19 episodes

Front and Center ... ‘From Political Battlefields to Cooperative Playing Fields’ ... Writing Our New Story Together

We are facing and embracing the irony of our times. We seem more divided than ever, and yet there is a great desire to work together to face our evolutionary challenges. Our "beacon", is what Charles Eisenstein describes as "the more beautiful world our hearts know as possible."

Steve and Mike will host conversations with leaders and inspirational ‘ordinary people.’ There will be: Visionaries, Heroes of the Heart, Illuminators, Solutionaries and Connectors. People who bring people from all sides together in purposeful dialogue so we can develop a shared vision of the world we want to live in.

Through these conversations, Steve Bhaerman and Michael Maxsenti will work to deepen and expand our understandings to help us get off the battlefields and onto playing fields of collaboration and communion. There we can create the new story that our hearts know is possible.

Front and Center with Steve and Michael Steve Bhaerman and Michael Maxsenti

    • Society & Culture

Front and Center ... ‘From Political Battlefields to Cooperative Playing Fields’ ... Writing Our New Story Together

We are facing and embracing the irony of our times. We seem more divided than ever, and yet there is a great desire to work together to face our evolutionary challenges. Our "beacon", is what Charles Eisenstein describes as "the more beautiful world our hearts know as possible."

Steve and Mike will host conversations with leaders and inspirational ‘ordinary people.’ There will be: Visionaries, Heroes of the Heart, Illuminators, Solutionaries and Connectors. People who bring people from all sides together in purposeful dialogue so we can develop a shared vision of the world we want to live in.

Through these conversations, Steve Bhaerman and Michael Maxsenti will work to deepen and expand our understandings to help us get off the battlefields and onto playing fields of collaboration and communion. There we can create the new story that our hearts know is possible.

    The Secret War to Occupy Your Mind

    The Secret War to Occupy Your Mind

    Conversation with Author and Propaganda Expert Mark Crispin Miller
    “Who needs conspiracy theories when we have con’s piracy facts?” -- Swami Beyondananda
    If you’re like most Americans I know, you are watching the train wreck that is American politics chugging down the track to oblivion, and wondering how it is that the likes of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln have devolved into the (dis)likes of Trump and Biden? How is it we have hunkered into angry rival political camps spending our fury on one another rather than coming together to face our multiple crises together? As the Swami has noted, we are no longer rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We are now throwing them at each other.
    If this toxic “shituation” has left you feeling baffled … disheartened … enraged, then you will find this week’s Front and Center conversation with author, NYU professor, and propaganda expert Mark Crispin Miller illuminating and elucidating, as he shines a light on how entire populations are manipulated, and don’t even know it. To quote Swami again, “The truth shall upset you free.”
    Mark Crispin Miller is a long-time faculty member of New York University, and author of numerous books on the political and cultural scene, including Boxed in: the Culture of TV … The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder … Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order … Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them) … and Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008.
    And while Mark didn’t exactly “write the book” on propaganda, he did write the introduction to the 2005 edition of Edward Bernays’ classic 1928 book, Propaganda. (For those who don’t know, Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and has been called “the father of modern public relations”. Perhaps his best-known stunt occurred at the Easter Parade in Manhattan in 1928, when he was in the employ of the American Tobacco Company, makers of Lucky Strike cigarettes. At an appointed moment, young women marching as suffragettes stopped, lit up cigarettes, held them aloft and proclaimed them “torches of freedom.” Prior to that time, it was considered unladylike to smoke. After that … well, you’ve come a long way, baby. For a deeper look at Bernays and his work, check out the 2002 BBC documentary, Century of the Self. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s)
    Curious to learn more?
    In this riveting and highly-informative conversation, Mark shares how a truth-teller becomes a “conspiracy theorist”, and how being branded as such led him to discover how and why that term was popularized. He walks us through the untold history (i.e., provable facts that have been conveniently left out of the narrative) of post-World War II American history. Mark says, “They call people conspiracy theorists so that no one will pay attention to what they're saying.” Speaking of how the term “conspiracy theorist” was used to delegitimatize those who questioned the official JFK assassination story, he says, “The purpose of the propaganda is to persuade people to ignore a threatening counter narrative. The tactic of dismissing dissidents as conspiracy theorists has worked like a charm, and put a lot of people to sleep.”
    Mark offers his own story of having his NYU class on propaganda de-platformed because he had the audacity to discuss how propaganda was being used to “sell” the official COVID narrative. And … he offers this caveat – no one, no matter how “smart” they are, are “infoolable”. And he cites his own experience and discomfort confronting his own cherished “truths”. He tells us, “Many things that I believed, and believed ardently, I came to discover were groundless. And I came to that discovery through the critical study of propaganda. You can actually learn a great deal about reality by studying pr

