Position Statement: What I Stand For
I was recently attacked and egregiously mischaracterized in great detail (slandered, actually) by a high profile public figure, because I pointed out that a meme he had posted on a couple of social networks was what these days is commonly referred to as “fake news.” Whenever I see false information being spread in my social network feeds I point it out. I do this across the political and ideological spectrums, and without regard for whether I agree or disagree with what’s being advocated.
As a result, I have been attacked by people on the right, people on the left, and special interest advocates of all stripes. I therefore will not mention their name here, not only because this post is not about that person, but because he and I subsequently reconciled.
I’ve instead written this because what came clear to me through this attack and reconciliation is that I have not provided in one place a transparent and complete public statement about what I do and don’t stand for. The purpose of this page is to do precisely that.
This document is a work in progress and I am therefore certain that I will refine and add to it over time.
With all of this in mind, here is a portrait of what I stand for…
My Mission & Core Focus
My mission is to use my experience, expertise and skills to help end today’s venomous levels of societal divisiveness, political polarization, and media mindjacking. I do this by providing keynotes, training, facilitation, mentoring, and media interviews, in ethical uses of personal power and collaborative problem-solving. I provide this to citizens, businesses, the media, educators, communities, nations, the international community, and those in leadership and influencer roles.
My core focus is to equip people and groups holding differing perspectives to dialogue effectively and problem-solve productively. I only do this with those who sincerely want to become masterful at this. I don’t seek to “reform” those who are attached to attacking, bullying, or demeaning those whose perspectives differ from their own.
My Views on Self-Responsibility, Impact Literacy, Learned Helplessness & Personal Power
I believe that as an adult and a citizen I am fully responsible for:
- The things I do and don’t pay attention to
- The meaning I assign to what I pay attention to
- The words and actions I choose based on the meaning I assign
- Making sure that the impacts my words and actions have are aligned with the noble concerns and intentions I hold.
I therefore remain in constant connection with the fact that I only see a sliver of what’s there to be seen, that the conclusions I reach because of this are at least incomplete and possibly inaccurate, and that it’s my responsibility to repair any unintended negative impacts my words and actions contribute to, in best ways I know how, and to the extent that those who I’ve impacted are willing to engage with me about this.
Impact Literacy is the ability to accurately assess cause and effect — the ability to connect my words and actions (or my silence or inaction) with the impacts that these things create. I see a society full of people suffering from what my fellow psychologists call Learned Helplessness: the belief that nothing one says or does has positive or negative impact. This belief blinds people to their positive and negative impacts. When people don’t know the positive impacts they have (or have the potential to have), their motivation in relationships, at work, and as citizens is impaired. Similarly, when they don’t know the negative impacts they have, they never learn how to be self-responsible choicemakers.
I view illiteracy about self-responsibility and impact awareness as two of the biggest deficits that can harm a society. I view Learned Helplessness as a big part of what blocks people from stepping into what I call Ethical Personal Power Effectiveness.
My Views on Society, Politics & Governance
Starting in early childhood I felt proud to be an American and equally proud to be a citizen of the world. As an adult I reject a purely nationalist OR purely internationalist perspective, because I view this kind of either-or thinking as harmful rather than helpful. Since I was 16, I have identified as post-partisan, transpartisan, or whatever you want to call this. I have therefore throughout my life voted for candidates based far more on my assessment of their psychospiritual maturity, integrity, self-responsibility, honesty, collaboration competence, and higher vision… than on the positions they claim to have or where they fall on the political continuum (short of being extremists).
I might be best characterized as a Constitutionalist, in that I believe in the brilliance of a country that dares to navigate in good ways the inherent tensions between preserving individual freedom and promoting the common good. To me, this is the foundational core around which the founding of the United States, and its Constitution, are built.
Click the dropdown below for more specifics about what I do and don’t believe about society, politics and governance.
Where I Stand on Society, Politics & Governance
- I believe in personal freedom to the extent that it that does not rob others of their personal freedom.
- I believe in civil rights for all and that discrimination is evil.
- I believe that just because I have a right doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always ethical for me to exercise that right in any way I please.
- I don’t believe in containing divergent opinions or peaceful dissent. I do believe in containing social manipulation through propaganda, false information, and covert manipulation through the misuse of technology.
