creating conversation, a We the People conversation, the ToBe Project helps us to work through these hold ups and generate win/win answers.

When choice-creating is part of the process there is little need for veto power anyway, because even the smallest voice is sought out, heard and valued. It’s paradoxical. In this process it looks like we provide veto power for every individual. That seems like things might go slower. But the Wisdom Council is designed for these same people to be authentic, so it’s not a veto as much as it is an honoring all voices. In the end we want everyone to support the final conclusion. That is, in this process we facilitate a transition from decision-making to choice-creating, which avoids judgment and marginalization to include feelings and options beyond just policy.

3. Effectiveness. The governance model must be capable of handling the global challenges and risks and include means to ensure implementation of decisions. 

If we are to adequately address complex global issues like climate change then we need to recognize the limitations of decision-making as a thinking process. Ecological issues, for instance, cannot adequately be managed through “laws,” no matter what laws are made. And certainly these laws cannot be established through a power struggle if they are to be aimed at the public interest. Key to addressing and solving global challenges like climate change, or poverty, or wars, is the quality of conversation by which we all face these problems and figure out what to do. Our ultimate choice may incorporate laws, but the real solution often goes beyond laws ... to building trust, respecting nature, coherent individual actions, building community spirit, etc. The Circle model of governance is capable of handling these big issues and implementing more than just policy decisions. Policy decisions will certainly arise. But they will be in the public interest and be determined with widespread support.

Generally, our most pressing global challenges are created by our system. That is, to really address issues like climate change not only do we need to face and solve that issue directly through new technologies, taxes, regulations, etc., but we also need a deep systemic transformation. We need to restructure our society so that our institutions of economics, for instance, naturally become stewards of our planet instead of destroyers. This shift in our system can happen through a global Wisdom Council process.

Looking specifically at implementation ...

First, with enough money and media support a few of us can start The ToBe Project. We don’t need to ask for permission. Of course, we’ll seek the support of governments, media and international institutions but they aren’t essential.

Furthermore, we don’t need to sell this process to large numbers of people before we begin. We can just start randomly selecting global citizens, bringing them together, and facilitating them to reach unity on monster issues. To the extent that others pay attention to the results of different Wisdom Councils and talk about them, the public will grow in understanding and support for the expressed “will of the people.” Then when crises occur and people feel fearful and confused, vast numbers will come to respect this voice and find themselves becoming part of the conversation. So we can just implement this approach.

Second, the choice-creating thinking process naturally generates energy for implementation. When people face important issues, work with others and co-create answers, they become excited about putting those answers into form. They feel connected with others and there’s little energy of opposition. This is unlike our current decision-making approach where there is always oppositional energy, where special interest groups do their best to maintain power. So the process itself leads to rapid implementation of the ultimate choices.

Third, consider what happens by convening regular Wisdom Councils even when the Wisdom Council doesn’t come up with a clear perspective. Let’s say they just speak the obvious: “Our planet is in real danger from climate change caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions.” This pointing to the elephant in the room is incredibly powerful in catalyzing changes to laws, corporate strategies, media emphasis, and to the culture directly. This kind of statement provides the United Nations, national governments and NGO’s a powerful new platform for action, which is currently missing. It provides a basis for future Wisdom Councils to ask, “What progress are we making on the issue selected last time? ... What do we need to do next?” So just bringing the Wisdom Council together generates a new level of implementation of diverse coordinated actions.

4. Resources and Financing. The governance model must have sufficient human and material resources at its disposal, and these resources must be financed in an equitable manner.

This approach is not very expensive. What does it take to randomly select a few world citizens, bring them together, and facilitate them in conversation?

Of course, there are expenses. We need to hire a well-respected polling firm to obtain random people. We need to hire organizers, translators, computer networkers and facilitators to provide for a large-scale conversation. We’ll need a small office somewhere. We need to assure that Wisdom Councils happen regularly, that large numbers of people pay attention, and that all have some way to share their views with others.

We’ll pursue an equitable funding approach like crowd funding, but the source of funding isn’t so critical for
the ToBe Project because no one is excluded. We want to get everyone involved in co-designing the global constitution. We want to hear the voices of all. And there’s no power struggle, where people are worried which group the funders belong to. So the worries about funding are greatly reduced with this process. But we’ll aim to gain funding through crowd sourcing as well as prize-winning and individual philanthropyists.

