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Hi, it’s Brad again!
We sent you an email a few days ago, telling you about the work that our Radical Honesty Trainers have been doing in the world, and we shared a list of recently passed and upcoming workshops. We’ve received a few questions since sending that last email, so here we are with more information!

Below, you’ll find links to each of the individual workshops on the Radical Honesty site. One of these workshops will be led by me, and all the rest of them are being led by our wonderful Certified Trainers, all over Europe and the states. When you visit a workshop page on our site you’ll find details about each specific workshop and what’s being offered. You’ll find information including the dates, times, location and cost, and you’ll learn about the Trainer/s leading the workshop and how to contact them with questions, and to register.

Without further ado, here’s the list of upcoming workshops:

Weekend Workshop in Amsterdam: September 15-17, 2017 (Led by Trainer Tuulia Syvanen)

Weekend Workshop in Helsinki: September 22-24, 2017 (Led by Trainer Tuulia Syvanen)

Weekend Workshop in Vienna: September 22-24, 2017 (Led by Trainer Marvin Schulz)

Weekend Workshop in Denver, CO: September 29- October 1, 2017 (Led by Trainers John Rosania and Lindsay St. Antoine, and Trainer Candidate Tony Shawcross)

Intensive Autumn Retreat in Finland: October 4-8, 2017 (Led by Trainer Tuulia Syvanen)

Weekend Workshop in Vienna: October 13-15, 2017 (Led by Trainer Tuulia Syvanen)

Weekend Workshop in Asheville, NC: October 14 & 15, 2017 (Led by Trainer Raven Dana)

Weekend Workshop in Prague: October 20-22, 2017 (Led by Trainers Sebastian James and Marvin Schulz)

Weekend Workshop in Munich: October 28-29, 2017 (Led by Trainers Christoph Fink and Selina Jung)

Weekend Workshop in Amsterdam with Brad Blanton: November 17-19, 2017

Intensive Retreat Workshop in Holland: December 7-10, 2017 (Led by Trainer Tuulia Syvanen)

Weekend Workshop in Cologne: January 12-14, 2018 (Led by Trainers Tuulia Syvanen and Pete Jordan)

Weekend Workshop in Amsterdam: January 19-21, 2018 (Led by Trainers Tuulia Syvanen and Pete Jordan)

9-Day Intensive Workshop in Tenerife (Canary Islands): February 3-11, 2018 (Led by Trainers Tuulia Syvanen and Pete Jordan)

Weekend Workshop in Miami Shores, FL: February 17 & 18, 2018 (Led by Trainer Raven Dana)

I’m so happy that all of these great people have worked with me to become Radical Honesty Trainers, and that they’re so enthusiastic about practicing Radical Honesty in their everyday lives, and in a workshop setting with all of you. I hope you’ll take them up on their offers and join them for a workshop- there’s nothing like the experience of coming together with other truthtellers and sticking together, face to face, telling the truth for the duration of a live workshop- it’s just SENSATIONALLife is just sensational when life is just sensational! I think we’re all gonna create amazing things together.

Love, Brad

P.S. Master Trainer Taber Shadburne and I will be leading a few more workshops in 2018, including the Trainer’s Training that we’ll lead together in June, and these workshops will be added to our site once we’ve made our plans. We’ll also let you know about these workshops in future newsletters, as soon as we’ve got them on the calendar.

We’ve been Cursed with a Blessing…

…and Blessed with a Curse! And We’re So Lucky!

What a life! What a world! What a time to be alive! What a fine time to offer a way through to what is missing in billions of people’s lives. Like Imagethe song says, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” And we know something about love. We have books and workshops and trainers and people who love out loud who know in their hearts and bodies and heads that the pathway to love is through revealing what is so with openness and vulnerability, namely, Radical Honesty.

Here is a summary of the work in the world that Radical Honesty Trainers have brought about, and are bringing about in the near future! Bless our hearts!

