Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011
It's All About "We"
by Rick Ulfik
First, congratulations and many thanks to Tikkun and everyone who has contributed to its success over twenty-five years. My work in the 1990s as a volunteer for Michael Lerner and Tikkun led me to make a transition from being a full-time musician and composer to becoming a full-time organizer and activist, now promoting the idea of making the shift from "I" to "We."
In 1995, I first heard Michael speak about the disastrous consequences that result when many of a society's thought leaders and media advocate "looking out for number one" instead of expanding our circles of caring, compassion, and understanding. Now I spend my time helping the WE Campaign and www.we.net amplify the voices of those (like Michael Lerner, Tikkun, and the Network of Spiritual Progressives) who promote the consideration of the common good in our individual actions and attitudes as well as collectively in the policies of our major business institutions, media, and government.
My recommendation for the current (and next) generation of "tikkunistas" is this: To be successful at creating real and positive change, I believe we need more of a certain kind of messaging that has often been missing or peripheral in the public discourse of progressives and especially liberal politicians. "It's All About We" sums it up.
During 2010 the values and consciousness of "We," embodied in the idea of tikkun olam, were sorely lacking in much of the mainstream media discourse during the run-up to the 2010 U.S. midterm elections and afterward. The major media promoted special-interest-funded Tea Party ideology (libertarian, individualistic, "I" consciousness) more than they have in many years. This helped slow progress on a range of issues: health care, immigration, gay and other rights, finance reform, foreign policy, climate/environmental policy, green energy and green job investment, and so on.
I believe success in these issue areas is dependent on creating a cultural shift based on "We" values. In his video message about our WE Campaign, Archbishop Desmond Tutu says:
Join us in a movement without which all the other movements for change can not be successful.... The crucial movement we are talking about is the shift from "I" to "We."
We're at a critical juncture when the "We" message could unite tens of millions of culturally creative people in the United States and elsewhere who share values of peace, nonviolence, social justice, eco-stewardship, holistic health, etc. Those people already have "We" consciousness and are wondering where our country is headed. They could be a core constituency of a movement to make such a cultural shift to We.
If progressives can prevail upon Democrats to use more explicit references to We and the common good (as Michael Lerner and Tikkun frequently do), media portrayals of issues could shift, support for public interest policies could increase, and special-interest-dominated legislation (that perpetuates war, inequality, and environmental destruction) might decline. That could affect the direction of the United States and the entire world. I don't think We can afford to wait any longer.
Rick Ulfik is the founder of We, The World, and the WE Campaign.
Source Citation: Ulfik, Rick. 2011. It’s All About “We.” Tikkun 26(1): online exclusive.