Following are criticisms about drafts of Americans for Humanity: A Declaration that were expressed during the drafting and my replies (in italics):
Thank you for your work on this vision. It’s not that I don’t share much of what this document states however it does not mention the reality of the giant squid stranglehold racial/economic/social institutions have on humanity’s conscious and unconscious actions. The only way to move from the everyday to day here and to arrive there [your vision] is by facing what keeps us apart, recognizing and understanding our privileges, listening to those with less, ... ack I don’t have time for this now. We have to do the work of disengaging from either/or divisive thinking/living/being and to begin to recognize our common humanity. I like to think of us as humans being with all life. Human chauvinism is another way to distance from the spark of balance with all living things.
Who could be opposed ? ... (practically) no one ... and, so what !
Who would agree ? ... (practically) every one ... and, so what !
The result of agreement is that nothing happens ... or needs to happen ... and, so what?
Agreement should mean tacit consent to be a part of fighting for ... or against something where change is called for.
All change seems to require struggle ... but in the pledge for universal humanity, there is no hint or expectation of struggle.
One additional observation and concern is the title: "Americans for Humanity"
America is a continent made up of dozens of sovereign countries. For the U.S., or U.S. activist to lay claim to the entirety of America is the height of arrogance, selfishness, belligerence, hypocrisy, and the put down of all other peoples and countries of the Americas.
Perhaps a more respectful title might be "U.S. People for Humanity," or, simply "People for Humanity," or, alternatively, "The Pledge (or Mission) for Universal Humanity"
improve their emotional reactions
engage in honest self-examination
support each other with their personal and spiritual growth
avoid oppressive or disrespectful behavior
supports members who want to form small teams that share meals, strengthen connections, provide mutual support, and plan other activities”
Are you? If so, which one or ones do?
As for “struggle,” it seems to me that these points explicitly affirm struggle:
the growth of a popular movement
pressures Washington to implement policies supported by strong majorities of the American people
engages in nonviolent civil disobedience and consumer boycotts when needed
Concerning the use of “Americans,” when I lived in Mexico for extended periods I noticed that Mexicans routinely referred to USA residents as “Americans.” I never once heard them refer to North and South America as “America,” which is technically correct. Though some activists have made your point, it seems paternalistic for us to allegedly protect people from language they accept.
Also, I see the need for a “superordinate” identify that could unite USA residents and help us I’m sorry to hear about those family/personal issues. Hang in there! Hope to be in touch later.overcome our tribal divisions. I think a healthy patriotism is possible -- in every country -- so that strong nation-states can better control unbridled global corporations and financial institutions. As the declaration states, we can “honor our nation’s gains, criticize its failures, and help build a more perfect union.” We need a word or phrase that can refer to “the inhabitants of the USA.” Always using that long phrase, or “US people” does not seem feasible, especially in the title.
NOTES: In “Arguments for ‘Americans for Humanity: A Declaration,” I wrote:
Most countries identify themselves and their residents with one word. The United States of America, however, has four words. So most people throughout the world refer to us as “Americans.” No disrespect toward those who live in other North and South American countries is intended by the use of that word here. By strengthening a deep sense of ourselves as both Americans and human beings, we can help overcome divisions that undermine the unity that is needed for effective, sustained, nationwide political action.
Fundamentalists regularly inflate the importance of particular words. They turn them into icons. It's also possible to turn them into anti-icons. Anyway, that's my take. I'd be interested in your further thoughts, and will include your comment in the Log.
I have one question or concern, and that is the title "Americans for Humanity." I am concerned that it sounds kind of "patriotic," or nationalistic, I may be overly concerned about that, but using the term "Americans" for some people connotes "white Americans" or seems to exclude immigrants who are not American citizens yet. So I am not suggesting that you change the title at this point, just mentioning this as something that may possibly put some people off. Thanks for putting this together, it is an ambitious project and I really support it.
Your concerns are valid. However, I do affirm a healthy, self-critical patriotism. It seems strong nation-states are an important counter to the ravages of uncontrolled global capitalism. So I added “As an inhabitant of the United States of America,” and “Honor America’s achievements, criticize its failures, and help realize its ideals.”