2017 Workshops
1/13/17- 1/15/17 London, Tuulia Syvanen
1/19/17- 1/22/17 Holland, Tuulia Syvanen
2/4/17- 2/5/17 Zurich, Tuulia Syvanen
2/18/17- 2/25/17 Florida, Brad Blanton
3/11/17- 3/12/17 Finland, Tuulia Syvanen
3/22/17- 3/26/17 Finland, Tuulia Syvanen
4/7/17- 4/9/17 Amsterdam, Tuulia Syvanen
4/21/17- 4/23/17 Prague, Brad Blanton
4/28/17- 4/30/17 Berlin, Tuulia Syvanen
5/5/17- 5/7/17 Amsterdam, Tuulia Syvanen
5/26/17- 5/28/17 Lithuania, Tuulia Syvanen
6/2/17- 6/4/17 Zurich, Marvin Schulz
6/5/17- 6/6/17 Munich, Christoph Fink & Selina Jung
6/12/17- 6/14/17 Amsterdam, Tuulia Syvanen
6/17/17- 6/25/17 Italy, Taber Shadburne
7/8/17- 7/9/17 Munich, Christoph Fink & Selina Jung
7/14/17- 7/16/17 Vienna, Taber Shadburne
7/14/14- 7/21/17 Greece, Tuulia Syvanen
7/21/17- 7/23/17 Hamburg, Taber Shadburne
8/9/17- 8/14/17 Finland, Tuulia Syvanen
8/15/17- 8/22/17 Greece, Brad Blanton
8/25/17- 8/27/17 Los Angeles, John Rosania & Michael Kolb
9/5/17- 9/10/17 Germany, Christoph Fink & Selina Jung
9/8/17- 9/10/17 Germany, Tuulia Syvanen
9/15/17- 9/17/17 Amsterdam, Tuulia Syvanen
9/22/17- 9/24/17 Finland, Tuulia Syvanen
9/22/17- 9/24/17 Vienna, Marvin Schulz
9/23/17- 9/24/17 Cleveland, Raven Dana
9/29/17- 10/1/2017 Denver, John Rosania, Tony Shawcross, & Lindsay
10/4/17- 10/8/17 Finland, Tuulia Syvanen
10/13/17- 10/15/17 Vienna, Tuulia Syvanen
10/14/17- 10/15/17 North Carolina, Raven Dana
10/20/17- 10/22/17 Prague, Sebastian Holovsky & Marvin Schulz
10/20/17- 10/22/17 North Carolina, Michael Kolb & John Rosania
10/28/17- 10/29/17 Munich, Christoph Fink & Selina Jung
11/17/17- 11/19/17 Amsterdam, Brad Blanton
12/7/17- 12/10/17 Holland, Tuulia Syvanen
2/3/18- 2/11/18 Canary Islands, Tuulia Syvanen & Pete Jordan
6/?/18- 6/?/18 Italy, Brad Blanton & Taber Shadburne and Tuulia and Pete- THE FIRST EUROPEAN TRAINER’S TRAINING!

Look at how many people we have been serving! Look at how many we are gearing up to serve!! I will be leading a Weekend Workshop in Amsterdam in November and I’d love to see that filled to capacity- there are just a few spots left- join me! And then 2018 will begin with an 8 Day Workshop in the Canary Islands, led by two of our most prolific Trainers, Tuulia Syvanen and Pete Jordan- these longer intensives are THE BEST WAY to really experience practicing Radical Honesty within a committed community- sign up now and get in on the early bird pricing. And in June of 2018 we will have our next Trainer’s Training in Cossignano Italy!!! Taber Shadburne and I will be co-leading the training and it’ll be our best yet, and we’ll be certifying more trainers and setting them up in business, making a living, teaching Radical Honesty all over the world. Stay tuned for Trainer’s Training details.

I really think the world is coming our way!

ImageWe have been practicing and looking for and looking at people practicing Radical Honesty for years now, (AND WE KNOW HOW AND WHY IT WORKS!). We get that Radical Honesty is the key to intimacy, and that intimacy based on honest sharing is the very source of happiness between and among people. Furthermore, We completely get, as Amanda Palmer said, “…when we really see each other we want to help each other.” *(quoted on p.232 of Talk Like TED” by Carmine Gallo)

Getting this simple but profound idea and experience of honesty, both at the same time, are critical to not only our happiness but the kind Imageof thinking necessary for our very survival. When we really get each other we fall in love with each other, help each other, and we want to work together to help others do what we are doing. The headlines of what happens when people who have got it together get together, show up in a sequence, like this:

  1. People who help each other want to keep helping each other and help others: love gets passed forward through open, vulnerable, honest sharing.
  2. Honest sharing between and among people connected at the heart, is key to the emergence of a greater love toward other people. (So then we have to learn how to tolerate joy, then how to enjoy joy! Most of us don’t know how to do that, but we can learn from those who do.)
  3.  Heart connected thinking triggers an ongoing, evolving, co-hearted, co-intelligent, co-operative, mutually shared genius (which is needed to save sapiens from themselves, and support our evolution into a loving future instead of a dead end street.)
  4. This leads to more nourished, less damaged people, less damage to children, and to more “loving genius groups” that form and reform and cooperate as tag teams in running the world for the benefit of all of us.

AND we have Donald Trump and his friends and family out there as poster children for lying and hatred and a sociopathic lack of empathy. What better model could we have for showing people what not to do and how not to live, and revealing Korporate Kannibalism and greed for what it is? Bless our poor little God damned hearts!

Radical Honesty Master Trainer Taber Shadburne just sent me these two magnificent links, below…where these great performers reveal how they are performing as honestly as one can. I love it!

Thought Leader
and this one:
How to Sound Smart in Your TEDx Talk

Thanks for being here with us!

ImageLove, Brad and the Crew

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian who has written two books about how human beings, once much less significant as a minor species in central and north Africa, have, in the last 70 thousand years taken over the world. We did it, he says, because we are the only species who can cooperate in mass because of our ability to believe things in large numbers and line up together for common causes. This unique skill has been the key to us taking over the world.

Here is the link to his TED talk and references.

We have created together, over the last few thousand years, legal fictions of various kinds to act according to, as if they were reality—things like nation states, borders, alliances, marriages, divorces, etc. We have done this because of our ability to believe the same things together and act accordingly in large numbers.

