[Summit] In denial, who's who, reactionary

Robert Mathiesen rmath13 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 18 16:25:21 CST 2015

And I stand by "mendacious" for the sort of abuse that can easily occur in
"consensus-building" from time to time.  It is possible to build a
consensus honestly and respectfully, especially in a small group, but in
large groups it takes exceptional people for honesty and respect to prevail
over some people's lust for getting one's own way at any cost.  And,
personally, I mistrust all consensus, and I find dissensus far more
condusive to realistic group action.

Fr Eng has been brief in the past, and the dialogue between him and others
has been on the order of, "You've got your facts wrong!" and "No. you
have!"  I am genuinely curious about his/her thinking on the subject of
governance and decision-making in groups, and I am also hoping to move the
dialogue beyond outrage and anger.  I have always learned far more from
people who go against the grain and cause trouble and dissension, than from
people who do not stand out from the group.  I hope to learn from him/her.
It seemed only courteous to offer Fr Eng to conduct our conversation either
in public or in private, as he/she prefers,

If you don't want to observe it, don't follow the thread.

Bob Mathiesen

On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 4:17 PM, Kim Clark <ktcxyz at cox.net> wrote:

> i object to the word “mendacious”.
> thing is… that this dialog is repetitious. every time this one person does
> his repetitive rant, the conversation unfolds the same way, we have the
> same discussion, it starts with similar comments, moves to the proposed
> rules and rejection of those rules, is followed by the same manifestos…
> leaves me scratching my head upon following this same convo for the 3rd or
> 4th time.
> k
>  <http://www.rhodycraft.com>
> On Jan 18, 2015, at 2:47 PM, Robert Mathiesen <rmath13 at gmail.com> wrote:
> This post actually raises a serious question in a substantive way.  Thank
> you, Fr Eng.
> I think, however, that your way of dealing with it is fundamentally
> wrong.  Hence this longish post.
> The question, as I see it, is about the decision-making process within the
> SNA, and more broadly, about how policy decisions should be mae in such
> organizations.
> My sense of the SNA membership is that on very many issues, a significant
> fraction of the membership -- a different fraction from one issue to the
> next -- doesn't care strongly enough about the outcome to put much time and
> effort into influencing the outcome.  And the remaining membership, the
> ones who do care strongly about that issue, are divided about the outcome
> they desire, but will be content  in any case to go along with whatever
> action the organization finally undertakes.  Hardly anyone feels strongly
> enough about any particualr issue to ne more than mildly annoyed when a
> decision seems wrong to them.  Righteous outrage, or even indignation, or
> passion for any issue, seems to be in very short supply among us.
> Under those conditions, not just here on the East Side in SNA, but in any
> organization, the decisions end up being made by a fairly small group of
> energetic members.  In SNA, this is usually the Board of Directors.  The
> rest of us are mostly content to say, "Eh, whatever ..." when we would have
> preferred a different outcome, or to applaud lightly when we like what was
> decided.
> Under conditions such as these, consensus-building processes simply don't
> work as a means of democratic decision-making; the few people with the most
> endurance and the fewest demands on their time elsewhere, shape the
> decision and then present it -- mendaciously -- as the "consensus" of the
> organization.  Formal votes, like our own National Elections, work slightly
> better, but very often leave a majority of the membership feeling more or
> less dissatisfied with the outcome -- because the turnout for the vote is
> such a small part of the entire membership.
> The only was any organization can function at all, under these conditions,
> is through a willingness to embrace, to actively welcome compromise, where
> no one gets everything (or even most of what) they want, and everyone gets
> a little.  So it is, I think, with SNA.
> And so it was, if memory serves me correctly, with the fountain and the
> trees.
> In your posts on the subject, I believe that I hear righteous anger.
> (Please correct me if I am hearing you wrongly.)  In what actually
> happened, I see the sort of compromise that absolutely has to be made in a
> world where there is no true consensus whatever on what is ther "right"
> course of action in this case, or any such case.  It is not in fact obvious
> that trees are more important than a workign fountain.  Nor is the reverse
> obvious, either.  Reasonable people may disagree on this issue, and on
> ALMOST EVERY hot-button issue that impacts a neighborhood, a city, a state,
> a nation or the entire world.
> And so we compromise: we have a fountain that runs part of the time, and
> we have some trees, though ot as many as we once had.  Also, we do not have
> a purely one-person-one-vote-and-everyone-votes decision-making process,
> for that doesn;t work-- period!  Instead, we have a practical, political
> compormise for getting things done.
> Me, I consider myself a realist, not an idealist, and a centrist, neither
> left-leaning or right-leaning.  So I am content with what happened in the
> park.  Indeed, I think that compromise is almost always the best way to
> resolve a disputed issue, not victory for one side or the other.  But I can
> see how an idealist might find this point of view abhorrent.  If you are
> such an idealist, then I feel for you, because (in my experience) the world
> is rarely kind to idealists.
> I would be glad to discuss these matters more fully with you, either
> on-list or privately, if you think it would be productive to do so.  And I
> concede in advance that I may have misunderstood some of the motives that
> lead you to post, and I stand ready to be corrected.  In return I would
> welcome a concession from you that -- just possiby -- very few people in
> the SNA care as passionately as you do about the things you repeatedly
> stress, and the -- just possiby -- nothing you or anyone can do or say will
> ever change that.
> Bob Mathiesen
> On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 10:49 AM, Fr Eng <ridotshaw at gmail.com> wrote:
>> So,
>> I have referred to a very factual incident - the destruction of trees on
>> a much loved park.  That was planned and started so a fountain could be
>> rebuilt.  Why go back to this terrible incident?  Because when I first
>> objected to the plan - when it was just a plan - the forum was told to just
>> forget my objections.  They would go away when the fountain was built.
>> Well, when the destruction of trees started, the real neighborhood rose up,
>> not SNA which had really proposed the project and approved the tree
>> destruction.
>> So now in addition to working to forget the mistake that was made and who
>> was responsible (SNA), we want to obliterate any memory and objection to
>> what some people think should happen in a neighborhood.
>> And people wonder why some think the East Side is elitist????
>> Nice broad brush reactionary response and responses.  What do you want
>> for me to id myself... my SS #?  my blood type?  my preferences?   Wow!!!
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