I share my response to Janet and her letter is further below. Andrius
Thank you for your personal letter, your much needed input. You know
how many times I have asked for it and how I have tried to arrange to
speak with you before every major decision I have made. I have had to
make them without you and yet even with you in mind. I look forward to
talking and to many more letters such as you write below. It is indeed
what I have asked and wished from you since we started, which is to
avail us the best of what you have, which I think is your own ongoing
personal growth, and that includes especially not what you know, but
what you don't know, yet want to know.
The structure of the Pyramid of Peace is very streamlined and I think
there is nothing more than there needs to be to achieve my own goal
here, which is to stop any inclination to genocide. Therefore your
critique is fundamental. I have tried to imagine what alternative
culture you might have in mind, and I look forward to learning your vision.
Your own deepest value "holistic helping" is, I venture, at the heart of
the issue. I share what I have been discovering. I don't quite
understand what you mean by "holistic helping", but I imagine that it
says that for the truly difficult challenges life, there is no one
dimension that is key. They are all key: personal and public,
individual and communal, friend and stranger and enemy, spiritual and
material, for free and for pay, local and global, strength and weakness,
female and male, old and young, natural and technological, and so on. I
venture this is the case whenever we are nurturing the good. I imagine
that the HIV/AIDS challenge is one where this is especially true, where
the organism - individual, societal - is weak and needs the full scope
of love in order to grow strong or simply hold on. This all takes long
work as I am sure you have found and as I have shown in ten years of
work to nurture our Minciu Sodas laboratory.
I jumped into the Kenyan crisis on the morning of January 2, 2008 and
went straight into operation mode. I dealt with an immediate crisis
which is how to apply our laboratory's capability to help our
participants and all who they might help further. This generated the
solution of working primarily with a single contact person in Kenya,
Dennis Kimambo, who then distributed resources hierarchically. Even
early on I was making sure that we were helping those who were outside
of our network yet in even greater danger, such as Amos Obwanga in
Eldoret, who we learned of from Samwel Kongere. By January 6, 2008 we
had helped all of our own participants, and the country was calming
down, but I noticed the strange fact that our Kenyans were reporting
that they expected food shortages. It didn't make sense that there
should be less food, unless something was keeping it from coming, which
could very well be the road blocks that the Kalenjin youth were
organizing. I was in a special position to see the potential crisis
where the lack of food could lead to uncontrolled violence which could
lead to genocide. I therefore personally mustered several thousand
dollars, for example, calling up Jeff Buderer, Joe Damal, Edward Damal
to whom I owed money, and asking if they could dedicate all or part to
this crisis, and they agreed. I set into action a plan to reach out to
the "benevolent Kalenjin". At the heart of this plan was embracing
one's enemy and reaching out hierarchically to link up everybody to
distribute resources to encourage such outreach, where people validate
their allegiance by allowing us to publicly post their telephones, and
reaching out to others to do likewise. This is the Pyramid of Peace.
In this sense, the Pyramid of Peace is an organic solution to an
immediate problem. I would say in important ways it's unholistic, and
yet I hope is compatible with a holistic approach. The Pyramid of Peace
is a leadership structure that focuses resources on "the root problem".
As a leader, I have wrenching conversations, for example, with Ron
Odhiambo to explain that I am very sad that his he may lose his house,
but that I intend to pour all of our resources into Naivasha, because
that is where the root problem is at that particular time. As it turned
out, this was a successful decision, as not only did Rachel's team free
that road, but so many other problems were solved, perhaps millions of
dollars worth, aiding thousands of people. As a leader, I took
responsibility, I chose the leaders, I suggested the strategy, I
distributed the resources.
I have done this in a vacuum of leadership. In our group, I am the one
who is bold enough, sure enough, able enough, and loved enough to take
upon myself the endeavor of rooting out any cause for genocide. In all
of Kenya, the Pyramid of Peace is one of the very few groups directly
working on this, and it's very likely that we are the most effective.