Though professor Herarri is brilliant and charming and must be right, his news is not all good news. Ability to believe the same thing at the same time en mass, is also the ability to be deluded together. Beliefs are often found to be wrong. And to act according to our beliefs is often to act in opposition to contrary beliefs of other large groups of believers. And this results in religious wars and their equivalents, large and small, that have raged all over the planet for thousands of years.

I, personally, have put in a lifetime helping people get over believing in beliefs and ultimately over believing in belief, itself, altogether. I have been a clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C. for over 35 years (where I became an expert on lying, of course—who wouldn’t living in that place and being a therapist for lawyers and bureaucrats). I am the author of the nationwide best selling book Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth, (now published in 14 languages) and a series of 7 other books on pretty much the same topic.

The therapeutic work I do with individuals, couples, families, groups and other collectives…works—because people who are being honest with each other, and get to know each other authentically through Radical Honesty, work their way through to forgiveness and renewal and everyone feels a hell of a lot better having gone through that process.

By far the greatest mistakes and tragedies of human interaction among people who know each other come from holding back, hiding, being careful not to reveal what is so, keeping secrets and lying.

Because of the rightness of Yuval Herarri’s beliefs about the power of people holding beliefs in common and acting in common, we need to talk about the vice imbedded in that virtue. Sometimes groups of people act against other groups with different beliefs.

The belief groups that win are not always the best. But we muddle along. Bloodily, wastefully, stupidly, vigorously ignorant and lying like hell, belief systems evolve, devolve and revolve as we go on.

Honesty is powerful in resolving conflict and renewing burnt out cults of liars, and changing dysfunctional beliefs, for a while, into more functional ones. Still, I do not recommend honesty all the time.

Every time I smoke a joint I don’t call up the local Sherriff and say, “Hey, I’m smoking marijuana over here. I just thought you would like to know.” And, as I have said many times, if you have Anne Frank in the attic and a Nazi knocks on the door and asks, “Are there any Jews in this house?” lie to the sonofabitch. I am not an idealist. I am a pragmatist. And I am not a fool. I recommend Radical Honesty because it works pretty good most of the time, creates and then resolves conflict, relieves and reduces suffering, etc. And it is the only thing that allows us to check with each other, dependably, to see if or when we are crazy—even though checking with each other when we are all crazy, doesn’t help.

Honesty among people related to each other who have conflicts, works because the process of getting over shit is not blocked by withholding. People who give up the resistance that causes the persistence of problems, have things come and go, rather than persist. And they get over things by feeling their way through to completion and forgiveness. Lying simply doesn’t work as well to get satisfaction, even for the person who appears to “benefit” from a lie, because they know they are the con artist who fooled the other and they can never get over anything and move on.

There are lots of ways to lie. But withholding is the most pernicious form of lying. To just not mention what you think or feel or know—keeping it secret—is the most poisonous form of lying there is. This is true in intimate relationships between people, in families, at work and in relationships in general. Withholding is the poison that sickens and kills relationships. Love doesn’t just die. It is replaced. And often it is replaced with hate that comes from idealistic lying.

Meanwhile, politically, economically, and governmentally, secrecy is elevated to a station of high honor. The CIA and FBI are our great protectors. People who categorize what we can know and share and what we cannot, are elevated to positions of authority, respect and wealth. We are supposed to keep secrets for our national security. Why?

Why can’t we be honest with people we don’t know personally? Why should we think that government itself would be an exception to the general rule that honesty is, (among known enemies and friends) in fact, the best thing to try among strangers? Why can’t we have honesty work on a larger scale?

Why do we have almost 30 known secret agencies in our government? (and a few secret, secret agencies as well!) How in the hell can you have a democracy when people cannot be allowed to know what the fuck is going on?

I have something to say to Trump supporters and Bernie supporters and everyone in between. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or one of those Dempublicrats (Dem public rats!)— Secrecy is lying. Protected lying is deadly, on a large scale, sucks, kills, kills the wrong people, fucks up the world, kills other species and will kill almost all of what now lives on earth, including humankind.

In human interactions secrecy kills. Secrecy ruins things. Lying through withholding is much worse than bothersome, shocking or painful revelations. You can get over being hurt by the truth.

It is much harder to try to learn to see in the dark. “Security” is code for a protected lie. Secret agencies lie and are created to lie. Withholding is lying. Secrecy is not only not necessary in 99% of instances in which it is protected, secrecy is the greatest block to the resolution of conflict and the primary cause of further conflict.

The CIA is bullshit. The FBI is bullshit. The other 24 or so military and government “security” agencies of the U.S. government are all bullshit. The politics of secrecy, the arguments of when it is and when it is not justified are also all bullshit.

Diplomacy is not an alternative to war, it is the primary cause of war. Diplomats are not heroes they are liars who create war. You cannot trust any agency that has not only permission but a requirement that it lie to you by withholding. And we are supposed to fucking be grateful for it! “Yes!” They say. “We are here to protect you! And you should be grateful for it!”

Corporations that kill for profit are protected by organized liars within and political and economic legal institutions without. These institutions exist to protect thieves and murderers from having to tell the truth and deal with the consequences.

