1. It’s time for a New Reality, and here’s why:

Founder and editor Ted Wachtel

Founder and editor Ted Wachtel

We need a new reality, because the reality we’re living in now has some serious shortcomings.

You and I might disagree on details, but throughout the world there is widespread mistrust of our institutions and our leaders. Most of us feel that powerful elites control decision-making in government, and that we have little real say in much of anything.

I worry about my children’s and grandchildren’s future. I don’t like the direction the world is heading. I trust there are many who share my concerns.

The human race has acquired awesome powers. Through our technology, we can create and destroy as never before. It seems that our technological skills have outpaced our social skills. We’ve become a threat to ourselves and to other living things.

We struggle to make good decisions or get along with one another without conflict and violence. Wherever we look, we see corruption and what seems to be a spiral of increasingly crazy behavior. Sometimes we just wonder, “Who is in charge here? Where are all the grownups?”

But my purpose is not to complain. Rather, I would like to inform readers about promising alternatives to the current reality, and promote their thoughtful use and evaluation.

In April, 2016, I began posting a series of 5-6 minute video blog posts. “Building a New Reality,” my first video blog post, introduces my purposes and concerns. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to watch or read it.

Building A New Reality Video

Restorative Practices

All of my ideas and blog posts about a new reality rest on the unifying foundation of restorative practices (RP), a new social science that studies “participatory learning and decision-making.”

It is the focus of the IIRP (International Institute for Restorative Practices), the accredited master’s degree-granting graduate school that I founded in 2000 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

International Institute for Restorative Practices logo

International Institute for Restorative Practices

RP hypothesizes that “people are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.”

This premise constitutes the main thread of a “theory of everyone.” If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to watch or read The Theory of Everyone.

The Theory of Everyone video

A growing body of evidence supports the theory, and shows that “participatory learning and decision-making” work better than “top-down hierarchical decision-making,” in most situations.

The benefit of RP in every setting of society—from family to school to workplace to government—is to offer individuals more voice and more choice, in exchange for taking more responsibility.

Operationalizing the Golden Rule

RP operationalizes the so-called “Golden Rule.”

It’s one thing to express the classic wisdom, advocated by many religions and cultures, that we should “treat others the way we would like to be treated.” But it’s another thing to actually do it, when faced with the challenges of everyday life.

RP provides explicit strategies to engage us in avoiding or repairing harm, building relationships, learning truth and promoting good decision-making—even in the midst of complexity and conflict.

Because meaningful engagement—doing things with—achieves the best outcomes, it is at the heart of everything we do.

Six Behaviors To Encourage Good Conversations

  1. Refuse to demonize those who disagree with us, but instead try to understand each other’s perspective.
  2. Respect each other’s feelings and speak to each other with civility.
  3. Recognize that most of us agree on most of life’s big issues, aside from the few where we differ.
  4. Refrain from talking in slogans, labeling people, and incorrectly assuming that those who disagree with us all think the same way.
  5. Make decisions based on evidence, rather than ideology.
  6. Value discovering the truth more than winning.

It’s not essential that we all agree with each other on everything. But it is essential that each of us feel included in the conversation. More voice, more choice and more responsibility—all three are integral to an effective democracy and healthy free enterprise system.

Six Facets of a New Reality

As a framework for discussion, I have sketched six facets of a new reality, which encompass the needs and activities of daily life.

The six facets are:

Six Facets Infographic (small)

Learning    |    Governance    |    Care    |    Justice    |    Enterprise    |    Spirit

 

The six facets may be perceived and used in several ways:

  • as descriptors, to map developments and to compare one facet to another
  • as needs that must be addressed by society
  • or as lenses, through which the other facets and the new reality as a whole can be viewed

Most significantly, the six facets represent a framework for action that

  • defines the dimensions of a non-partisan, evidenced-based social movement, which
  • improves learning and decision-making processes.

We invite you to learn more.