In saying so, I include the government and the opposition. We are
effective because we combine the Minciu Sodas culture that honors every
individual, the network of people who have learned to work together in
terms of their values, and my own willingness to apply vigorously all of
the power that I am given.
I think of holistic challenge as not having any single root problem.
Dealing with the aftermath of a genocide is a holistic challenge. But
preventing the instigation of a genocide may very well be an unholistic
challenge. As I study the violence in Kenya, I see that most of it dies
down naturally, yet in the weakness of the situation there is a
methodical instigation of violence that is calculated to foment
genocide. The weakness is holistic, but the instigators are not, and
though they may be of various tribes, they certainly play off each
other. I am fighting the instigators and that is the point of the
Pyramid of Peace.
I think that a holistic approach is greater than and includes this
unholistic approach. Dealing with a root cause, rooting out a
particular bad is one and only one dimension of fostering the good. I
have structured the Pyramid of Peace to be harmonious with the greater
holistic effort. Janet, all of the money that you and others have given
has gone specifically as you have instructed, but any free money - at
crucial times, from my own pocket - has gone towards the unholistic
priority, whatever the problem of the day be. That is why we are so
effective, we are a couple of moves ahead of any institution, and that
is why I have to change our focus every two or three days. This is the
sense in which I am the Commander and have been since the start of our
operations. I am the one who decides where we need focus. There are
many other projects and our structure serves them so that particular
resources can match particular needs. Indeed, I have structured the
Pyramid of Peace so that the various projects don't have to go through
the central channel, but can work directly with any point of the
pyramid. I generally inform people first of the possibility they have
through Mamamikes.com to donate directly, and only then do I say that
they can donate through the Pyramid of Peace. Certainly, others are
free to start their own pyramids, and I encourage us. As for myself, I
consult with every leader on-the-ground as to our operations and double
check with them on any idea I may have. I also honor the projects of
every online participant. In the end, the Pyramid of Peace, just like
Minciu Sodas, is my project, and I make my decisions, and no decision is
made unless I allow it. Yet I hand over the many decisions. This is
the structure of the Pyramid of Peace: I have the authority, and I
portion it wholeheartedly, and I encourage them likewise. This is the
reason why we enjoy so many accounts of great leadership from all of
Kenya, enough for an epic poem.
I operated without challenge through all of January. Our leaders met in
Nairobi on February 1, 2008. I knew that taken together they have the
control over our operations and they could take that control. I have no
control and desire none. Janet, the day before I had hoped to speak
with you, because I wondered, what do I want? What happens now? So I
wrote my thoughts about my role, how I understood myself, what my
contribution is here, perhaps a very special one. And I figured out
that my role and that of Minciu Sodas is to serve them as independent
thinkers. And I told myself, let them figure out what they want to do,
let them set the tone and the pace and the direction. I was surprised
when I got the call at the end of their meeting, and I called them right
back. I had asked them to make a plan for February and they did. And
they wanted my backing, my input, and perhaps more, my approval. I gave
support to their plan, which is a good one. And then I asked regarding
my participation. Do they want me to lead? They said yes. May I be the
Commander? And they laughed, but they agreed. They know exactly what I
am talking about, the sense in which I am the Commander. I am the one
who functions when there is a crisis, who comes up with the immediate
solution, who suggests a creative possibility when there seem to be
none, who makes sure that nobody will be forgotten, who is fair in
distribution, who insists that they take care of themselves and each
other, who remembers the point of the struggle, who halts one priority
and starts up another, who understands the small risks to take and the
big risks to avoid, who knows the real enemy and can hunt them down and
embrace them, who applies power as far and wide and high and deep as it
can reach, who will hold accountable everyone who is, who will stop when
there is nothing to do, who is willing to look ridiculous, who is not
afraid to ask for help, who will give to others rather than take for
themselves, who will give of themselves when there is nothing else to
give, who will stay with a person even as they meet their death, who
asks a person what they truly want to do, and then commands them to do
it, not for themselves but for all.