    • 1 hr 13 min
    A Commonsense Approach to the Gender Agenda

    A Commonsense Approach to the Gender Agenda

    Part 3 of conversation with Political and Community Activist Nancy Vogl
    “I believe in fundamental minority rights. Each of us has the right to be the individual we truly are.” -- Swami Beyondananda
    One of our missions at Front and Center is “finding the whole truth together”, and on a practical level it means unpacking narratives that have become too volatile to talk about. In part 2 of our interview with Nancy Vogl, we addressed Critical Race Theory (CRT), and how polarized misunderstandings have put our body politic on the “critical list.”
    In Part 3, we address the “gender agenda”, where individuals who don’t identify as M or F get to personally choose their own personal pronouns. To prepare for this conversation, we read the highly-controversial illustrated autobiography, “Gender Queer” which is graphic in more ways than one.
    To get a “bilateral” view, we invited Nancy, who has journeyed across the political spectrum, from Republican to gay activist to evolutionary revolutionary to Common Sense Party advisory board member to offer her wisdom and perspective.  
    As with critical race theory, gender engenders an even more passionate and heated response, where fear interferes with rational discourse. We have come a long way from the time when gays were confined to mental institutions and put in straight-jackets. Now that the narrative has flipped, fearful straight men are worried about being put into “gay jackets”. Seriously, sexual identity has always been a “touchy” issue, particularly when it comes to men’s concern about their own masculinity. As Nancy points out, when she was a girl in the late 50s and 60s, it was acceptable for her to be a tomboy. Not so for boys who wanted to play with dolls.  
    The book, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, who identifies as “nonbinary” is literally a journey of self-discovery of someone born female who never, ever identified that way. While the book outraged many – particularly because it is so graphic about “nonbinary” reality – Michael and I both found it eye-opening and compelling. Why SHOULDN’T someone be able to identify any way they like, and share their story and perhaps provide perspective and support for others going through the same identity struggle? Nancy characterized it as a “suicide prevention” book. “It was life changing to some of the young people who might be considering self-harm, who might be considering that they are such an anomaly that they don't deserve to exist.”  
    If you’re ready for an uncommonly commonsensical conversation that will liberate you from the “binary” views on all sides, please tune in.
    Gender Queer: A Memoir | by Maia Kobabe
    Leadership and the New Science: Learning about Organization from an Orderly Universe by Margaret J. Wheatley | Sep 1, 1992
    About “Courage” Our Front and Center Theme Song
    When I heard “Courage” performed live by Luke Anderson with Aea Luz and Jakob Pek at a gathering this past fall, I immediately recognized it as our theme song for Front and Center. ~Steve
    Courage, courage, courage like a lion
    Strength of the heart, strength of the spirit to rely on
    To truly lift ourselves above the political battlefields so we can populate and animate the new cooperative playing fields requires strength of heart, and strength of spirit. It takes courage to rise above tribal beliefs, to venture beyond the familiar habits of separation to see the bigger picture. And our courage will encourage others to do the same.
    You can find out more about Luke Anderson’s music here:
    http://www.danceawake.com/

