rn:We are co-creators of co-intelligence & co-stupidity-on Freedom of Info Act & conception of God (!)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

As many of you will know, Tom Atlee is doing his best to promote
"co-intelligence". Below, he points out that "co-stupidity" exists as well,
and that we can contribute to shifting the balance between these two fields.

I'm including a quote on seeing ourselves as co-creators of God, a quote
which fits in well with this posting.

all the best, Jan
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 07:50:30 -0800
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: A shift in the fields of co-stupidity and co-intelligence

Dear friends,

My work is to improve democracy, to make it wiser.  It seems there are
quite a few efforts out there to degrade it, to make it stupider, such as
the development described below (thanks to Dan Drasin).

Lack of vital information makes a person -- or a society -- stupid.
Without accurate, balanced, relevant information, even bright people will
COLLECTIVELY manifest what I call co-stupidity -- the whole system (group,
organization, society) behaves like an idiot.  Many things contribute to
co-stupidity.  The radical degradation of the Freedom of Information Act,
described below, is one.

Whatever keeps us from taking assertive action to recover our democracy --
to correct co-stupid initiatives like Attorney General Ashcroft's -- is
another.  Notice how it feels to read the editorial below -- and what you
do afterwards.  Take a few minutes to reflect on what helps you or hinders
you in taking action to correct this dangerous development.  Whatever
stimulates you to act is an aspect of the field of co-intelligence in which
you (and we) are immersed.  Whatever undermines your desire or ability to
act is an aspect of the field of co-stupidity in which you (and we) are

Both fields exist simultaneously, always.  Like the magnetic and
gravitational fields of Earth, the fields of co-intelligence and
co-stupidity are everywhere, both inside us and around us, generated by us
all, and shaping our lives.  Inside us they can be experienced as thoughts,
feelings, attitudes, levels of energy, habits, etc., that move us to
collaborate and act responsibly on behalf of the common good -- or which
disperse our attention from that, or render us cynical or apathetic or
confused about what we might do.

"We can't let this happen!" or "I've got to alert all my friends to this!"
-- vs "What can one person do?" or "I don't have any time to deal with
this!" -- are attitudes chiseled into our minds by the socialization we've
received and the social structures in which we live.  These are evidence of
the presence of invisible fields of co-intelligence and co-stupidity, just
as mysteriously aligned iron filings are evidence of an invisible magnetic
field nearby.

All this has nothing to do with whether we're individually intelligent.  I
repeat:  The existence of co-intelligence or co-stupidity has nothing to do
with whether we're individually intelligent.  That's a totally separate
phenomenon.  Mr. Ashcroft may be more or less intelligent than you or me.
That's irrelevant.  Co-stupidity and co-intelligence are more about us
together, what's between us, and what's around us, than about our
individual selves.  For example, we may ask:  In general, is there ample
time, opportunity and resources for people to dialogue and take action?  Is
high quality information routinely generated and readily available?  Are
diversity, dissent and honesty widely respected, demanded and rewarded, and
their absence questioned?  Do people widely feel their interests and
perspectives are embodied and carried forward by their governing

To the extent our answers to these are "Yes", the field of democratic
co-intelligence is strong and individual acts of creative citizenship
(democratic co-intelligence) will be easy to take (and therefore common,
reinforcing the field).  To the extent the answers are "No", the field of
co-stupidity predominates and citizenship is atrophied (thereby
strengthening the field of co-stupidity).

Now comes the paradox:  Much of these fields are generated by our culture,
our institutions and our past conditioning.  But this in no way changes the
fact that we can recognize our condition and take action to change it,
individually or together.  Because, right now, we are all co-creating our
culture, our institutions and our past conditioning.  Co-intelligence and
co-stupidity are just two modes of co-creation.  Co-creation is going on
all the time, and all of us are doing it.

We can create something else, at any moment, in every moment.

That's what the editorial writer below realized, when he or she wrote -- on
January 6 -- about something that happened on October 12 last year.
Something in the field was shifting -- from co-stupidity to co-intelligence
-- and they became part of it.

We can each be part of that collective awakening, and help it along.


EDITORIAL:  On the Public's Right to Know

San Francisco Chronicle Page D - 4
Sunday, January 6, 2002

THE PRESIDENT didn't ask the networks for television time.  The attorney
general didn't hold a press conference.  The media didn't report any dramatic
change in governmental policy.  As a result, most Americans had no idea that
one of their most precious freedoms disappeared on Oct. 12.

Yet it happened.  In a memo that slipped beneath the political radar, U.S.
Attorney General John Ashcroft vigorously urged federal agencies to resist
most Freedom of Information Act requests made by American citizens.

Passed in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Freedom of
Information Act has been hailed as one of our greatest democratic reforms.
It allows ordinary citizens to hold the government accountable by requesting
and scrutinizing public documents and records.  Without it, journalists,
newspapers, historians and watchdog groups would never be able to keep the
government honest.  It was our post-Watergate reward, the act that allows us
to know what our elected officials do, rather than what they say.  It is our
national sunshine law, legislation that forces agencies to disclose their
public records and documents.

Yet without fanfare, the attorney general simply quashed the FOIA.  The
Department of Justice did not respond to numerous calls from The Chronicle to
comment on the memo.

