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Open Letter to my Congress Critters, July 8, 2017

Good job. Thank you! My suggestion, focused on approach.

To my federal representatives in Congress,

To begin, I want to sincerely thank you, on my own behalf as well as on behalf of 22 million other Americans.

I want to thank you for standing up to the closed door, fear-based, non-productive attempt at “problem-solving” (sic) in regard to our nation’s health and healthcare needs, as was represented by the recent activities of a subset of the Senate and their proposal for healthcare discussion.

You and I both know that American health and healthcare issues are very complex.

I do not presume to know “the answer;” nor do I presume that you, my esteemed Congressional representative, actually would either. Those who assert to having “the answer” are deluding themselves or trying to delude others.

You and I are both very busy. So let me cut to the chase.

The “answer” to solving a complex problem such as this lies in the approach to finding solutions, not in any pre-held “positions,” and particularly if exclusionary.

You know this (I hope) as well as I do. Interests-based approaches to problem-solving and conflict resolution are far more productive and effective than are position-based approaches, and generally produce far more sustainable results.

However, this may not be “common knowledge” among the entire populace and therefore among many of your constituents. This is, therefore, where your leadership is especially important.

It is essential, my Congress person, that you assert this fact. No? We need real bi-partisan problem-solving, yes?

But how might we move constructively and inclusively beyond the entrenched disagreements among the participants in our country?

We must help each other to recognize that WE ALL are operating in — that is, are all, each in our own way, caught in the midst of and influenced by — the cultural and sub-cultural assumptions we each bring to the interaction and to our attempts toward problem-solving. In fact, many of our assumptions are unconscious and need to be made conscious to empower more effective creativity with accountability.

Failure to constructively recognize and include clear and accurate cultural and sub-cultural assumptions here — including especially unconscious assumptions — will sabotage your (or my) efforts toward creation of constructive and sustaining solutions — just as failure today to take a STEM approach to designing and updating our major transportation thoroughfares will also likely lead to disastrous results.

Are not our human communities worthy of at least as much reflective thoughtfulness with mindfulness from a variety of angles, that include also our scientific understandings, at least as much as we invest in our dynamic physical creations?

I think so.

Everybody, and everything we conceive, create, and do, is impacted by each participant’s cultural and sub-cultural beliefs and assumptions.

Failure to constructively recognize clear and accurate cultural and sub-cultural assumptions is what happened when both the federal House and Senate (genuinely) attempted to come up with their (terrible and non-workable) healthcare (and budget) proposals.

I am requesting that you, as leader, provide leadership in the direction of “humble inquiry” to generate more constructive understandings, and cultural sensibilities.

Note, I receive zero financial benefit from your taking advantage of such resources; I simply want to remind and empower you, my dear Congressional representative.

I voted for you in our last election process, because believed I saw in you someone who could very well appreciate what I am sharing with you here.

In closing I summarize by heavily plagiarizing Dr. Edgar Schein, author of Organizational Culture and Leadership (2017; 5th Edition):

As humans, there are several fundamental issues around which consensus must develop an order for organized actions to occur.  As humans we have a brain with a set of highly developed cognitive functions; we have emotions that must be managed, and we have intentions or will that must find outlets.   These issues can best be conceptualized as a set of questions that every member of a group, organization, and nation must resolve in order to be able to focus on constructive tasks to be accomplished. Until these questions are answered to some satisfactory degree, the person will be anxious and preoccupied with his or her own personal issues instead of focusing on the group’s legitimate tasks.

Problems that must be resolved include identity and role, power and influence, needs and goals, acceptance and intimacy.

Every group, organization, and society will develop different solutions to each of these problem areas, but some kind of solutions must be found for people to get past self-oriented defensive behavior in order to be able to function in the group. This is required to be able to establish a reliable and meaningful social order that provides cognitive clarity, management of aggression and love, and outlets for intention and will.

Please let me know how I might further support you, my dear Congressional representative, to come up with approaches to solutions that constructively include, rather than exclude, our full American citizenry and their dependents.

Wishing you well-grounded and mindful actions toward a healthy, creative, and sustainable U.S. of A.

Most sincerely,

~Norman Jentner

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