So we have two sets of hearings in Senate and House committees? One open. One “top secret”. Am I the only one who wants to shit in my hand and throw it at them when they do that?

We protect the right to be lied to. It is our collective Stockholm syndrome. The secret agencies beat us up and abuse us… and we say “They didn’t hurt us. We just fell down the stairs and they really love us and they don’t abuse us” and we heap praise on our abusers for protecting us.

We are damned fools. We are idiots to even put up with secrecy because it defeats the possibility of democracy at all, much less count it as a blessing. The pundits never question the bullshit “work” of the sacred secret agencies. The biggest conspiracy of all, the biggest contradiction of terms, is “Secret Service.” Secrecy is not a God damned service.

The history of the United States as preached by politicians and patriots and teachers and many historians is total bullshit. The history of the United States, like the history of the World, is not a series of wonderful events with true sacrifice and love for others and star spangled wonderfulness but rather a shit storm or subjugation, theft, domination, enslavement, murder and sequential mass hysteria by selfish, insensitive, stupid, cruel, cowardly, perverse, murdering, lying motherfuckers.

One of the greatest developments of our current political times is the uncontrollable, wonderful breakthrough of “leaking.” People reveal information that is supposed to be kept secret to protect people who kill and maim for profit, who kill through withholding, who keep secrets that kill people and get paid money for doing so. Leaking makes me happy. Leakers are heroes. I say if you get pissed off, take a leak. Bless your heart!

Thank God for Donald Trump! He is one of the dumbest fucking liars of all time and therefore the potential savior of America and the World! Donald Trump is a hero because he is an incredible fool and even shit -for -brains dumb asses who are almost as ignorant as he is can see what a lying stupid sonofabitch he is. He works at it. And he doesn’t know when to quit and he can’t stop and he can’t be stopped by anyone else or by learning anything new. Leakers are heroes because they are tired of the Stockholm syndrome and they are not putting up with it anymore!

Capitalism is coming to an end. It is dying. It’s death will kill millions. Those of us who survive the guaranteed world wide economic crash coming up real soon now, will eventually have single payer healthcare and a temporary almost end of protected lying.

And maybe, just maybe, for a little while, before we run into the next little hidey hole of some new secrecy or other for “protection”, the truth will set us free. But not for long because people can’t stand freedom. So we will arrange to become slaves again as soon as we can. (But don’t tell anyone that. Keep it a secret. It is true though, that the truth sometimes will set us free, every now and then, and then we will volunteer for slavery again by trying to preserve it by keeping a secret, or making a special secret.)

There is nothing like a mind. It can turn shit to gold and gold back into shit again. I am telling you right now, secrecy is shit. Never forget it. And it stays that way until you tell the truth about it. Please do us all a favor and admit to your ongoing contribution to bullshit to replace coming forth with the truth.

Steven Colbert asked Louis C.K. “What do you think of Donald Trump?” Louis C.K. said: “He’s a lying sack of shit!”


I am talking to you now, dear reader. If you don’t know that you are a phony, or if you won’t admit that you lie like hell all the time, automatically, almost unceasingly, don’t waste your time reading any further. This is an article for and by occasionally recovering chronic liars…people like you and me…that make up most of humanity. We fortell the doom of humanity because of our great human power to enter into common delusional systems (cults). And we have a better alternative to our learned life as usual (heading pell mell for meltdown) –the life that proceeds directly from the guilt ridden Judao Christian tradition of moral righteousness in defense of secrecy and lies and bullshit.

The Alternative to Lying

Take a look at this video footage from our cult’s online course, “How to Get Over Shit and BE Happy” These are people who are at the very beginning of the process of admitting how much they exaggerate, withhold, act phony, manipulate and hide out while at the same time playing like they are coming forward with the truth.

And finally, here is an authoritative quote FROM THE ONION (One of the most HONEST FAKE NEWS sites in the world!)

CLEVELAND—During an unexpected moment of clarity Tuesday, open-minded man Blake Richman was suddenly struck by the grim realization that he’s squandered a significant portion of his life listening to everyone’s bullshit, the 38-year-old told reporters.

A visibly stunned and solemn Richman, who until this point regarded his willingness to hear out the opinions of others as a worthwhile quality, estimated that he’s wasted nearly three and a half years of his existence being open to people’s half-formed thoughts, asinine suggestions, and pointless, dumbfuck stories.

“Jesus Christ,” said Richman, taking in the overwhelming volume of useless crap he’s actively listened to over the years. “My whole life I’ve made a concerted effort to give people a fair shake and understand different points of view because I felt that everyone had something valuable to offer, but it turns out most of what they had to offer was complete bullshit.”

“Seriously,” Richman added, “what have I gained from treating everyone’s opinion with respect? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

According to Richman, it was just now hitting him how many hours of his life he’s pissed away listening intently to nonsense about celebrity couples, how good or bad certain pens are, and why a particular sports team might have a chance this year. The husband and father of two said that every time he’s felt at all put out or bored by a bullshit conversation—especially a speculative one about how bad allergy season was going to be—he should have just turned around, walked away, and gone rafting or rappelling or done any of the millions of other things he’s always wanted to do but never thought he had time for.

