Our world – our country – our neighborhoods need more compassion. Protection and empowerment of each other needs to be effective. How do we go from a national empathy deficit to an empathy surplus in public governance. Our promise to one another is a progressive promise. Our promise is built on the progress of the American Union that began with these words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all … are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If only there were an “easy button,” push it and we had an empathy surplus. We can promise you this, though: Join us and together we will pursue happiness and govern compassionately at all levels. Happiness is:
- Governing our daily conversations with compassion;
- Governing our weekly Caring Citizens’ Congress conversations with compassion;
- Governing our neighborhood conversations with compassion;
- Governing our political parties conversations with compassion; and
- Governing our public government conversations with compassion.
Compassionate Public governance is what makes happy and decent Private lives possible. The Private is not possible without a strong, compassionate and effective Public.
Our tools of governance are words, values, ideas, vision, civic cooperation, the internet, and – Caring Citizens’ Congresses and the Charter for Compassion. Specifically, we will frame our governance around the values of empathy and responsibility for self and others AND strength of character to act on those values.
Benjamin Franklin put his ideas in print on a regular basis beginning anonymously at the age of 16 through his brother, James’, printing press. Even his brother didn’t know the true identity of Silence Dogood. Later Franklin wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac.
The Federalist Papers were published between 1787 – 1788. They were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay and promoted the ratification of the United States Constitution.
All of these patriots used the tools that later become our 1st Amendment freedoms:
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom to peaceable assembly
- Freedom to petition government
None of the early patriots had the internet. We have all of the above AND Caring Citizens’ Congresses and the Charter for Compassion.
In 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend, Samuel Kercheval, about “the article nearest my heart – the division of counties into wards.” The inspiration behind Caring Citizens’ Congresses is Jefferson’s “Ward Republics:”
“These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of which taken together composes the State, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern.”
We will use all of these tools to promote compassionate government in our neighborhoods by inviting our neighbors to caring citizenship between elections. Think of the many civic organizations we have today that promote charitable action: Rotary International, Kiwanis International, Lions International, to name a few. In the American tradition of civic cooperation Caring Citizen Delegates gather weekly around a meal, speakers, and conversation to advance an empathy surplus in public government.
Our bargain with one another is to join hands and occupy compassion where we live. Join us. Pick up freedom’s tools. Gather with us physically or virtually for conversations that matter in order to form a more perfect Union – the American Union. There will always be room for improvement to unite us who are currently divided by party, race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, etc.
Our bargain with one another: We, as caring citizens, will build an empathy surplus in our republic and re-imagine the idea of a well-functioning democracy one neighbor and one precinct at a time.
Phase I of the Empathy Surplus Project is two-fold:
- Recruit the governing board of the Empathy Surplus Project by
- Chartering ten Caring Citizens’ Congresses (CCC).
The governing board of the Empathy Surplus Project is called the Council of Compassion. When fully-functional it will have twelve members, i.e. two founders and one ambassador from each of the first ten Caring Citizens’ Congresses (CCC).
The governing board of each CCC is called the Empathy Caucus. Their ambassador to the Empathy Surplus Project Council of Compassion also serves on their Empathy Caucus.
Phase 1 started in August 2009. The founders and their consultants created our founding documents over the next 16 months. We are in process of acquiring our federal tax exemption. We actively began recruiting Caring Citizen Delegates in January 2011. We formed our first faith community partnership in 2012. We are now, two years later, close to forming our fist Caring Citizens’ Congress. Conversations that matter take time.
Below you will find the names and faces and contact information of our first fully credentialed delegate candidates. We have these five and a sixth in process. At seven delegates our first Congress will be chartered, convened and capable of creating our first caring policy directions. Will you be the seventh caring citizen delegate?
Phase II of the Empathy Surplus Project will start once we have ten Congresses.
Four Responsibilities for Caring Citizen Delegates to Occupy Their Precincts
Building American character is a relational activity that focuses on building a strong sense of responsibility, both personal and social, that is empathic in nature: Caring citizens protect and empower each other. Caring Citizens Congresses are small communities of practice of persons of any political party membership, or no affiliation, who want to practice our four responsibilities of caring citizenship.