Straightaway I appointed three Commanders: Dennis Kimambo +254 722 388
275, Kennedy Owino +254 723 568 251, Rachel Wambui Kungu +254 721 626
389 and we agreed that Rachel would serve as Commander-of-Operations for
one week. I was very happy because this was the first chance I had to
delegate the great responsibility I had taken.
Dennis, Kennedy and Rachel are the three people who I know that have
proven their ability to respond to the needs of all of Kenya, not just
lead a particular mission. This is the very real sense in which they
are Commanders. They are the three people and I with them who hold the
real power of the Pyramid of Peace. We are the ones by which the
Pyramid of Peace functions. They are free to walk away from me. I am
free to walk away from them. If they want me to participate as I have,
with all my heart and mind and soul and body, if they want me to apply
myself completely, then I can do that if they give me all authority. In
this sense, I am the Commander-in-Chief. They have given all that I ask
for, and I have given back in return all they might want and more. When
they don't want me to, they will walk away, and I will have no command.
I have asked for this acknowledgement of my leadership for your sake and
for all, so we understand the true situation. And that may quickly change.
At the heart of the matter is that very few people are able to lead the
operations that we have conducted. Among these people I have earned a
special regard. At some point we hope that I will be unnecessary.
Currently, my role as Commander-in-Chief is helpful in the following ways:
* I appoint a Commander-of-Operations and therefore there is a clear leader.
* I rotate them and therefore the power stays fluid, all have a chance
to develop, and conflict is minimized.
* I have set up the existing structure for the distribution of funds,
and this does not have to be redone.
* My integrity is passing test after test, as it must.
* I have worked out a culture through our Minciu Sodas laboratory that
fosters people's constructive behavior. I have designed the Pyramid of
Peace accordingly and can pursue this further if I have the authority.
* I am able to organize online support.
* I am able to pursue our operations as a global issue, not a Kenyan issue.
* I am able to develop a governance structure, as I am, that clarifies
responsibility rather than obscure it, and grants authority rather than
* I may be able to organize a flow of resources.
* I am able to link our efforts with other issues such as the COMMUNIA
network for the Public Domain.
* I am able to focus on the immediate "root cause", whatever it may be,
and not get lost in the many longer term projects that suggest themselves.
* I have created this role and performed delightfully, and who else can?
* I am one more person who can help, and this is the way that I wish to.
My tenure as Commander-in-Chief depends on these reasons. My authority
depends on those few people who are able to command our operations.
Certainly, I encourage many peacemaking forums, as there already are in
Kenya, and certainly there should be more. I created the Pyramid of
Peace to focus resources on the immediate root cause of genocide,
whatever that may be.
Janet, Pamela, Agnese, Ricardo, you have contributed from your heart the
large share of donations. I think this is from your savings or your
income. I have likewise contributed thousands of dollars, but they are
not from savings, they are from loans. I have had to justify my
expenses. Some of it is my obligations to care for people who have
worked for me. Some of it is for building good will in a land where I
am organizing people. Most of it is investing in the building of the
Minciu Sodas laboratory's assets and business opportunities. I have
developed millions of dollars worth of assets. We have accomplished
perhaps the hardest part of what I proposed for the Knight News
Challenge, which was to organize 1,000 Kenyans to provide news, and now
that seems straightforward. And if my business venture fails here, then
at least I have helped prevent genocide, and it is the business world
I have already found one business opportunity, which is that Greg Wolff
of Unamesa Association would organize an extra 10% of the money we raise
to pay for our leaders to self-audit ourselves. This is a very good
idea because I should NOT take any part of the money we get, it is
important that 100% and more go to the emergency, which is of a
different category than my personal livelihood. I have worked on this
self-audit, but have not yet completed the wesbiste, I think for two
reasons. None of our current donors has asked for much accounting yet
because they see our open work and our clear results. A deeper reason
is that I only ask for money for the Pyramid of Peace when there is a
pressing need to address genocide. I don't ask money for our many
projects because I think they are of a different character. A
scholarship for Laura to attend NYIT and a camera for Tom Ochuka and
even food for refugees each need their own funders and aren't the same
as the sudden need to engage roadblockers or send airtime to avert
violence. The first are morally optional and the second are morally
not. The Pyramid of Peace are requests for help that can't be postponed
or ignored. What this means, however, is that I can't and don't ask for
such help in the same way when the violence subsides. This means that
I'm doing job by NOT asking for help if the need is diminished.