At various points throughout the day, Richman could be heard muttering to himself that he couldn’t believe he was almost 40 years old.

“Twenty minutes here, 10 minutes there. It all starts to add up,” said Richman, who sat down and figured out that between stupid discussions about favorite baby names and reviews of restaurants in cities he’ll never visit, he’d wasted 390 hours of his life. “And you know what the worst part is? It’s my fault. Here I thought being considerate to others by always listening patiently to what they had to say was the right thing to do. Well, fuck me, right?”

According to Richman, he started thinking about how much time he’s flushed down the toilet being an approachable person after a work meeting in which he let a coworker, David Martin, ramble on and on with an idea everyone knew was “total shit” the moment the man opened his mouth. Richman said that a single glance at the clock made him realize he had just spent 14 minutes of his finite time on earth not playing with his kids or being with his wife, but listening to garbage.

“It was like I stepped out of my body and saw myself actually listening to this man’s worthless drivel—but it wasn’t him who looked like a moron, it was me,” Richman said. “I was nodding my head like an asshole and saying ridiculous things like, ‘Right,’ and, ‘I see your point, Dave,’ when I should have just said, ‘Dave, your idea isn’t good and you are wasting our time and you need to shut up right now.'”

By his estimates, Richman’s receptiveness has resulted in 160 irreplaceable hours of listening to grossly uninformed political opinions, 300 hours of carefully hearing out both sides of pointless arguments, and at least a month of listening to his parents’ bullshit about how important it is to be open-minded.

Eighty days have been wasted on the inane blather of his college friend Brian alone.

“All those hours I could have been relaxing, or reading all these great books, or getting into shape, or working on side projects that I’m really excited about,” Richman said. “But instead I’ve been listening to overrated albums recommended to me by my asshole friends.”

“Did you know that in my life I’ve listened to five days’ worth of people talking about their furniture?” he added. “It’s true. That’s a trip to Europe right there.”

While Richman has vowed to cease being open-minded to absolute horseshit, acquaintances reflected on his approachability.

“I love Blake,” coworker David Martin said. “He’s such a good listener. A lot of people are closed-minded and self-absorbed, but Blake always makes an effort to hear where I’m coming from. The world could use more people like him.”

O.K. folks! We are all ignorant, consciousless, conscienceless cultists. We are just like Tronald Dump. We swim in an ocean of bullshit. We are drowning in it. It may already be too late to do anything about it. Start now to do what you can.

I believe we have to change these beliefs. And we have to start using beliefs like Kleenex napkins or toilet paper…use one and throw it away. Blow your nose or wipe your ass or get over your religion…and throw the fucking beliefs away.

That’s it. Start learning and practicing Radical Honesty for a while until we come up with something better. Radical Honesty is a roll of toilet paper.


P.S. You may have noticed that a lot of Radical Honesty workshops have been available in Europe lately, and not so many in the states… Well, a couple of our Certified Trainers have planned a few workshops in various cities across the states, and they’d love for you to join them! Here’s Trainer Raven Dana’s info on her upcoming workshops, and you can also check out Trainer John Rosania’s upcoming offerings, here.

And, as always you can find all of the Radical Honesty workshops being offered around the world by visiting the Workshops page on our site.

We create an honest environment for you to experiment.

There are so few places where we give ourselves permission to be fully who we are.

Our relationships, families, and workplaces are often built on lies, withholdings, and posturing. We edit, self-censor and perform. Over time, our personal sales pitch becomes who we think we are and we end up shamed, stressed, depressed, disconnected and trapped in our thoughts. We think there’s a much more alive way to live, and we want to share it with you.

Honesty Lab creates immersive Weekend Workshops based in Radical Honesty to counteract this situation, encouraging you to share who you really are in a community that values living out loud.

Learn more and register at honesty-lab.com.

My Dear Friends and Lovers,

The whole world is being educated about empathy these days. And that is not a bad thing. With that regard, I have here brilliant writing by Tom Atlee, Charles Eisenstein and myself. These guys blow my mind and warm the cockles of my heart. (Does anyone know what a cockle is?)

Tom Atlee wrote this short message in Tom Atlee’s Co-Intelligence Journal:

“What this message is about is in this quote from Charles Eisenstein:

“Normal is coming unhinged…. The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed under President Trump are likely to incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder…. We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve…. At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation….

We are entering a space between stories. After various retrograde versions of a new story rise and fall and we enter a period of true unknowing, an authentic next story will emerge. What would it take for it to embody love, compassion, and interbeing? I see its lineaments in those marginal structures and practices that we call holistic, alternative, regenerative, and restorative. All of them source from empathy, the result of the compassionate inquiry: What is it like to be you?….

Politically, empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together…. Something hurts in there. Can you feel it? We are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people…. If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement….”

– Charles Eisenstein

Tom Atlee continued:

The Trump doorway to an empathic new story

“In my view this remarkable essay – written immediately after the election – is becoming more true and important every day. It is close to a perfect statement of the case for active, engaged empathy as a socially and personally transformative strategy and response to the period of societal convulsion we are entering.