- I believe in the use of peaceful civil disobedience as a last resort when all other attempts to correct injustices fail, and in accepting responsibility for any legal or social consequences that arise from from acts of civil disobedience.
- I believe in social responsibility to the extent that it does not rob people of their personal freedom and that it promotes a society’s capacity to thrive.
- I believe in corporate responsibility and that when companies and industries refuse to be socially responsible they issue engraved invitations to government to swoop in and incompetently regulate or over-regulate them.
- I believe that the responsibility of government is to set policies that navigate in good ways the inherent tension between preserving individual freedom and promoting the common good.
- I believe that elected officials are mandated to serve the Constitution and citizens, not themselves, their political party, or special interests at the expense of citizens, the Constitution, integrity or ethics.
- I don’t believe in anarchy — I value the role that psychospiritually mature governance is supposed to play in helping to safeguard and promote a psychospiritually mature society. I also don’t believe in government over-reach or debt at the national, state or local level — I believe that government should be kept as small, and as inexpensive to maintain, as possible.
- I believe that countries need to take care of their own people and problems first AND I also believe that each country has an international responsibility to not harm humanity or our planet in how it goes about caring for its own people, and that countries have a responsibility to help other countries to the extent that they don’t harm themselves.
- I believe in citizen self-sufficiency and self-responsibility, not in adults who are capable of caring for themselves being entitled to be taken care of. I believe in the importance of teaching citizens to fish not fishing for them. I believe in caring for those who authentically don’t have the capacity to care for themselves.
- I don’t believe in penalizing the successful for being successful AND I believe that successful people have a social responsibility to channel meaningful portions of their wealth into initiatives that help build the values I’ve described above.
- I believe governments have a responsibility to contain individual and group behaviors that present a clear and present danger to individual freedom or the common good, and to intervene at the minimum level of intensity needed to do that. I believe in containment not vengeance.
My Views on Divisiveness, Polarization & Problem-Solving
I see a dangerously damaging epidemic of “either-or” thinking: I’m right; therefore if you don’t think like I do about a particular issue, you must be wrong at best and evil at worst. I view “either-or” thinking as psychologically and spiritually immature and socially destructive.
I care far less about someone’s positions than I do about the noble concerns and intentions that lead to those positions. I believe that the only way I can be confident that I understand someone’s motivations and character is when they verify that I was able to accurately and respectfully re-state their noble concerns and intentions, and my understanding about why those led them to take the positions they take. I believe that this is a hugely overlooked foundation that makes it possible for people and groups to co-discover comprehensive solutions to any problem.
I believe that until we understand one another’s noble concerns and intentions, we cannot accurately assess each other’s character and beliefs. I believe that when we assassinate each other’s character, intentions, or beliefs instead of understanding each other’s core concerns and intentions, we are harming humanity not helping it. I therefore care about illuminating noble concerns and intentions, and about combining them so comprehensive root cause solutions can emerge.
My Views on Spin, Fake News, Alternate Facts, and Other Forms of Propaganda
I believe that an epidemic of propaganda has taken hold at never-before seen levels, not only because technologies have been hijacked by the intentions and actions of arrogant narcissistic propagandists, but because citizens have not received sufficient training in critical thinking and propaganda-proofing. I view mindjacking as the biggest evil of our time. I fiercely oppose ends-justifies-the-means strategies, tactics and propaganda, because I see them as profoundly manipulative and coercive. It is therefore part of my mission to call it out wherever I see it, regardless of whether the propaganda supports or opposes my beliefs about issues and individuals. The ends don’t justify the means and I am dedicated to calling out this kind of manipulative unethical coercive opportunism whenever I see it and by whomever is using it.
My Views on Honesty, Civility, Political Correctness, & Reconciliation
I believe in the vital importance of treating everyone with respect regardless of whether or not they treat me that way. I view this as civility. I believe in the vital importance of honesty. I oppose disrespect, bullying and character assassination. I view those forms of incivility as dishonesty, not honesty. I believe that incivility exacerbates divisiveness and polarization, and thereby sabotages problem-solving. For this reason, I believe that people who are disrespectful (uncivil) need to be called out on their negative impacts.