Therefore it is wrong to tie my own needs or those of our leaders to the
amount of aid that we distribute. Our good work is not the amount of
aid that we distribute but rather the moral exactness in our request for
it and application of it.
I have therefore concluded that it would be correct to have an outside
source to fund my work and that of our Kenyan leaders. I should not
have to care about any of my needs, which include paying back roughly
100,000 USD of debt. Indeed, I may be the person who prevents a
genocide. I should therefore be paid handsomely, no less than 5,000 USD
per month, but certainly if that money is coming from a corporation or
other institution. Furthermore, if I am paid handsomely, then that
makes it all the more reasonable to pay our Kenyan leaders handsomely as
well. They agreed to my rate and to a rate of 1,000 USD per month for
themselves. Asking us to work for less would be callous and stupid and
insulting. We're working for free as it is. Certainly, we welcome
donations of all kinds, but if somebody believes our work and wants to
be associated as an exclusive sponsor for anyone of us, then they should
generous about it. I think this is a very correct approach and I would
prefer that we allow each of our leaders to make their own decisions as
to who they might take sponsorship from, so long as it is public and
there are no terms or contracts. I will be aggressive in seeking
sponsorship and other sources of income for our leaders. If our leaders
are secure in their income, then we are free to work to raise for others
and ensure that 100% goes to Kenyans, and I would like to raise 100,000
USD in February for that.
I expect the next challenge to my leadership to come at the meeting of
the Pyramid of Peace in Kenya. By then I will propose a governance
structure. I want more of us to be able to prove ourselves as
Commanders. I have created the title of Peacemaker for all who have
proven they can lead a mission. All are welcome to acknowledge others
as Peacemakers and document their stories which we will post at the
Pyramid of Peace website. I think the governance structure that I
propose will explain how one becomes a Commander and how and why they
select a Commander-in-Chief and how they organize their authority. We
are organizing local leaders, I think that they should serve at the
request of the Commander-of-Operations, so that rotations can be made.
I expect also there will be a body of Peacemakers which is more
democratic and which is the organ that frames the overall message of the
Pyramid of Peace, much as with the current press release, and decides
the longer term priorities. Certainly, we would benefit from a body of
supporters or elders from the online world, and they are outside any
command structure. This is not a structure of equals, as in these
operations we are not equal in what we are investing and what we must
do, yet it will be a structure in which all can be equal. And the
structure will keep evolving.
Janet, you write "I am becoming rather concerned to bring more of my own
network of contacts into such a scenario and structure." This is the
essence of all the structure of the Pyramid of Peace. You use your
authority to decide who you will bring in or not. I do likewise. Yet I
turn no one away or keep them from going. I have set up the Pyramid of
Peace so that it is transparent and each Kenyan can be an authority and
each can be invited into other structures and even leave this one along
with all who follow their authority.
Janet, I propose that you or your colleagues at Holistic Helping and/or
Act Alive organize an additional structure that would reflect your
culture. I think that then our two structures will find a way to work
together and even to mesh into one. We will have the best of both. I
look forward to speaking with you.
My main concern in my work is to be able to focus my energies on
whatever is the immediate root cause of genocide, because I don't see
anybody else with such intense focus. I also want authority to shape
the culture of the structure that results as part of my vision for a
culture of independent thinkers. I therefore wish to serve as
Commander-in-Chief so that my role is understood. I have been confirmed
by the three people capable of leading the operations of the Pyramid of
Peace. I will stick with them if they stick with me.
My position is also that our authority is beyond that of the states, the
institutions, the corporations, even as we respect them, but we are not
under them, as their dysfunction is the cause for our being the Pyramid
of Peace. In this sense, our cause is not limited to Kenya or to anything.