Charles Eisenstein – whose book SACRED ECONOMICS I celebrated several years ago – has named a deep root of the creative response that is called for by our rapidly emerging crises. I offer his naming of it here in its full integrity.

To his essay I want to add two strategic branches: 

(1) the development, training, and evolution of nonviolent theory and practice far beyond what even Gandhi and King imagined, an undertaking whose scope I can only glimpse at this time but whose necessity seems quite real to me and (2) the expansion of empathy into what I call Big Empathy and committed efforts to embed it into new forms of politics, economics, and culture.

I’ll leave it at that for now, so you can fully appreciate the transformational gem below, which I mentioned in a blog post 3 days after it was written but I want to highlight today as new intensities surface within us and everywhere around us, making its prescient message ever more compelling. Coheartedly, Tom”


The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story

by Charles Eisenstein

Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.

A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better. It would have obscured the reality of continued neoliberal economics, imperial wars, and resource extraction behind a veil of faux-progressive feminism. Now that we have, in the words of my friend Kelly Brogan, rejected a wolf in sheep’s clothing in favor of a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that illusion will be impossible to maintain.

The wolf, Donald Trump (and I’m not sure he’d be offended by that moniker) will not provide the usual sugarcoating on the poison pills the policy elites have foisted on us for the last forty years. The prison-industrial complex, the endless wars, the surveillance state, the pipelines, the nuclear weapons expansion were easier for liberals to swallow when they came with a dose, albeit grudging, of LGBTQ rights under an African-American President.

I am willing to suspend my judgment of Trump and (very skeptically) hold the possibility that he will disrupt the elite policy consensus of free trade and military confrontation – major themes of his campaign. One might always hope for miracles. However, because he apparently lacks any robust political ideology of his own, it is more likely that he will fill his cabinet with neocon war hawks, Wall Street insiders, and corporate reapers, trampling the wellbeing of the working class whites who elected him while providing them their own sugar-coating of social conservatism.

The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed under President Trump are likely to incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder. For Clinton supporters, many of whom were halfhearted to begin with, the Trump administration could mark the end of their loyalty to our present institutions of government. For Trump supporters, the initial celebration will collide with gritty reality when Trump proves as unable or unwilling as his predecessors to challenge the entrenched systems that continually degrade their lives: global finance capital, the deep state, and their programming ideologies. Add to this the likelihood of a major economic crisis, and the public’s frayed loyalty to the existing system could snap.

We are entering a time of great uncertainty. Institutions so enduring as to seem identical to reality itself may lose their legitimacy and dissolve. It may seem that the world is falling apart. For many, that process started on election night, when Trump’s victory provoked incredulity, shock, even vertigo. “I can’t believe this is happening!”

At such moments, it is a normal response to find someone to blame, as if identifying fault could restore the lost normality, and to lash out in anger. Hate and blame are convenient ways of making meaning out of a bewildering situation. Anyone who disputes the blame narrative may receive more hostility than the opponents themselves, as in wartime when pacifists are more reviled than the enemy.

Racism and misogyny are devastatingly real in this country, but to blame bigotry and sexism for voters’ repudiation of the Establishment is to deny the validity of their deep sense of betrayal and alienation. The vast majority of Trump voters were expressing extreme dissatisfaction with the system in the way most readily available to them. Millions of Obama voters voted for Trump (six states who went for Obama twice switched to Trump). Did they suddenly become racists in the last four years? The blame-the-racists (the fools, the yokels…) narrative generates a clear demarcation between good (us) and evil (them), but it does violence to the truth. It also obscures an important root of racism – anger displaced away from an oppressive system and its elites and onto other victims of that system. Finally, it employs the same dehumanization of the other that is the essence of racism and the precondition for war. Such is the cost of preserving a dying story. That is one reason why paroxysms of violence so often accompany a culture-defining story’s demise.

The dissolution of the old order that is now officially in progress is going to intensify. That presents a tremendous opportunity and danger, because when normal falls apart the ensuing vacuum draws in formerly unthinkable ideas from the margins. Unthinkable ideas range from rounding up the Muslims in concentration camps, to dismantling the military-industrial complex and closing down overseas military bases. They range from nationwide stop-and-frisk to replacing criminal punishment with restorative justice. Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions. When the animating force behind these new ideas is hate or fear, all manner of fascistic and totalitarian nightmares can ensue, whether enacted by existing powers or those that arise in revolution against them.

That is why, as we enter a period of intensifying disorder, it is important to introduce a different kind of force to animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble. I would call it love if it weren’t for the risk of triggering your New Age bullshit detector, and besides, how does one practically bring love into the world in the realm of politics? So let’s start with empathy. Politically, empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together.

We are existing in an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead. Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt. They grasp at straws of past glories and obsolete strategies; they create perfunctory and unconvincing shibboleths (Putin!), wandering aimlessly from “doctrine” to “doctrine” – and they have no idea what to do. Their haplessness and half-heartedness was plain to see in this election, their disbelief in their own propaganda, their cynicism. When even the custodians of the story no longer believe the story, you know its days are numbered. It is a shell with no engine, running on habit and momentum.