5. Trust and Insight. The trust enjoyed by a successful governance model and its institutions relies on transparency and considerable insight into power structures and decision-making.

Maybe the most important factor in assuring trust in a new constitutional framework is the process by which it was developed ... and continues to be developed. Was it created through a one-time negotiation of national representatives? ... Or is it continually being created through a public conversation among all citizens?

ToBe Project sets up a public choice-creating conversation where the people look at our problems and seek solutions. In time people will notice that even though, at first, we made no outward changes to existing institutions, just by meeting in this way we have fundamentally transformed our system of governance to the Circle, where “We the People” set the direction for society. And in this process new values are encouraged ... like people being treated equally, everyone working together, listening to divergent voices, sparking shared discovery etc.
And of course, in solving big problems people will discover the need to establish new institutions and procedures for collective decision-making, a global constitution. Because we all see the need for this constitution and write it together, we operate within a transparent model. Trust is there because our motives are clear.

6. Flexibility. In order to be able to fulfill its objectives effectively, a successful governance model must contain mechanisms that allow for revisions and improvements to be made to its structure and components.

Unlike a Box approach, in the Circle process we will have a procedure for amending the constitution. But we aren’t primarily dependent it for substantive change. This process is dynamic by nature. It’s less about the written contract or constitution and more about the ongoing conversation by which the social contract gets created. In the Circle system this conversation is ongoing and it is ultimately in charge, more so than the constitution.

We can’t say what the amendment procedure will be because it will be established by all citizens talking together. But more importantly whatever changes are needed will arise from the continued talking and thinking of
We the People. When it becomes clear that a change is needed, then the Wisdom Council will clarify that, or at least they facilitate experts to clarify what’s best and then adopt it.

7. Protection against the Abuse of Power. A control system must be in place to take action if the organization should overstep its mandate, e.g. by unduly interfering with the internal affairs of nation-states or favouring the special interests of individuals, groups, organizations, states or groups of states.

In constitutional systems driven by a written social contract (the Box) abuse of power is a threat. Ultimately behind the scenes a power struggle determines who gets their way. And often they can twist or circumvent the established process in doing so.

In trying to address this problem theorists will often look to the methods of “deliberative democracy,” trying to help citizens and elected officials be more rational in assessing things. Our approach is choice-creating. When people are afraid, their feelings don’t magically disappear because they’ve been encouraged to “be rational.” These feeling tend to arise again, like in a mass movement to accept an authoritarian leader, even one that works against their interests and against the system. Of course, there are some protections against this in designing a balance of powers, for example, but the feelings don’t resolve this way. So, even with a well-designed constitution and a strong balance of powers, abuse of power is still a possibility.

The best protection against abuse of power is to provide a way for all the people to stop and think together periodically in the spirit of choice-creating. Then they can speak authentically and safely about their fears and desires, and come to a real resolution. This is the strategy we are pursuing through the ToBe Project. In this way we can consciously face issues like climate change and think them through to real answers. Here’s how we can come to our senses beyond the reach of rage radio, fear mongering politicians, fake news, and authoritarian appeals to blaming some minority group.

At first glance it might seem like the Wisdom Council process itself could be corrupted by an abuse of power. But this would be very difficult to achieve. Yes, one might try to corrupt members of a official Wisdom Council. But generally people see right away when someone isn’t being authentic. And since the process requires everyone to come together in unity, this can only happen when everyone is authentic. So it won’t work to corrupt individual members of the Wisdom Council.

Or maybe an authoritarian leader would try to cancel the official Wisdom Council altogether. But that’s hard to do too. Just a few well-meaning people can restart things quickly by randomly selecting 12-24 people and DF’ing them to reach unity. Bottom line: This process works because it taps into a legitimate undercurrent of thoughtfulness and respectfulness within most everyone. As experience grows with this process and people start recognizing their true nature, they will also recognize its importance and support it to continue.

8. Accountability. It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and the governance model must include the power to hold the decision-makers accountable for their actions.

We propose facilitating a global We the People into existence, which can establish the constitution, set the direction for society, task government to help achieve certain aims, adjust the constitution and hold decision-makers accountable. We the People also provide direction to religious and corporate leaders, consumers, NGO’s, the media, the culture, etc., because solving real problems does not just involve government. We the People involves all of us ... and how we act in concert.
Ultimately, We the People are responsible for global society, not governments or global institutions. And We have ultimate power to change things. But currently, there is no We the People.

Please help take this plan forward in any way you can.