I believe in the line from Paul Simon’s song, Tenderness: “You don’t have to lie to me. Just give me some tenderness beneath your honesty.” I believe in blessing people for the wisdom I see within their perspectives — no matter how small that wisdom might be — and in letting people know what I see differently than they do, without demeaning them in order to do that. To me, this is what civility is about.
In contrast, I oppose political correctness because I view this as an attempt to coerce people into saying things the way one group wants them said, no matter how much that censors honesty. I oppose political correctness because it lets perpetrators hide behind using mandated words and lets targets off the hook in dealing with their triggerability. I view political correctness is a form of incivility that’s pretending to be civility. I also oppose political correctness because I believe that when healthy comedy is censored by political correctness requirements (in contrast to civility), we diminish our ability to compassionately laugh at our blindspots and foibles.
I view those who don’t care about how their words impact others as being uncivil, irresponsible, self-centered, and divisive. I also view those who need others to speak in specific ways so they don’t get triggered as being irresponsible, self-centered, and divisive.
In contrast, I have two beliefs about reconciliation.
The first is about when someone’s words trigger me. When I feel like an “ouch” my responsibility is to:
- Inform them about this without attacking them or being attached to them changing
- Get myself to where I am no longer triggered by those words, so in the future I can speak up in clearer more empowered and more connective ways about their impact.
The second is about when my words have triggered someone. When they react in a way that lets me know they experience an “ouch” my responsibility is to:
- Apologize for having “ouched” them
- Offer to learn what the “ouch” was — and to compassionately accept what they say about their own experience
- Let them know what I have learned from this and how that will inform how I will, in the future, communicate what’s in me to say in a more aware way
- Offer to clarify what I had been intending to say (especially my noble intentions and concerns) with that new awareness in mind — and to compassionately re-name my truth in ways that reflect what I have learned from them
Impact is impact, whether intended or unintended. My commitment is to be willing to learn how to speak my truth in ways that can have the greatest positive impact on those to whom I am speaking.
My Views on Collaboration and Synergy
I believe that collaboration is a FAR superior problem-solving strategy to coercion or compromise. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the tactics of coercion and compromise. However, very few people — including most who authentically believe in collaboration — have received adequate training in the skills that turn collaboration from a good intention into effective results.
I believe that our social and environmental challenges are far more complex than most people want to admit. I reject over-simplified explanations, polarized positions, and either-or solutions. I don’t believe that any one person or group sees the entire big picture on any of these issues, and I don’t believe that any one person or group holds the one and only solution to any of these challenges. I believe that the big picture and comprehensive integrated root cause solutions can only emerge when we combine our respective pictures at the level of our noble concerns and intentions, not at the level of our ideological positions or our attachment to specific solutions.
I also don’t believe that any one person or group has the time, energy, money or wisdom to solve all of the challenges we face. I believe that each of us has our own unique calling to have positive impact in only one or some of the many challenges that exist, and with whatever spheres of influence we’re called to impact. I believe we need to honor ourselves for the parts we’re called to play and to bless others for the parts they’re called to play.
The bottom line is that I believe that nothing short of high levels of collaboration literacy will adequately address the many challenges we face today. That’s why I dearly love training people in collaboration literacy skills.
My Views on Capitalism
My dream is to live in a world in which everyone is productive to the best of their ability because they are following their calling, and one in which no one needs to worry about how they’ll afford being healthy, having food, having a place to live, being clothed, and enjoying some measure of comfort in life. I doubt that this world will come about in my lifetime. I believe that the best economic system that’s currently available for propelling us toward this world is socially responsible capitalism.
I believe that people have profoundly distorted understandings of what money and capitalism are.
I believe that money is portions of my life energy in a converted form. Nothing more and nothing less. I believe that people deserve to learn how to discover which portions of their life energy they’re most passionate about converting into money, how to do this in the most efficient least time consuming ways, and how to differentiate between enoughness and excess.
Regarding excess, I believe that greed is what gives money and power a bad name. Greed comes in two main forms: money greed and power greed. My perspective is that money is not inherently evil, power doesn’t inherently corrupt, and greed is a symptom not a cause. Money greed and power greed are symptoms of what I call a Faulty Happiness Formula.
