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Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad Paperback – October 8, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This determinedly optimistic manifesto-cum-workbook by the author of Diet for a Small Planet begins with the question, Why are we as societies creating a world that we as individuals abhor? Lappé posits that U.S. culture is grounded in a worldview of scarcity, creating a society of competitive materialists who practice a Thin Democracy of electoral politics in a one rule market economy that returns wealth to wealth and leads to an ever-increasing concentration of power. Yet she believes there is no reason we can't create a values-guided, empowering democracy based on the premise of plenty, where individuals and communities take charge of public life and engage in active listening, conflict mediation, dialogue and judgment. Full of charts comparing Thin Democracy constructs with Living Democracy alternatives, and ending with a study guide for community Group Talk, the book includes numerous examples of people practicing Living Democracy, from Nobel Prize–winner Muhammad Yunus, instigator of the international microcredit movement, to School Mediation Associates, which teaches conflict resolution and peer mediations skills. Unfortunately, Lappé's coverage of many of these inspiring stories is unintelligibly thin, too often referring readers to her Web site for backup. (Oct. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The indefatigable Lappe turns her finely tuned sense of outrage and her deeply honed sense of conviction to the unending and seemingly unmanageable problems confronting the world and focuses her clarion vision on solutions that may begin with just one person but that can end with an entire culture becoming more informed, more caring, more responsible. If we, as individuals, do not willingly choose to live defeated by poverty, debilitated by disease, demoralized by racism, she posits, then why should these abhorrent conditions not only exist but proliferate, especially in a democratic society? Displaying her usual laserlike logic, Lappe distills her arguments to their most basic level, a tactic that allows her crystalline assessments to virtually leap off the page. Parsing the notion of democracy, Lappe examines its successes and failures, offering creative and innovative methods for turning egregious areas of weakness into exhilarating beacons of strength. Progressing from confronting fear to seizing power, Lappe's treatise on humanity's potential for growth is a comforting source of inspiration. Haggas, Carol
Top customer reviews
Frances is an eco/political Rock Star, world changer, world traveler, long-time celebrated author of dozens of books (literally), and sprightly hot mama! The book is already getting glowing reviews as being revolutionary and insightful from places like O Magazine. It's message is timely, innovative and radical. Every morsel of this delectable credo-meets-blueprint is fluid and human yet scrupulously well thought out and honest. After all these years, Frances has finally written a book that condenses the most weighty and sensible points from her previous works, reshaping them into one cohesive lens for viewing our current situation.
Her message is hopeful but realistic. Not many books on democracy have such a high level of authenticity. Her ability to bypass the normal, worn-out political arguments is refreshing and out of the box. The time has come for the American people, and the citizens of the world, to take our lives and our governments into our own hands to create the world we want, in which we can all thrive together. A better world is possible, and Frances Moore Lappé is one of a handful of authors whose vision points the way.
This book is intended as a manual for social and environmental change activists, and not as a business book. Nonetheless, it's quite applicable to the world of business, and draws on a number of business principles and ideas, including the recently popular Law of Attraction. Lappé doesn't use that term, but her emphasis is clear: what you pay attention to becomes bigger and more real. Also, what I have for several years called the Abundance Principle: that there is plenty to go around, but a big maldistribution of resources. No one needs to be hungry or lack fuel once this imbalance is addressed.
Lappé's central thesis is that large corporate and government entities have robbed consumers of their citizenship, by substituting what she calls "Thin Democracy"--I'd call it "Pseudo-Democracy" for the involved and active citizen participation that comprises true democracy--and that we, the people, can take back our rightful heritage as citizens--as people who participate in the decisions that affect us--and initiate true change.
The book is full of inspiring examples of individual people with simple actions that turned injustice into justice--most strongly, the story of an African minister whose pro-democracy efforts brought a visit from the goon squad on a mission to torture and kill. His compassion, humor, and lack of fear in the face of the attack won over the attackers, who, after inflicting significant harm, stopped the attack and brought him to a hospital.
A key insight that I've long believed but not often seen elsewhere is that there are two concurrent social trends: a concentration in corporate and government power and wealth that is threatening to ordinary citizens as well as the environment--and at the same time, an energizing, a democratization based in the actions of ordinary people. This second trend is the Living Democracy, a powerful antidote to Thin Democracy.
To bring Lappé's points back to a business context: she notes that even the biggest companies respond to pressure from their customers, and that what she calls "entry points" allow those consumers (and other stakeholders, such as neighbors) to address--and effect change in--some pretty big issues. In Sweden, for instance, McDonald's serves organic milk, because its customers wouldn't tolerate anything less.
Shel Horowitz's award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, demonstrates how to build a business around ethics, environmental sustainability, and cooperative practices--and how to develop marketing that highlights those advantages.
Frances is able to express her vision clearly and logically, without any of the brouhaha and self-importance so many thinkers possess (and foist on the rest of us). Being a life coach, I love her focus on taking action, but more than that, on helping us to understand how our thinking is so manipulated by our culture. Just today, I was speaking to a client about fear. I told her about this book and directed her to the matrix on "Seven Ways to Rethink Fear." Being a visual person myself, I appreciate the way Lappe's laid this out as well as "Toward a Language of Democracy." Interestingly to me, one of my favorite psychology books, "Escape From Babel, Toward a Unifying Language for Psychotherapy Practice" points out how there are only a few things that make psychology work and that all therapists need to understand and "speak the same language" or they cannot help others. In the same way, Moore Lappe's "Language of Democracy" shows that "truth" remains elusive and it is how we look at things that matters. We can CHOOSE to view words and the people who utter them as antithetical to our own beliefs or we can choose to look deeper and open ourselves to the alternatives.
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