Should I not be needed or desired as Commander-in-Chief, then I end my
service. I will hand over my functions to others and focus on my own
needs to make a living. I have made my contribution.
Thank you to all in Kenya and online who have brought us peace even as
we include others in our peace.
Janet, Thank you for your love and concern today and these many years.
Pyramid of Peace, Commander-in-Chief, http://www.pyramidofpeace.net
Minciu Sodas, Direktorius, http://www.ms.lt
+370 699 30003, Vilnius, Lithuania
Janet Feldman wrote:
> PS...which I put as an ante-script here :)): Andrius has responded to
> a shorter but similar message at Global Villages, and thanks for that!
> I hope we can talk M or T, and share-learn-dream together!
> Dear All,
> This note is about several things, but it started out as a
> congratulatory letter to Ron as a "peacemaker", so I will say that
> first. I am so glad that you are here with us! Ron has shared a number
> of remarkable stories with us during the period I have known him,
> after being introduced by Dennis in 2005. The title "Peacemaker" is
> wonderful and very appropriate.
> We are all peacemakers, and that creates a level playing field which
> unites us. The "commander" language has strong military connotation to
> me as well. We need to "encourage", "promote", "support", even
> "exhort" one another at times. But commanding someone to me is not
> necessarily the language of love, at least not as I know and cherish
> it as an individual and as a woman.
> Of course, decisions also need to be made quickly, so some flexibility
> in a structure built more on consensus or a larger decision-making
> role for a wider number sometimes needs to operate in tandem with a
> smaller group who can move quickly to "take charge" when things need
> to be immediately.
> The pyramid of peace is a delightful wordplay, and--in terms of
> acrobatics--it serves a purpose. But in my view that symbol should not
> be taken in a literal way to denote our working structure.
> I do not think it will serve our mutual endeavors--let alone our
> "independent thinking" and development--to work within a structure
> which is "corporate", the military being one such, where there is a
> "commander-in-chief" at the apex, and everyone else in positions
> within a hierarchy.
> The decision-making process is different in top-down organizations
> than it is in organizations where there is more of a egalitarian
> structure. The army, and corporations, are top-down structures,
> except in rare cases where corporation owners decide they do not want
> to replicate the status quo.
> This is why I think we need to be careful, and to scrutinize the
> approach we are taking to corporations. For example, in the case of
> Microsoft, because some of our members feel so strongly about "open
> source"--and see Microsoft as working in ways antithetical to that
> concept--I think we should discuss whether we want to approach them
> for a grant.
> We may decide in the end that our peace work is of paramount
> consideration (and that "any port in a storm" will do). But we also
> may decide that we will forego Microsoft in favor of other donors who
> do not raise such concerns among members.
> I also think that--despite the fact that it does take a good deal of
> money to live in a developed country--it would be more fitting and
> also more attractive to potential donors, if $5000 is given to our
> extensive network in Kenya and/or Africa (and perhaps elsewhere in the
> world) per month, with $1000 going to MS.
> Very few donors will contribute a large sum for administration, esp to
> an organization located in the developed world. It's possible there
> are opportunities in the EU in this regard, but I'm pretty sure most
> donors would prefer to see their funding go to the grassroots in
> developing countries.
> And this is the fair thing to do as well, in my view, because it is on
> the ground that such a huge number of activities will be taking place.
> It is better for money to go directly to where it is needed, and for
> those receiving it at the grassroots to decide what to do with it,
> albeit with some input as they desire or need from the rest of us.
> Therefore, these issues do need to be discussed at some point, in my
> view as soon as the immediate crisis has passed.
> "Peace" in the true sense of the word can in the overall scheme of
> things be better kept by peacemakers. Commanders win wars, but they
> generally never win the peace, because you cannot command someone to
> stop hating or fearing, you cannot command someone to love their
> neighbor as themselves. That must come from within, and be modelled by
> those who are peacemakers.
> I can think of one exception: Dwight Eisenhower, an American WW2
> general, who became a president...and then coined the famous warning
> about the encroachment in American life of the " miltary-industrial
> complex", as he called it.
