What kingdom of heaven do we wish for?
- I share my thoughts about a culture of independent thinkers that I wish to
organize over the next ten years or so. I imagine that this might be the
kingdom of heaven which Jesus invites us to. I am encouraged these next
two years to explore, What might the kingdom of heaven be like? and reach
out to hear from people of all outlooks.
This year on March 31, 2008 in Vilnius, Lithuania we celebrated the 10th
anniversary of our Minciu Sodas laboratory http://www.ms.lt for serving
and organizing independent thinkers. I feel that we have achieved our
laboratory's purpose. We have established a haven where those who wish to
share of themselves are most welcome. We are openly encouraged as we
I do have to keep looking for sources of work. I have yet to find steady
income or make a profit or pay back my loans. But our lab has shown
unquestionable value. We have provided paid work, travel, computers to
dozens of participants. We are able to organize hundreds and thousands of
I look to our dreams to decide where to invest ourselves. I will start
with my own dreams. Even as a child, I wished to know everything and
apply that knowledge usefully. I have made good progress to observe and
pull together the conceptual limits of my own mind and perhaps all minds.
I am excited that our laboratory's culture makes practical a shared
framework of values, investigations, endeavors, visions by which we might
understand each other as one person in many situations. My dream is now
to make real such a culture.
We have at least the beginnings of such a culture. We have collected
hundreds of answers to the questions, What is your deepest value in life?
What is a question that you don't know the answer to, but wish to answer?
What would you like to achieve?
We observe stages in our personal growth as independent thinkers. Our
deepest values are able to represent us truly; they are the aspects of
love which we personally champion; they are perhaps our very souls that
grow only brighter and cannot perish. Our investigations have us cherish
the unknown, so that we can embrace our endless growth. Our endeavors
make apparent that we strive for the sake of others and the root of our
striving is to reach out to the hard to reach.
Independent thinkers are true to themselves, thus slow to agree to others,
thus never in the center, butthus everywhere else. We make sense of our
lives with our own private languages, yet we are able to agree with each
other deeply, perhaps absolutely, for we can refer to the same existential
situation. At the heart of our work together are several principles:
* We work in the Public Domain by default. We allow others to share and
reuse our work freely so that we might use our best judgment to help each
other and build on each other's work. We work openly, think out loud and
* We understand that money can bring us together, but you can't pay
somebody to care. External motivation must defer to internal motivation.
We work for free and thereby demonstrate what we do care about, and so we
can meet each other halfway when we work for pay.
* We want all to succeed and so we make good of every person's contribution.
I ask us to share our visions of such a culture. Or simply, what kind of
world would we like to live in? Muhammad Yunnus has us ask this question
in his book "Creating a World Without Poverty" which Pamela McLean is
encouraging us to read. We don't have to remake all of the world, we can
start with a part so that all might appreciate what we mean. I think that
a culture with 100,000 active and 1,000,000 supportive participants would
be large enough to address our life's challenges, and allow us to create
our own world where we might fall in love, have families, raise children,
and flourish across the generations. Franz Nahrada and I think of a
culture that allows for God as independent thinker, and then looks to the
independent thinker in every person, and reaches out further to foster
centers for global villages, routes for traveling self-learners, festivals
for projecting our visions, associations for stewardship, and concords for
harmony. I like that we are scattered around the world, but I hope that
we might grow strong locally and even be the dominant culture in one or
more countries such as Lithuania or Kenya.
I feel ready to focus my work at our lab to establish such a culture. We
need not rush, but can tap into our boldest aspirations. I am encouraged
by the support of Janet Feldman, Kennedy Owino, Dennis Kimambo, Rachel
Wambui Kungu and many others whose hearts leap and beat that we might all
rise and dance together.
I have learned to be strong as a leader and thereby allow others to be
strong as well. I thank Benoit Couture for urging me to acknowledge God
as our supreme Commander. (Benoit, how are you? please send me your phone
number!) I do listen to God, and I do enjoy his fellowship, but in many
matters I myself take responsibility, as I did for our work in Kenya, just
as we all do for our work. Yet I must acknowledge Jesus as the source of
key principles that I have offered and that we have proved effective, such
as "love your enemy" and "give everything away". I acknowledge Jesus as a
Commander whose commands I accept even as they challenge me. This is the
Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, who delighted Mohattma Gandhi and others
from many faiths.
Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven as within us, amongst us. What does
he mean? He has several parables about that, and I think they all say,
"What you believe is what happens", just as the DNA of a mustard seed has
within it the mustard plant. He has many teachings, such as "love your
enemy" and "give everything away" that I think were utterly taboo in his
time, and are so counter to our world that I and perhaps all of us
wouldn't think to invent them. I find them divine, from a mind greater
than my own, yet we have shown that we can live by them, and make them
practical. Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven". Who are the poor in spirit? Perhaps we are, as
independent thinkers, for we are spirit, yet isolated, thus poor. The
kingdom of heaven may then be a culture by which we can follow such bold
commands with many small leaps, small risks, rather than as martyrs. Are
we not invited to organize such a culture? to act as we think best when
our master is away? I feel that I have come to this point where I wish to
do so, and we have a haven from which we can.
I will act slowly and purposefully to learn from all who might contribute
to such a culture. I look forward to engaging people from all manner of
cultures and outlooks. I also wish to make plenty of space for God to
participate and to learn how to pray in twos and threes so as to include
him all the more.
In the coming months I will turn anew to our values, investigations,
endeavors and diagram them so that we might navigate them and apply
ourselves with enthusiasm. We have much to do:
* For the Includer http://www.includer.org - mapping out our endeavors for
optimal use of marginal Internet access (thank you, Ricardo and all!),
creating software system, organizing content, practicing with circulating
content, trying out devices for reading content, contacting makers of
digital photo frames and ebook readers.
* Dennis Kimambo has agreed to serve as Commander for our actions to stop
genocide in the South Side of Chicago.
* Organize our team in Lithuania, especially around a movement for sobriety.
* Make a plan for our activity in Africa.
* I continue with my philosophical work.
* I would like us to collect experiences from our lives, including stories.
* I would like us to do work that advances math literacy, see my course
notes for precalculus:
* And other projects in self-learning, see my flash cards for phonics:
As we write about our projects, I can figure out what paid work we might
best seek out.
I am aware of quite a bit of activity by our lab's participants - Rachel,
Dennis, Kennedy are on the Peace Caravan http://www.peace-caravan.org,
Maria Agnese Giraudo and Samwel Kongere will be in Ghana for the elearning
conference, and Ricardo has sent me a wonderful letter about business
activities. I invite us to work openly as much as we can, and I intend to
focus my own efforts on those who do!
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