Reader’s Forum — Jennifer Bullock

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

— Albert Einstein

Holding on to the belief that the happenings of our lives are knowable can get us into deep trouble”

— Lois Holzman

Most of us agree that the way we are living with one another can be stuck at best, destructive at worst. This entrenchment is most obvious in our political system that is undemocratically controlled by two parties, even though 44% of the electorate consider themselves independent. The two-party system currently running (ruining?) our country is not by the consent of the governed. I am so fulfilled to be working and playing with others in Pennsylvania to change the rules of engagement so that the people can have a seat at the table, or better yet build some new tables that are more inclusive, sturdy, humane, and fair.

That’s my spiel*. But not everyone agrees with election reforms, like opening the primaries in all 50 states. The usual tools of arguing who is right and who is wrong, spewing facts and figures, us-ing and them-ing, does not work for moving us forward in a way that is transformational.

Jenn Bullock and Jessie Fields petitioning with supporters in Pennsylvania.

The Overweight Brain by Dr. Holzman gives us an accessible path to creating new tools for living together. It’s an inspiration to me in my work as a political and community activist. The Overweight Brain is a guidebook for how to maneuver as a progressive through a world that indoctrinates us to see two party rule as the norm / the only way / the right way. Dr. Holzman helps us see possibilities for creating new forms of living by stressing how critical it is to be curious, process oriented and relating to each other as becoming, not fixed.

For example, two powerful politicians, former heads of the Republican and Democratic State Parties in PA, used to be opposed to opening the primaries. This year, both testified and wrote op-eds in strong favor of open primaries. We are not fixed. This evolution came in part by engaging in long term conversations among people of differing views. This evolution was not knowable.

The Overweight Brain helps me tremendously. For example, I was recently at my father’s 80th birthday dinner. He is a passionate liberal Jimmy Carter – Jessie Jackson Democrat who strongly believes the only path for progressive change is through Democratic Party rule. I am a passionate independent who wants to dismantle the oversized power of the parties. At dinner, he unexpectedly puts (kind of slams) on the table a letter to the editor I wrote in our hometown newspaper advocating for open primaries. He started to critique the points I made in the letter. I ‘knew’ what was going to transpire next, this was my cue to defend myself and the independent cause.

Instead, I summoned Dr. Holzman’s words:

Embracing unknowability is a way to live a ‘yes, and…’ life. It can lower the negative temperature of your conversations”

The Overweight Brain, p. 173

Instead of arguing back, I asked him some questions, learned something about his perspective, and thanked him for his thoughts. He responded by sharing he was proud of me and the work of Independent Pennsylvanians. We didn’t have to know anything, just had to be open to playing the yes, and game together.

Thank you, Dr. Holzman, for this powerful treasure on living in new ways together.

#votingrightsforall #letallvotersvote yes, and #Ilovepeoplewhodisagreewithme

*Spiel = originates from the German word spielen, meaning “to play.”

Melida Davila, Nichele Richardson and Barb Patrizzi petitioning in Philadelphia.

Jennifer Bullock is the Director of Independent Pennsylvanians and a social therapist in Philadelphia. She serves on Independent Voting’s Eyes on 2020 Cabinet.


Politics for the People

Conference Call With Author

Dr. Lois Holzman

Sunday, December 8th

7pm EST

Call in number: 605-313-5156

Passcode: 767775#


The Overweight Brain

How our obsession with knowing keeps us from getting smart enough to make a better world

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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