FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Best Practices

When I was working as a teacher, I loved the phrase “best practices.” It suggested pooled wisdom, a collective weeding out of the more effective from the less effective, a distillation of the authentic out of a world of potential baloney. It implied disinterested cooperation to figure out what really does work when we’re trying to help children learn. Any collection of best practices would synergize with each other in a perfect storm of competency.

I heard the phrase again during the extended health care reform debate, in one of the most sensible discussions of the issues broadcast on the radio. A gentleman named T.R. Reid had gone to four countries and picked out sensible options that could work well here in the U.S. For example, French citizens have an electronic card that has their entire medical record on it. When they visit a clinic, the doctor gets the needed data off the card. What a great idea!

But of course in “real life,” the corrupt processes of our politics boil most suggestions for best practices away; what remains is a residue composed of the shortsighted interests of the powerful. And, as we have learned from watching contemporary institutions like our own Supreme Court at work, apparent disinterestedness can often mask a latent political bias.

I know that Washington and other capitals of the world are dotted with think tanks that aspire to disinterested best practices. But there is something about the distance between the pace of the challenges we face as a planet and the molasses-like speed of elite research and legislative change that seems not only grossly inadequate but also intolerable. The oil disaster in the Gulf is one good example. There is the black goo that coats the wings of pelicans, and the thicker, blacker political goo that paralyzes the thinking processes of our lawmakers and bureaucrats. The mainstream media, gigantic corporate interests often owned by even bigger gigantic corporate interests, are not in a position to lead on this proactively.

Maybe what we need is a People’s Manhattan Project of Best Practices. The Internet makes it possible! Wikipedia, while not perfect, is one possible model. Offer a site with a series of issues, and open it to disinterested creative ideas about all our challenges—nuclear weapons, global climate change, pollution, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how to accelerate positive social change. Arrange a voting system where people can see the raw contributions, make comments, and move the best ideas to the forefront without erasing those wild and crazy contributions that might just turn out to be valuable in the long run.

Ideas are powerful, especially when they bubble up from “ordinary” people all around the world. When they do come from global sources, they also represent a meta-idea, which is that posing enemies is obsolete. As the oil spreads into the entire single ocean system on complex currents, once more we are reminded that we are all in this together. It is really dysfunctional to blame and demonize others in this oil-spill crisis. My own demand for inexpensive gasoline fueled it.

The same is true for many other crises, even big ones like war. War depends on the ability of one group to dehumanize another group to the point where the necessary violence and killing can be rationalized. But if we open the prevention of war itself to a disinterested worldwide forum, there are no enemies, there are only members of the human species sharing ideas about alternatives to war, resurrecting that old 1960s bumper-sticker possibility: what if they gave a war and (because everyone knew the best practices for resolving conflict without violence) nobody came?

WINSLOW MYERS, a retired teacher, lives in Boston and serves on the Board of Beyond War, a non-profit, non-political foundation exploring and promoting alternatives to war. He is the author of Living Beyond War.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

Winslow Myers is author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide.” He serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive Initiative.

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail