PHC is an entirely
independent group, not affiliated with any other organization. However, many of our ideas derive from Michael Lerner's
Politics Of Meaning movement. Below is a primer of Basic Politics Of Meaning Ideas, from an article Lerner wrote in Tikkun
Magazine, March/April 25, 2009:
P.O.M. BASIC IDEAS
(From: “I Have Cancer – And Yes, You Can Help Me Deal With It”
– Tikkun Magazine, March/April 2009)
A. We need a New
Bottom Line such that institutions, corporations, social practices, our educational system, our legal system, and even our
personal behaviors are judged efficient, rational, and productive, not only to the extent that they maximize material well-being,
but also to the extent that they maximize love and generosity, kindness and caring for others, ethical and ecological sensitivity,
and to the extent that they enhance our capacities to respond to the universe with awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the
grandeur of creation.
B. The war on terrorism is not going to work. War and domination as instruments
of homeland security are the wrong strategies. It is through caring for and generosity toward others that we can most successfully
provide security for our families, our country, and ourselves. People in most countries may not yet be ready to give up their
militaries, but we may be able to convince them that each nation's military should stay inside the borders of its own country,
and that every dollar spent on the military should be matched by another dollar to fund our alternative for homeland security:
the Strategy of Generosity. We seek to achieve homeland security through overt caring about the well-being of everyone else
on the planet. Our plan for a Domestic and Global Marshall Plan is a specific way to achieve this goal.
The goal of liberals and progressives should not only be equality of material circumstances, but the creation of a global
society in which love and generosity, ecological sensitivity, and awe and wonder at the universe permeate all human relations
and determine our social priorities. It is this—not how many computers, cell phones, or other new technologies get produced—that
is what we mean by progress. Saving the environment globally requires a shift to this concept of well-being and progress.
This is what our schools must teach and what our corporations and legal system must embody. Only an economy organized around
those principles will be practical in terms of global survival.
D. We build for these goals in ways that avoid demeaning
those with whom we disagree, but instead recognize that they too are created in the image of God. But we do not let our insistence
that they are created in the image of God impede us from throwing our full energy into removing them from positions of power,
overturning their economic system, or putting them in prison when they have violated basic human rights. (We could start there
with the enablers of torture in the Bush administration.) Respect for the other is consistent with nonviolently resisting
negative policies with all our strength, thereby rejecting the kind of nonjudgmental, nonconfrontational, "who am I to judge
others or call others' policies evil?" kind of moral relativism that sometimes permeates New Age spirituality. We need a spiritual
politics in which we encourage forgiveness and compassion, but not moral relativism or the inability to struggle to replace
systems of domination. And simultaneously, our task is to speak to the part of every human being that really does want a new
kind of world. We need to help each other overcome the fear that our desires are unrealistic or utopian, when in fact what
is utopian is imagining that the planet is going to survive without a drastic and fundamental new orientation toward activities
considered "efficient and productive."
We recognize that even in those with whom we disagree, or in those who are deeply cynical, there is a part that yearns for
a different reality, wants real loving community, and values generosity and caring. It is actually these decent and good desires
that lead them to seek "communities of meaning and purpose" of any sort they can find—which often turn out to be ultra-nationalist
or fundamentalist religious communities. Our task is to uncover and help reconnect people to the legitimate part of their
need structure that is not fulfilled in contemporary capitalist societies, and to help them find a different and more loving
way to fulfill those needs.
We refuse to accept global capitalism as the ultimate and only possible economic arrangement, but we also reject bureaucratic
socialist solutions. Instead we insist on the possibility of building a new global economy that seeks to promote our New Bottom
Line. For that reason, we also question "solutions" to the current economic crisis that assume the current economic system
to be unchangeable and only seek to bolster and rebuild it. We are not advocates for repair of a system based on values that
privilege materialism, selfishness, and the interests of the powerful, whether that system calls itself capitalism, socialism,
democracy, or some kind of religious society. What counts for us is this simple question: when it comes down to the decisions
being made on a day-to-day basis, how much do the values of the New Bottom Line determine the outcome? There is enough for
everyone on this planet, and we can build an economic reality that shares what we have and also preserves the planet from
needless exploitation to create unnecessary consumer goods.