> I am becoming rather concerned to bring more of my own network of
> contacts into such a scenario and structure. I
> do not expect to "command" anyone. I do expect to work with my
> friends, colleagues, and loved ones--including those I have myself
> brought into this work at Minciu Sodas, such as Rachel, Dennis,
> Collins, Ron, Tom, Ronald--in a structure and process where there is
> mutual decision-making and working together in as much of an
> egalitarian way as possible, again with the understanding that
> immediate needs do require immediate attention and decision-making.
> Even there, I believe we can work to develop something which includes
> more of us in a structure of "support", not "commands". Being a CEO
> means being a "chief"; a chief does not have to be a "commander" to be
> effective, and to guide or lead the work which is being done. A
> president in a democratic society is voted in by a majority, a large
> number of citizens, before that title is conferred.
> Andrius, as founder/director of Minciu Sodas, we all--if we want to be
> part of this amazing POP project, and MS-related work and activities
> in general--need to give you respect and support, let alone some
> "deference" with regard to your leadership role within your own
> organization. I would ask for that in the orgs I have founded and
> which I direct.
> As a founder/director, too, I do understand where you are coming from
> in some regards, esp in terms of legal and financial commitments. But
> there are many decisions and activities which include partners,
> friends, and colleagues who are or should be working together in an
> egalitarian way.
> In my own work, I have built something--through
> commitment-time-energy-caring--which has attracted many friends and
> colleagues (ActALIVE and KAIPPG International). We have together built
> something which has helped others too, sometimes in crucial or
> important ways. The current POP endeavor has in itself benefitted.
> While I would not expect to be a "co-commander" in return for what I
> am bringing here--in part because I have concerns about that way of
> framing things anyway, and in part because you are the director of
> Minciu Sodas--I do hope that myself and all others who have
> contributed to our collective work will have a voice in our group
> endeavors, one which is accorded respect and consideration.
> Strategizing and decision-making are linked with this; our collective
> future, if we are to have one, is also linked to what kind of "space"
> and role there is for each of us. I am your equal; I am not a
> sub-commander in anyone's army, certainly not unless I assent to be
> for certain purposes.
> This involves consultation and an "act" on my part, as well as on
> yours, to which we both agree. You may have received this from a few
> Kenyans, but--realistically--how could they say "no" in this
> situation, or even "hold on a minute, let's talk about this."? You
> have at Global Villages (in response to Franz) likened your role to
> that of a president: a president in a democratic society is voted
> into office by a large number of people.
> Perhaps you do not see those of us outside of Kenya--except yourself
> as Commander-in-Chief--in this command structure. We who are not there
> are still very much involved, and my heart, mind, and spirit are
> there, because I have so many friends, colleagues, and loved ones
> there. From my point of view, we are all in this together, and it is
> therefore important that the collective--the larger whole--does have a
> voice in how this mutual endeavor is structured, framed, labelled, and
> I will leave this here for now and hope to talk with you in the next
> few days, Andrius. It would be good if we could confer Monday or
> Tuesday: Monday at 11 am my time would be fine; Tuesday at 10am would
> be good. Both days, anytime after 4pm my time.
> I hope everyone understands that the spirit of this letter is not
> meant to be "critical" in a putdown way. It is meant to be
> constructive: just as Kenya will need to recontruct--including a
> wholesale rethinking of approaches, patterns, and structures, if true
> peace is to be established--so we may need to conceive of our
> endeavors and our relationships in a new way, one which will speak to
> the future with new dreams and possibilities, let alone new realities.
> This is part of my own investigatory question and focus, and where I
> have arrived after many years in social-change organizations, in my
> work in Africa, and in holistic helping and development. Thank you so
> much for encouraging myself and others to share our
> views-growth-personal development-visions, Andrius and everyone. I
> look forward to many more years (let alone lifetimes and incarnations
> :)) of learning, working, dreaming, and "being" together.
> Thanks much and blessings and love to all, Janet