The road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions nearly as much as it’s paved with the massively destructive belief that the more money or power one has, the happier one will be. My perspective is that happiness is an inside job and that it is a natural outgrowth of being who we are (authenticity), feeling bonded with others and Source (connection), and having positive influence in the world (impact). That’s the Sustainable Happiness Formula. My belief as well is that the only self-development that’s truly worthwhile strategically focuses on efficiently elevating and integrating authenticity, connection and impact.
About capitalism, the only version of it that many people know about is sociopathic capitalism. Many others confuse capitalism with debtism, which is borrowing against an uncertain future in order to prop up the illusion of a lifestyle in the present. I believe that government needs to regulate sociopathic capitalism and debtism far more tightly regulated than they currently are. (I also believe that education needs to focus far more on replacing the Faulty Happiness Formula with the Original Happiness Formula.
I also believe that the roots of the sustainable happiness formula and socially responsible capitalism were built into the original and utterly brilliant architecture of the United States.
- The Original Happiness Formula: Embedded in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution is an implicit understanding that the pursuit of happiness requires the freedom to be who we authentically are, the freedom to love others feel bonded with Source, and the responsibility to have positive impact on the world around us. This formula creates a healthy relationship with money and power. I believe it was a disastrous decision to replace the original happiness formula with the one that was embedded in the 1950s and misnamed The American Dream. It’s turned into The American Nightmare.
- Socially Responsible Capitalism: The original incorporation framework in the United States was that when a company’s incorporation papers were found by their state to be in order, they received a corporate charter for a limited number of years. They could renew that charter indefinitely, but each time they renewed they needed to demonstrate that they were profitable (that is, not in irresponsible forms of debt) and that they were not generating profits in ways that harmed the common good. I believe that it was a disastrous decision for our country to abandon this corporate chartering system.
In my experience, very few people know what socially responsible capitalism is, in part because they don’t understand what money is. For me, the heart of socially responsible capitalism is agreements in which I choose to acquire something that is being sold for an amount of money that I’ve self-responsibly decided is highly worthwhile for me to devote that amount of my converted life energy to acquire. I also wholeheartedly subscribe to the triple bottom line of corporate social responsibility (profits, people, planet): a company is only profitable in a socially responsible way when it makes money in ways that honor people and respect the planet. I believe that socially responsible capitalism can have immensely positive impacts on individuals and the fabric of society.
My Views on President Trump
I am neither a Never-Trumper nor an Always-Trumper, just as I’ve always been neither a Never-Republican or Never-Democrat. This is NOT because I refuse to take stands. I take them all the time. It’s because I refuse to become ensnared in immature either-or thinking.
I voted for neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. I viewed a vote for Trump as a vote for disrupting the status quo at a high cost and a vote for Clinton as a vote for maintaining the status quo at a high cost. Because I do not support the status quo I didn’t vote for Clinton. Because I didn’t and don’t respect the voice for “cleaning the swamp” that Trump brings, I didn’t vote for him either.
I would like to see the Republicans select an ethical status quo disruptor, and a consummate collaborator, as their nominee in the 2020 elections instead of President Trump. I would like to see the Democrats select an ethical status quo disruptor, and a consummate collaborator, as their nominee in the 2020 elections as well. This way, voters can choose between two versions of ethical status quo disruption while trusting that either candidate is equipped to help usher a new age of collaboration in the federal government. While I have virtually no faith that either party will make their selection based on these criteria, that is nonetheless what I would support.
Back to Trump, there are things that have happened during his presidency that I am pleased with, the main ones being unemployment continuing to decrease and portions of the economy continue to grow. Whether this is because of his policies, or because of the momentum that was already underway when he came into office, or because of a combination of both, I know the limits of my expertise well enough to know that I don’t have the wisdom to determine this. I am also pleased that his Presidency seems to have awakened at least a portion of today’s Silent Majority into speaking up again. I believe reactivation of the center-leaning electorate has been long overdue, and I believe that Trump has been far more successful at doing this than Clinton would have been. I have not decided whether I believe his ways of dealing with rogue leaders of other countries will do more harm than good over the long run.