    • 39 min
    A Commonsense Approach to Critical Race Theory

    A Commonsense Approach to Critical Race Theory

    Part 2 of Conversation with Political and Community Activist Nancy Vogl
    “Not only do hot-button issues activate the base, they activate the basest of the base.’” -- Swami Beyondananda
    One of our missions at Front and Center is “finding the whole truth together”, and on a practical level it means unpacking narratives that have become too volatile to talk about. One such issue is “critical race theory”. To get a “bilateral” view of this hot button issue, we invited Nancy Vogl, who has journeyed across the political spectrum, from Republican to gay activist to evolutionary revolutionary to Common Sense Party advisory board member to offer her wisdom and perspective. As Nancy tells us, in the case of Critical Race Theory (CRT), there has been plenty of heat, and precious little light. She addresses the widespread belief that CRT, supposedly being taught in our public schools, appears to blame white people living now for what happened 200 years ago. That racism is endemic to the United States, no one can deny. And because people of color are easy to identify, they are more easily separated out. As a white kid growing up in a mostly-black neighborhood, I could take the subway to Manhattan and blend in. Not true for my black friends.
    As Nancy points out, it’s not CRT itself, but how it is being used to “foment divisiveness and fear.” She continues, “Nobody wants whites to feel guilty. And … people of color and those who've been marginalized by the predominantly male patriarchy want some acknowledgement that that in fact has been done.”  The problem is, real conversations haven’t been happening. The issue – pro or con – becomes a political grenade to lob over the wall to the other side, that is used to gather votes or raise money. “And we'll have these conversations,” Nancy says, “when more and more people are tired of the polemics and the criminalization of another point of view.”
    If you’re ready for an incisive, compassionate, truth-telling conversation that will liberate you from the “binary” views on all sides, please tune in.
    About “Courage” Our Front and Center Theme Song
    When I heard “Courage” performed live by Luke Anderson with Aea Luz and Jakob Pek at a gathering this past fall, I immediately recognized it as our theme song for Front and Center. ~Steve
    Courage, courage, courage like a lion
    Strength of the heart, strength of the spirit to rely on
    To truly lift ourselves above the political battlefields so we can populate and animate the new cooperative playing fields requires strength of heart, and strength of spirit. It takes courage to rise above tribal beliefs, to venture beyond the familiar habits of separation to see the bigger picture. And our courage will encourage others to do the same.
    You can find out more about Luke Anderson’s music here:
    http://www.danceawake.com

    • 34 min
    What America Do You Want to Live In? A Story of Political Evolution

    What America Do You Want to Live In? A Story of Political Evolution

    Conversation with Political and Community Activist Nancy Vogl“Even Jesus believed in evolution. Otherwise, he would have said, ‘Now don’t do a thing until I return.’” -- Swami Beyondananda
    As per a recent Atlantic Monthly article, the new phrase describing America’s ever-deepening political divide is “pernicious polarization”. That old phrase “I wouldn’t want my son / daughter to marry one”, that used to apply to someone of another race, now applies to someone of a different political persuasion. Let that one sink in, folks. While we as a society have largely accepted racial, ethnic and religious intermarriage, that toxic “othering” has now been transferred to the political divide, which has now taken on the feel of a “religious war.”
    So, if we are to rehumanize one another, get off the political battlefield and onto the cooperative playing field, put government on the side of the people, and write our new story together, where do we turn for guidance and wisdom?
    This week on Front and Center, we air part one of a three-part conversation with long-time political activist and community educator Nancy Vogl. Why? Because at a time of deepening polarization, the story of her own political evolution offers a clue as to how it can be done. Growing up in a Republican family in Los Angeles County, she recounts a moment where her dad rethought his political stance, and this open-mindedness offered Nancy a living example of political evolution. When she came out as gay in her late teens, Nancy had her parents’ support. She was a founding member of one of the first feminist rock bands of the 1970’s Bay Area Women’s music scene, and played bass at the First International Women’s Rock Festival in Germany in 1981.
    A poster she saw while on tour of the Midwest that posed the provocative question, “What America do you want to live in?” led her to study with James and Grace Lee Boggs, Detroit-based political activists and “evolutionaries.” The book they authored, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, was decades ahead of its time, pointing out that ideologies outlive their usefulness (or in too many cases, uselessness) because their rigidity leaves no room to encompass new information and perspective. “One view is never going to be the answer to anything,” says Nancy. “When you harness the wisdom from different perspectives and different experiences, you increase the capacity for change because you've gotten the best ideas and you create a new whole.” 
    Taking what she learned from vigorous and rigorous conversations with the Boggs, she chose to turn the ideal into the real deal working with high school students, linking young people with “authentic community activities'. She served on the State Superintendent’s Task Force on Service Learning for the California Department of Education and as Youth Service Director for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County. She was Co-Director and Leadership Coach for Sonoma County’s LGBTQI support group, and represented Northern California as a Rotary Foundation Peace Ambassador in Barcelona, Spain.
    She is currently on the Advisory Board of the California Common Sense Party, where she is applying her broad political perspective and wisdom to bring the awakening people of California together around common values and common cause, and a commonly-sensed common sense consensus – we the people have been divided and nearly conquered, and now we have the choice to “unite and thrive.”
    Please tune in for this heart-opening and mind-expanding interview.
    You will also want to listen to her upcoming interviews, where she sheds light on two controversial and polarizing issues – the so-called Critical Race Theory (CRT), and gender identification. One of our early Front and Center guests, Randall Paul, President of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, offered what should be the standard and challenge of journalism – seeking

    • 36 min
    The Common Sense Party -- An Uncommonly Sensible Way to Get Government on the Side of The People