Participants must acknowledge core values for public governance of empathy, responsibility – both personal and shared – and want to exercise strength to act on these values. It takes 7 partners to charter a Caring Citizens’ Congress affiliated with the Empathy Surplus Project:
- Inwardly digest daily the need for empathy and responsibility for self and others “in order to form a more perfect Union.”
- Invest “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to strengthen our 1st Amendment freedoms and “peaceably to assemble” weekly.
- Implement caring policy directions to fulfill our lives, secure our liberties and perfect our pursuit of happiness.
- Invite our neighbors to occupy compassion, join our weekly Caring Citizens’ Congress and strengthen Americans.
The following persons are gathering Tuesday evenings either physically or virtually to strengthen our 1st Amendment freedoms. We need seven delegate candidates to charter this first Congress. Want more information? Call Anita Dobrzelecki, New Congress Envoy, 937-902-0964.
Our 1st Amendment gatherings are Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. for a meal. Our agenda is 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. The venue currently alternates between somewhere in Clinton or Greene County.
Contact one of the candidates for Caring Citizen Delegate. To see our agenda and gathering times or to be invited to a Google Hangout ADD this website to your Google+ Circle of Friends.
- Anita Dobrzelecki, Voted in last Democratic primary, Bellbrook, OH, firstname.lastname@example.org. New Congress Envoy. Credentialed as delegate.
- Gary Evans, Voted in last Republican primary, New Vienna, OH, co-founder, email@example.com. Credentialed as delegate.
- Kathryn Palmer, voted in last Democratic primary, Wilmington, OH, firstname.lastname@example.org. Credentialed as delegate.
- Marla Stewart, voted in last Democratic primary, Wilmington, OH, email@example.com. Credentialed as delegate.
- Chuck Watts, voted in last Democratic primary, Co-Founder, Wilmington, OH, elected precinct representative to county party, firstname.lastname@example.org. Credentialed as delegate.
Registered voters seeking caring citizen delegate status may download this manual (click on highlight above) for details on what credentials are needed to qualify as a delegate. Candidates for caring citizen delegate gather their credentials and send them to Anita Dobrzelecki, New Congress Envoy, 691 S. Alpha Bellbrook Road, Bellbrook, OH 45305.
Registered voters who want to start a Caring Citizens Congress could seek a faith community partnership through their church, mosque or synagogue. Click on the link above for more information.
Chartering a Caring Citizens Congress
Registered voters seeking to charter a Caring Citizens Congress start with a weekly conversation with other Caring Citizen Delegate Candidates. You can join an existing Congress either physically or virtually by Google Hangout. Or you can start your own Congress by contacting Chuck Watts or Gary Evans by email. All weekly Congress 1st Amendment gatherings include a common meal and a guided discussion of Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Vision and Values.
Guided Discussion Process
- Choose a facilitator and change facilitators each meeting.
- Start with icebreakers and introductions, where you’re from, and why you’re there.
- The facilitator starts the discussion of the preface/introduction or chapter by sharing ONE word or phrase that comes to mind when s/he thinks about the assigned reading. For example, “freedom,” or “Caring citizens are the solution.” Then s/he invites some to do the same. (It’s okay to pass.) That person does the same until everyone has had a chance to share and then invite someone to share.
- The facilitator then shares his/her feeling about the material. For example, anxious. Confused. Angry. Energized. Then s/he invites some to do the same. (It’s okay to pass.) That person does the same until everyone has had a chance to share and then invite someone to share.
- The facilitator then tells everyone what s/he thinks about the material. For example, perhaps it’s a critique, or it inspires someone to describe future action, or one has an idea about a policy direction the group ought to launch. THERE IS NO INTERRUPTION. This is not a discussion – - – yet. Then s/he invites some to do the same. (It’s okay to pass.) That person does the same until everyone has had a chance to share and then invite someone to share.
- After everyone has had a chance to share their (1) word or phrase, (2) feeling, and (3) their thoughts, the facilitator opens it up for discussion.
- Before adjourning the group picks a facilitator for the next meeting who will do the same process.