To the editor,

My purpose is to introduce data supporting dialogue with the premise: “You are not wrong, I am not wrong, we just don’t understand why.”

Communication is urgent for dealing with social and political deadlock. Data is from my worldview (Novatecture, Barnette, 2000 unpublished), and established concepts about power, control, and equality used by counselors, social workers and various professional disciplines, who intervene in multiple level domestic issues, individually and institutionally. (Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs,

Holistic Individualism is the label I assign to my worldview. I believe values are expressions of evolving social systems and all social systems – including individuals, families, communities, and institutions, private and public – are evolving toward an expression of equitable peace.

Peace is the equitable distribution of health, safety, well being and security resources, or spiritual attainment for all social systems. Peace is feasible, if individuals and institutions consciously understand all behaviors hold the power and control to ensure equality for all Americans; the essence of American values!

Awareness and expression of specific meaning and purpose in personal and institutional behaviors are values. They can vary among individuals or institutions absolutely; exact opposite behaviors and beliefs. Learning is crucial if meaning in our beliefs and behaviors is realized.

How we use that meaning to create values must be understood by individuals and institutions.

The American whole – left and right – is almost equally split, as our presidential election illustrated. For instance, if we consider all behaviors to be either “right” or “left,” then the whole of those halves can be modeled.

Our behaviors can be represented as movement around the same pie chart or circle. Image the right going clockwise and the left going anti-clockwise. When we attain our unique purposes and goals, we can assume we have traversed the 360 degree circle.

Imagine unified halves of a whole traveling at individual speeds in opposite directions traversing the entire circle and arriving at the same place all started. I suggest there is no wrong path. We only approached the path from different directions.

If successful, each individual of the right and left two-part whole returned to the same place each started. If behaviors and experiences were instructive, or learning occurred, all could be at a different level or perspective from point of departure, yet be in the same place.

I believe behaviors along the path give us experiences for learning. Learning is not complete unless we share or communicate all learning to the whole and the individuals.

Shared learning enables constructive behavior or evolution. Here use of the word evolution is not intended to convey common religious or scientific connotations. Learning about specific individual and institutional evolution is a primary reason for why I think we exist, and the basis for my worldview.

If we hold consistent beliefs, no matter how different from others, no one should expect or require others to alter their beliefs. It is an opportunity to stretch understanding and behavioral boundaries through listening and dialogue.

Communication requires a consensual viewpoint or place to begin. Thus “you are not wrong, I am not wrong, we just don’t understand why.” Understanding diverse viewpoints is necessary for a peaceful America. Agreement is not.

If we only experience beliefs, values and behaviors exactly like we have, we are not giving ourselves the chance to understand different beliefs and values are OK. Evaluation through dialogue and understanding of other viewpoints is good. No one has to change their beliefs.

That’s the first step in breaking social and political deadlock. Next we need to sustain recognition and understanding we must behave as Americans – not as Republicans, Democrats or independents. If so, we can achieve a peaceful America within our democratic decision making institutions.

Winners and losers are not wrong. Majority rules.

I now introduce behavior descriptors relating to power, control and equality. Visualize the previously mentioned circle with opposite viewpoints moving around the circle circumference in opposite directions.

Nothing following is meant to be judgmental or critical of past or current beliefs or values. They are not good or bad, but resulting behaviors can be constructive and destructive.

The behavior descriptions below were developed and introduced in Minnesota around 1980, following multiple focus groups. We can choose the behaviors we want for America.

These terms describe choices available to individuals and institutions. I think they are extremely illustrative of American values we believe in, or we don’t.


Using coercion and threats       Negotiations and fairness

Using economic abuse             Economic partnership

Using male privilege                Shared responsibility

Using children                         Responsible parenting

Minimizing, denying, blaming    Honesty and accountability

Using isolation                         Trust and support

Using emotional abuse             Respect

Using intimidation                    Non-threatening behavior

Beliefs and values are never right or wrong. Winners and losers are not right or wrong. However, behavior is subject to evaluation – socially and politically.

Destructive behavior supports violence. Constructive behavior supports non-violence. Constructive behavior is required to ensure equality for all – the principle on which America was founded and the Constitution was established and adopted.

What are your preferences?

Paul Barnette


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