    The Common Sense Party -- An Uncommonly Sensible Way to Get Government on the Side of The People

    Conversation with Former US Congressman and CSP Founder Tom Campbell“We have a deeply-divided body politic. Half the people believe our system is broken. The other half believe it is fixed.” -- Swami Beyondananda
    When asked if we need a new third party in the United States, our cosmic comic uncommontator Swami Beyondananda answered, “No. We need a new FIRST party in this country.” 
    And … what if there were a “third force” that could transform our system from a dysfunctional two-party duopoly to a thriving multi-party system?
    Our conversation with former U.S. Congressman and Common Sense Party founder Tom Campbell offers up an uncommonly sensible common sense approach to get government on the side of the people. And Tom Campbell is no sidelines commentator. He served five terms in the US Congress, and two years in the California State Senate. He was finance director for the state of California, and Director of the Bureau of competition for the Federal Trade Commission. He earned a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, and a law degree magna cum laude from Harvard. He was a White House fellow, and a US Supreme Court law clerk, a tenured law professor at Stanford, Dean of the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, was founding Dean of the Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. Currently, he is professor of law and professor of economics at Chapman.
    In this rich conversation, Tom brings his experiences – and frustrations – as a legislator dedicated to working across party lines to bring constructive policies that benefit We the People, not the special interests, and not just the party elites. You’ll learn why legislators in states like California where there is one-party monopoly, CANNOT deviate from their party line, and why this leaves the majority of voters unrepresented by either party. As an insider, he offers telling examples of this uncommonly senseless system where rigid party stances prevent so many good things from happening …and the way issues were resolved in the past that can be revived in the future.
    He presents the Common Sense Party as a truly “radical” alternative, radical meaning “getting to the root of.” Instead of platform planks designed to cater to special interests, all platform items will have the approval of three quarters of the party members, giving ordinary citizens not just a vote every two years, but a VOICE in setting policy priorities. Above all, the Common Sense Party is dedicated to collaborating to solve the real problems we face as opposed to staying on the partisan battlefield where regardless of which party wins, the people will lose. Imagine … instead of having the default choice of voting for the “lesser evil” every two years, the voters of California will be able to work for the GREATER GOOD together.
    As Tom explains, this experiment is beginning in California, both because it is currently a one-party monopoly, and because the “open primaries” mean that in overwhelmingly blue or overwhelmingly red districts, two members of the same party might find themselves opponents in the general election. By supporting the candidate that most represents the independent, common sense approach, the Common Sense Party can be a powerful influence, even in districts where they aren’t running their own candidate.
    “Instead of being just another political party that runs candidates every two years,” Tom says, “the Common Sense Party offers an ongoing dynamic process for support of positions and supportive of candidates. It's a way that invites people who would otherwise be excluded … and a new way to govern that reflects the needs of the people.”
    If you’re ready to entertain a constructive alternative to the destructive status quo – a “party for the rest of us” – please tune into this informative and heartening conversation, and find out how YOU can participate.
    The Common Sense Party website: www.cacommonsense.org
    Ful

    • 1 hr 4 min
    EXCERPTS - Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow into a Better Version of Itself

    EXCERPTS - Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow into a Better Version of Itself

    Conversation with Integral Philosopher Steve McIntosh “Instead of the familiar political tug-of-war pulling us apart, we need a tug of peace where we all pull together in the same direction.” -- Swami Beyondananda
    In this “bite-size excerpt” from our longer interview with Integral philosopher, Steve McIntosh, author of Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow into a Better Version of Itself, we explore the deeper reasons for our political “hyper-polarization”, and why “centrism” won’t bring us together. How can we move from “stuck polarization” to healthy polarization?  How do we evolve our political culture? And how do we expand inclusivity even further to include different worldviews? Find out how “transcending” the current dualistic forms can be “trance-ending.”
    Steve McIntosh, author of Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow into a Better Version of Itself, has been a leader in the integral philosophy movement for decades. He is president and co-founder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution think tank, which focuses on the cultural roots of America's political problems. He is also co-author with John Mackey and Carter Phipps of the book, Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity through Business. He has authored three previous books on Integral philosophy … The Presence of the Infinite, Evolution’s Purpose, and Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution. 
    There were a lot of concepts thrown brought up. If you are like me, you will want to read the full transcript to further think about what you heard and digest it. Here is a link to do so.
    Article referenced: "Why Centrism Fails”
    The Institute for Cultural Evolution’s online magazine
    The Institute for Cultural Evolution’s existing headquarters website https://www.culturalevolution.org/

    • 16 min