So, rather than asking federal officials to pay special attention when the
public's right to know might collide with the government's need to safeguard
our security, Ashcroft instead asked them to consider whether "institutional,
commercial and personal privacy interests could be implicated by disclosure
of the information." Even more disturbing, he wrote:

"When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in
whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will
defend your decisions unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an
unwarranted risk of adverse impact on the ability of other agencies to
protect other important records."

Somehow, this memo never surfaced.  When coupled with President Bush's Nov. 1
executive order that allows him to seal all presidential records since 1980,
the effect is positively chilling.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, we have witnessed a flurry of federal orders
designed to beef up the nation's security.  Many anti-terrorist measures have
carefully balanced the public's right to know with the government's
responsibility to protect its citizens.

Who, for example, would argue against taking detailed plans of nuclear
reactors, oil refineries or reservoirs off the Web?

No one.  Almost all Americans agree that the nation's security is our highest

Yet half the country is also worried that the government might use the fear
of terrorism as a pretext for protecting officials from public scrutiny.

Now we know that they have good reason to worry.  For more than a quarter of
a century, the Freedom of Information Act has ratified the public's right to
know what the government, its agencies and its officials have done.  It has
substituted transparency for secrecy and we, as a democracy, have benefited
from the truths that have been extracted from public records.

Consider, for example, just a few of the recent revelations -- obtained
through FOIA requests -- that newspapers and nonprofit watchdog groups have
been able to publicize during the last few months:

-- The Washington-based Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit
organization, has been able to publish lists of recipients who have received
billions of dollars in federal farm subsidies.  Their Web site, www.ewg.org,
has not only embarrassed the agricultural industry, but also allowed the
public to realize that federal money -- intended to support small family
farmers -- has mostly enhanced the profits of large agricultural

-- The Charlotte Observer has been able to reveal how the Duke Power Co., an
electric utility, cooked its books so that it avoided exceeding its profit
limits.  This creative accounting scheme prevented the utility from giving
lower rates to 2 million customers in North Carolina and South Carolina.

-- USA Today was able to uncover and publicize a widespread pattern of
misconduct among the National Guard's upper echelon that has continued for
more than a decade.  Among the abuses documented in public records are the
inflation of troop strength, the misuse of taxpayer money, incidents of
sexual harassment and the theft of life-insurance payments intended for the
widows and children of Guardsmen.

-- The National Security Archive, a private Washington-based research group,
has been able to obtain records that document an unpublicized event in our
history.  It turns out that in 1975, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger gave Indonesian strongman Suharto the green light to
invade East Timor, an incursion that left 200,000 people dead.

-- By examining tens of thousands of public records, the Associated Press has
been able to substantiate the long-held African American allegation that
white people -- through threats of violence, even murder -- cheated them out
of their land.  In many cases, government officials simply approved the
transfer of property deeds.  Valued at tens of million of dollars, some
24,000 acres of farm and timber lands, once the property of 406 black
families, are now owned by whites or corporations.

These are but a sample of the revelations made possible by recent FOIA
requests. None of them endangers the national security.  It is important to
remember that all classified documents are protected from FOIA requests and
unavailable to the public.

Yet these secrets have exposed all kinds of official skullduggery, some of
which even violated the law.  True, such revelations may disgrace public
officials or even result in criminal charges, but that is the consequence --
or shall we say, the punishment -- for violating the public trust.

No one disputes that we must safeguard our national security.  All of us want
to protect our nation from further acts of terrorism.  But we must never
allow the public's right to know, enshrined in the Freedom of Information
Act, to be suppressed for the sake of official convenience.

Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440
http://www.co-intelligence.org *  http://www.democracyinnovations.org
Please support our work.  *  Your donations are fully tax-deductible.
from a letter to a friend:
It occured to me that I want to write about "myths". I was reading in
Starhawk's _Truth or Dare_ that according to the standard Christian view, if
one flubs up in life, one is "punished" in some way or another... whereas in
Wicka if you miss an opportunity it just keeps coming around over and over
again in various forms until you "take" the opportunity/learn the lesson...

The myth I like best (so far) is well-expressed by Sylvia Fraser (_The Book
of Strange_):

"For the Universe to be meaningful to, or through, humans, it must be both
intelligent and moral. Basic to most ethical systems is the Golden Rule: 'Do
unto others as you would have them do unto you.' This respects one's self,
one's neighbour and the collective. That is probably all of an ethic that is
universally necessary; everything else is interpretation or dogma.

...a new spiritual view has emerged.... According to this theory, not only
is human consciousness evolving but so is God's.

... This belief in the co-evolution of God corresponds to the co-development
of space: just as the expanding Universe simultaneously creates space,
perhaps expanding human consciousness simultaneously creates God. Stated
Carl Jung: 'As it gradually dawns on people, one by one, that the
transformation of God is not just an interesting idea but is a living
reality, it may begin to function as a new myth. Whoever recognizes this
myth as his own personal reality will put his life in the service of this
progress... Such an individual will experience his life as meaningful."

Using that myth, it makes sense to me to live in such a way as to do my best
to "be the change I seek for the world" (as Gandhi said) and to even train
my thoughts towards what I hope to see, for I believe thought/prayer has
real power.