We are entering a space between stories. After various retrograde versions of a new story rise and fall and we enter a period of true unknowing, an authentic next story will emerge. What would it take for it to embody love, compassion, and interbeing? I see its lineaments in those marginal structures and practices that we call holistic, alternative, regenerative, and restorative. All of them source from empathy, the result of the compassionate inquiry: What is it like to be you?

It is time now to bring this question and the empathy it arouses into our political discourse as a new animating force. If you are appalled at the election outcome and feel the call of hate, perhaps try asking yourself, “What is it like to be a Trump supporter?” Ask it not with a patronizing condescension, but for real, looking underneath the caricature of misogynist and bigot to find the real person.

Even if the person you face IS a misogynist or bigot, ask, “Is this who they are, really?” Ask what confluence of circumstances, social, economic, and biographical, may have brought them there. You may still not know how to engage them, but at least you will not be on the warpath automatically. We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. So let’s stop making our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil.

We’ve got to stop acting out hate. I see no less of it in the liberal media than I do in the right-wing. It is just better disguised, hiding beneath pseudo-psychological epithets and dehumanizing ideological labels. Exercising it, we create more of it. What is beneath the hate? My acupuncturist Sarah Fields wrote to me, “Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When people lose the hate, they are forced to deal with the pain beneath.”

I think the pain beneath is fundamentally the same pain that animates misogyny and racism – hate in a different form. Please stop thinking you are better than these people! We are all victims of the same  world-dominating machine, suffering different mutations of the same wound of separation. Something hurts in there. We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, intimate connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the kingdom of childhood, and so much more. The acute trauma endured by the incarcerated, the abused, the raped, the trafficked, the starved, the murdered, and the dispossessed does not exempt the perpetrators. They feel it in mirror image, adding damage to their souls atop the damage that compels them to violence. Thus it is that suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. military. Thus it is that addiction is rampant among the police. Thus it is that depression is epidemic in the upper middle class. We are all in this together.

Something hurts in there. Can you feel it? We are all in this together. One earth, one tribe, one people.

We have entertained teachings like these long enough in our spiritual retreats, meditations, and prayers. Can we take them now into the political world and create an eye of compassion inside the political hate vortex? It is time to do it, time to up our game. It is time to stop feeding hate. Next time you post online, check your words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate: dehumanization, snark, belittling, derision…some invitation to us versus them. Notice how it feels kind of good to do that, like getting a fix. And notice what hurts underneath, and how it doesn’t feel good, not really. Maybe it is time to stop.

This does not mean to withdraw from political conversation, but to rewrite its vocabulary. It is to speak hard truths with love. It is to offer acute political analysis that doesn’t carry the implicit message of “Aren’t those people horrible?” Such analysis is rare. Usually, those evangelizing compassion do not write about politics, and sometimes they veer into passivity. We need to confront an unjust, ecocidal system. Each time we do we will receive an invitation to give in to the dark side and hate “the deplorables.” We must not shy away from those confrontations. Instead, we can engage them empowered by the inner mantra that my friend Pancho Ramos-Stierle uses in confrontations with his jailers: “Brother, your soul is too beautiful to be doing this work.” If we can stare hate in the face and never waver from that knowledge, we will access inexhaustible tools of creative engagement, and hold a compelling invitation to the haters to fulfill their beauty.

Then I, Brad Blanton, wrote:

Dear Tom and Charles, Thank you so much. I love you both with all my heart. And that is the best title (The Trump doorway to an empathic new story) for this whole dilemma/opportunity anyone has me up with yet. It is the essence of the context within which our enemy becomes our ally simply because we get that at a very deep level he is our ally and share it with the world. Every time I read this I like it more, Charles. I will see that the people of the world get it. Sending it to 8000 of my closest friends. Love, Brad

Charles Eisenstein wrote:

“Hey there Brad, hi Tom — wow thanks for all of your kind words!”

Then I (Brad) remembered, what Tom said, that we are working on a brand new concept of non-violence…

“The development, training, and evolution of nonviolent theory and practice far beyond what even Gandhi and King imagined, an undertaking whose scope I can only glimpse at this time but whose necessity seems quite real to me and (2) the expansion of empathy into what I call Big Empathy and committed efforts to embed it into new forms of politics, economics, and culture.”

And I wrote more…

Dear Charles, This powerful statement, even though I agree with it completely, is still not good enough: ” We’ve got to stop acting out hate.”

What is true is that all moral shoulds, stringently advocated or enforced (all of them, including “stop acting out hate…”) are potentially poisonous and can lead to more hate. To quote a noted psycho therapist and poet (me): “When you experience an experience it comes and goes. When you resist an experience it persists and grows.” This is particularly true with fear and anger, sometimes there at the same time, which we Texans call “The Fanger”. If giving each other the fanger is as far as we get, you would think not much empathy shows up. But surprisingly, if you can stick with it, face to face, and don’t run away, a transformation often occurs!

