Incredible Room for Your Idealism

In my 5-1/2 decades on the earth I’ve never seen ideas-ideals sweep so fast across this country. And it forces me to ask: What “reality” am I tolerating that could well change…and quickly?  Have you noticed what’s going on?

1.  We went from the pretty bizarre political compromise of “don’t ask – don’t tell” — and “progressives” like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama opposing gay marriage — to a swift and seemingly irrevocable move towards accepting gay marriage and gay rights.

2.  Legalization of pot seems to have begun a similarly sweeping change in the winds, with recent referenda in Colorado and Washington, and in many cities, some quite conservative.

3.  We have an African man’s son as President.  And last week Detroit, which is 82.7% African-American and only 10% white, elected a white man mayor — a prospect that seemed as implausible as a Palestinian getting elected mayor of Jerusalem.

4.  Despite the Tea Party’s resistance, it seems clear we will have “immigration reform” soon.  Look up “shifting opinions” on immigration and you will see a whole host of names you would never have expected to see there five years ago: Christie, Ryan, Rubio, Boehner, etc.

5.  We’ve realized that bullies need to be stopped, even when they are football players “teasing” other football players in a locker-room culture.  And we’ve concluded that smashing craniums -even with helmets on – isn’t a real smart idea.

Although these are largely progressive changes, progressives themselves (ourselves) hid from these issues for many years. And though people can certainly dispute the wisdom of these shifts, what’s fairly indisputable is that there is a sense of common sense or fairness about all of them. Most of us know that gays are like us, race does not control us, pot is in many respects “better” than alcohol, and most Mexican immigrants are — like us — really decent folks, striving to become part of this country -just as many of our parents, grandparents or ancestors did.

So, it strikes me as a time for courage about common sense.

I’m thinking: I need to be rethinking!  Adopt what Zen calls a beginner’s mind.   What have I/we tolerated that really makes no common sense:  People working 90 hours a week?  Buying water in throwaway bottles? Fighting nukes in Iran while we manufacture and buy millions and millions of weapons for our own homes and streets? I’m not asking you to agree with me on any one of these issues, but I am saying that if there are major common sense issues that you have tolerated, because you didn’t think things could change, maybe that idea needs to come to terms with these new realities about change, in order for you, to

Lead with your best self,








  • What about our incarcerating more young black men each year than graduate from high school, perpetuating the “school-to-prison” track? In Michigan, the so-called “corrections” budget far exceeds the state’s public school budget. Where is the sense in that?

    • Vince,
      One of the most absurd social-political contradictions.
      So, where do we begin? Perhaps by saying this is a human rights issue. If these were our boys and girls would we see it differently?

      • Dan:

        May I recommend to your readers the Citizens’ Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending ( for making some positive policy recommendations?

        Also here in Grand Rapids, the coalition known as the Micah Center, which meets at Hope Reformed Church (Kalamazoo Ave at Burton St SE) is one of the sponsors of a bus ride for a day of citizen lobbying in Lansing tomorrow (Wednesday, 14 November). The bus leaves Hope Reformed at 8:00 a.m. to head to Lansing for the rally and advocacy visits. There is still room on that bus. If you are interested in reserving a spot (the trip is free), please send an email to

        Dan, I hope this blatant promotion does not violate your blog-and-response rules. We need to be able to talk among each other. Your blog is an important avenue of communication, I think.

  • Water in throw away bottles but then you can return pop bottles and even these new flavored water bottles as well. That is ridiculous. And then paying for water is more ridiculous.
    And I could not stand by and watch someone be bullied because of the Hell my son and I are going through because of a teenage bully bullied my 6 year old, hitting him as well. Then this state, says that I am unstable for worrying about my son, that my house might not be fit for my son to live because I worry about him. That too is ridiculous and insane. I did tried to stop my ex from beating up this old man, I didn’t succeed but I tried. Everyone else standing there didn’t do anything and I was trying to get them to help. He threw him against the building and against a van and was kicking him when he was down. The old man ended up hospitalized and the cops never arrested my ex because he is black and the old man is white. It is on security camera but the police won’t look at it. Talk about reverse discrimination. My ex is always trying to bully people when he be drunk. Bullies needs to be taken to an island for they can beat up on each other.
    Dan, do you ever think about, where will you go when you die? A preacher once said in one church I attended that, “a lot of people who goes to church aren’t even going to Heaven when they die, like they think they are”. Dan, I know that you love your kids, so, if you knew that you might not go to Heaven if you punish the ones who hurt your children or the ones who lied on you in court to keep your children away from you, would you still go after the people even though you might not go to Heaven? You wanted your own child to love and so you planned on your children before having them and then your children can’t be with you based on lies from the state (which is for the state could get more money from the federal government,) would you risk all eternity to make the criminals pay? Just a question.

    And Detroit probably need a female mayor to turn that city around.

  • Great post, Dan!

    How about one-way transparency? The government assumes the right to spy on us, gathering meta data on who we talk to, and when, and what we talk about, and even where we (or our cell phones) go, but if citizens want to find out what the government’s doing, we have to file a FOIA request, pay a fee, and wait. Seems like all this should be a matter of public record, fully accessible. Does the government label thousands of documents “Secret” and “Top Secret” because they fear our neighbors on this big blue marble and suppose that ordinary Americans are aligned with external enemies who would hurt us? But maybe there are no secrets any more and maybe we could show some moral leadership. Maybe this lack of transparency is the reason why some very conservative Americans fear the government. In any case, it seems to be to be a very sad state of affairs that we would do well to decide that this is not right any more… if it ever was.

  • Dan, we were clearly on a similar wavelength in the past few days! I saw the movie “12 Years a Slave” this past weekend, which got me thinking about the things we humans tolerate in the face of “common sense” that can show us a better way.

    After the movie, what’s on my mind in my role as a leadership “trainer” is teaching about good leadership and tolerating unacceptable leadership behaviors because I’m “just a trainer.” JUST a trainer! That’s crazy thinking on my part. I’ve got some ideas about how to change it so it’s not “just” a conversation in class or coaching, but right now I’m in the midst of thinking through my role.

  • Dan, thank you so much for this post! We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of Newtown and I feel discouraged that we haven’t made more progress on gun violence prevention. I’ve been involved with Moms Demand Action, a group that, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is trying to change the culture and the laws. It feels great to reflect on cases where that kind of change HAS happened. Hopefully we can do it, too!

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