On the other hand, I deeply oppose his ends-justifies-the-means tactics, his relentless lying, and the impacts of his words and actions on further polarizing and dividing our country. While I am delighted that he is overthrowing the status quo, I am disgusted by some of the ways he is doing this. What I view as his consistent lack of ethics is particularly repulsive to me. I question the extent to which he understands and supports the Constitution. I view President Trump as a toxic narcissist who is doing more damage than good and who weighs his own self-interests more heavily than any other consideration. I view him as serving ideological extremists and his own self-interests far more than serving the Constitution and everyday citizens. However, I remain unclear about whether he is doing this because of deeply held beliefs on his part, or because he’s being manipulated while imagining he is doing these things for the good of the country.
My Views on Conspiracies
I believe that hidden forces manipulate societal dynamics, economic conditions, and government policy AND I don’t believe that there’s a conspiracy lurking around every corner. I do believe that some elected officials, some media pundits, and some members of the intelligence, diplomatic, banking, communities, are part of the deep state AND I do believe that the majority are well-intended people who authentically want to do the right thing on behalf of We the People. I also believe that it’s wisest to look into the possibility of conspiracies only when all of the more obvious potential causes of a particular problem have authentically been eliminated.
As for the Rest
My focus is on underlying dynamics not specific issues. My mission is to focus on what I believe ties all of today’s issues together, through my core values, which center on love, equality, respect for all, collaboration among all, integrity, freedom, responsibility, and universal spiritual principles. I have therefore been transparent in this document specifically about my beliefs related to the positive impacts that I am called to have in the world.
That’s why this document mostly does not address specific hot button issues such as climate change, poverty, immigration, abortion, etc., or issues related to gender, race, culture, religion, and political ideology. However, I want to be clear that I passionately embrace multicultural diversity and collaboration, and I abhor racism, sexism, and all the other isms.
If specific issues are important to you, I am delighted for you to speak up in the world in the ways that call to you regarding those issues AND I ask you to understand that my focus is on what I believe is the root of the hyper-discord about specific issues, and how to move from discord to collaboration.
Who I Do and Don’t Invest My Energy In
I have no need to make anyone listen to me, agree with me, or learn from me. I’m a trainer not a crusader. I only invest my energy in people who are wise enough to know that they don’t see the whole picture, who are committed to learning from and collaborating with others who have different perspectives from theirs, and who want to learn the methods I’ve developed for helping this happen. In other words, I only invest my energy in people who are teachable — no matter what their beliefs or orientation — and not in people who are in rightness addiction about how wrong everyone is if they don’t see things the same way.
Do We Align or Misalign?
If you don’t resonate with part or all of what I’ve written, I’m truly okay with that. I’m good with you disagreeing with any or all of my perspectives, and I welcome you bringing possible blindspots to my attention. If you’re not open to even the possibility of expanding your perspectives, I have no need to try to change you. There’s only thing I’m not good with: being maliciously mislabeled and called names. So, if you want to cast me or my motivations in a nefarious light, keep it to yourself.
On the other hand, if you resonate with meaningful portions of what I stand for, here are some free resources for becoming more deeply acquainted with my perspectives, so you can decide whether there are good reasons for you to get in touch with me:
The “Wake Up, Wise Up, Step Up” Podcast: www.DrGruder.com/podcast
The FREEsponsibility Initiative for Social Repair: www.5GreatTruths.org
Human Potential 2.0 — The Future of Self-Development: www.DrGruder.com/hpmasterclass
The Reconciliation Roadmap — How to Have Difficult Discussions About Touchy Topics in Good Ways: www.DrGruder.com/rr
Who Am I? A Brief Bio For Those Who Wish to Know
- My PhD is in clinical and organizational development psychology.
- Radio-TV Interview Report named me America’s Integrity Expert. In one of his books, a multi-book author referred to me as “the world’s foremost leader on integrity.”
- Since 2008, my material on societal repair has been embraced across the political and ideological spectrums (other than the far extremists at both ends who I’m not trying to reach).
- The book awards I’ve received have been in the categories of “current events in politics and society,” “social change,“ “conscious business and leadership,” “health & wellness,” “mental health,” “transformation psychology,” and “self-help.”
- The personal awards I received include a leadership award being named after me, another award for visionary leadership, and a third award for culture creation.
- I provide keynotes, training (online and offline), consults, facilitation, mentoring, and media interviews on making integrity profitable, leaders elevated, collaborators fruitful, happiness sustainable, and society healthy.
- You’ll find more about the roles I fill and my other areas of expertise throughout this website.