You get over hate through processing anger related to the hated person in smaller bites. When that process dissipates the anger elements, causing the hate to decrease, recede and then eventually disappear, a process of transformation has occurred. Then empathy can show up. (Not be brought to mind. Show up.) Then the experience of anger has been felt through. Not figured out…that comes later. It is possible for “Fuck You!” to become “Bless Your Heart!”

Going to war is stupid, a waste of life and magnifier of hate and a few dozen other shitty things. However, just because we can’t solve anything by going to war does not mean that getting God damned mad and cussing and hollering and maybe even destroying property or shouting and screaming and maybe throwing shit (shitting in your hand and throwing it at someone on purpose like our chimp brothers and sisters) should be outlawed or tabooed. So I say we have to change how we act from hate…a minor but important distinction.

First let’s drop the idea of non-violent communication. There is violence. And there is communication. And let’s admit that there are even important gradations of expressions that sound violent but in fact are not, that sometimes allow you to feel your way through things instead of thinking your way around things and lying constantly about being pissed off.

When the Secret Service questioned me (about ten years ago) to see if I was a threat to the life of the president (George Dubya Bush) their last question was: “If you were in a room with the president, would you do him harm?” I said, “No.” Then, as an afterthought, “…not unless he came after me…then I would take pleasure in kicking his God damned ass.” The two SS guys looked at each other and didn’t know which box to check. One of them said, “O.K. We’re going to go outside to our car and talk. We will either come back in here and get you and take you with us, or we will go away.” They went out and sat in their car for about 20 minutes and then left.

I keep picking on you, Charles and Tom, about this process issue, because I know that forgiveness does not occur by thinking. Without anger being acknowledged and processed, thoughtfulness becomes a pretense, a lie, and ideal in the place of something real.

I am in favor of political incorrectness just like Trump’s supporters are. I identify with them. But my smart political incorrectness is better than, and much superior to, their stupid political incorrectness, and makes me want to significantly abuse them for their God damned ignorant shit-for-brains stupidity. I am just the same kind of self righteous prick and cunt they are. But we don’t get to empathy for each other just by thinking we ought to. I have to engage the enemy as enemy, and then engage them further with what comes up next until we have, both of us, closed the distance between us with honest sharing, full self expression, and contact.

If we engage, just short of physical violence, something might happen. After a while, I might feel sorry for them. Then after a little while longer, sorry for all of us. In other words I would engage in a process, called forgiveness, which is a process, a series of changes over time, changes in sensations in my body and then, following the sensations, the thoughts in my mind. Then I can talk to my frienemy about our mutual suffering.

Forgiveness is harder but better than impotent moralism or overly oppressive moralism, because both of those maintain or expand hate rather than reduce it or transform it. We need to press harder and then let up more. 

Trump is a real challenge. Having empathy for one who has no empathy and is as fucking stupid as he is, is a hell of a challenge. But being careful to not be too righteous or angry won’t do the trick…anymore than condemning him and stopping at that. Living in Trumpland, if we survive, is, and will continue to be educational, for even the most ignorant and criminal amongst us (Republicans). But for now I am tired of writing about the sonofabitch. Fuck him. (Just kidding. He is bringing the world together, just not the way he intended. I’ll be nice now.)

Lucky for us, transforming anger to empathy starts with the very satisfying task of calling an asshole an asshole, then being specific about what he said or did that you think is assholish…and then saying, “…and I will NEVER forgive you for that!” That starts the transformation called forgiveness. The conversation about our deeply shared pain is then just around the corner.

Charles responded (to a slightly earlier version of the above that I sent him):

“…basically I think you might be misunderstanding my point of view a little bit. I’m not anti-anger. In any circumstance whether personal or political, I think that pretending not to be angry when actually angry, is much worse than expressing anger. What I’m saying is that most of our hate, as well as the direction of our anger, comes from a false understanding. People are not in reality when they dehumanize others. I’m asking people to be in reality. From there, anger might still arise, conflict, the playing out of long-suppressed energies. I think what is likely from a place of empathy is sometimes a very insistent confrontation of the opponent that says, “I insist that you hear me! I insist that you see what is happening. I will not back down and I will not shut up.” This is an expression of anger that is not based on dehumanization. There’s more but that’s the gist of it for now.”

It’s me, Brad, again. I think what Charles said above is great. Just one caveat…which is that you cannot just “be in” reality without a little processing. You have to get there from mindfuck land. And a little “temporary dehumanization” along the way may be permitted to let the steam off just short of murder.

Charles reminds me of what Mark Twain said, “I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no color prejudices or caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being–that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.”

It is empathy that allows the three of us to actually have this conversation and share it with others. And it appears that we are evolving at least two kinds of degrees or sizes of kinds of empathy—one from identity with our fellow human sufferers from human ignorance and cruelty and desperation—and then a second kind of empathy which is the result of a process through which we transform hatred experientially into love.

Tom’s concept of “Big Empathy” I imagine is like John Prine’s wonderful song “Father Forgive Us.” “Father forgive us for what we must do. You forgive us and we’ll forgive you. We’ll forgive each other ‘til we both turn blue. Then we’ll whistle and go fishin’ in heaven.”

Love, Brad