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Forget conventional wisdom

“The first step to slaying a dragon is for one person to say, probably drunk in a bar, “It can be done.”—Alexandra Rowland

It’s important to remember there are ALWAYS different ways to look at things. And if ever there was a subject that could use some humor and playfulness, it’s — dare I say it — politics.

Yesterday, I was introduced to a politician who used art and creativity to make massive changes.  And since you gotta first hear about a possibility (remember the four-minute mile?) before you can embrace it, I decided to share a potential new way of governing.

Antanas Mockus, a Columbian philosopher, first made international headlines in 1993 when he was president of the National University of Colombia. To quiet a loud, unrelenting group of protestors, he ceremoniously dropped his pants. As he said, “innovative behavior can be effective when you run out of words.”

Public mooning didn’t go over well with the Board of Regents (or whatever they call university bureaucracy in the South American country), so he was asked to resign.

But within the year, he was back in the public spotlight running for mayor of Bogota. He was able to make massive change in the South American city using what he called a politician’s most powerful tool: imagination.

For example, when he was threatened by a leftist guerilla group, as many Colombian mayors were at the time, he donned the suggested bulletproof vest, but, as a symbol of confidence and even defiance, he cut a hole in the shape of a heart over his chest.

Another time, he walked the streets in spandex and a cape as Super Citizen, demonstrating the power of everyday average citizens.

When Bogota faced a water shortage, instead of the traditional rationing, he introduced voluntary conservation efforts, even running commercials of himself taking shorter showers. Instead of a busy signal on their phones, Bogotans got either his voice or Colombian pop star Shakira’s voice saying, “Thank you for saving water.” And it worked, decreasing water consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

He replaced corrupt traffic police officers with 420 mimes who “policed” driving behavior by pretending to be hurt or offended. Drivers began obeying traffic signals for the first time and within months, Bogota was able to dissolve the old, corrupt transit police force of 1800 officers. Dare I suggest a solution to police brutality?

Antanas was elected twice on a, get this, platform to increase taxes. During his second term, the City Council refused to approve the increase, so he invited citizens to pony up voluntary taxes and 63,000 households willingly paid an extra 10 percent.

Change IS possible, but we first have to be willing to surrender old, crusty policies and entrenched ways of doing things. We have to start looking for new solutions, to ask “What if?”

Antanas admits that some of his crazy schemes did not work. But he was able to deliver many promises because, as he pointed out, people began to cooperate. They had skin in the game. They began to have hope. They became astonished at their own power.

As he said, “Show me a city with a thousand problems, and I’ll show you 10,000 people who can solve them.”

So, while I normally eschew talking politics here on the blog, I thought this radical possibility of governance was worth pointing out.

I’ll end with this quote from filmmaker Adam Curtis, “Yes, change can be risky, but it’s also thrilling and might just lead to something extraordinary.” #222 Forever

Pam Grout is the author of 20 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, The Course in Miracles Experiment: A Starter Kit for Rewiring Your Mind (And Therefore Your World) that has just been turned into an app. Badass ACIM (badass-acim.com)

17 Responses

  1. Thank you Pam!! This is exactly the kind of thing I needed to read as I’ve put a personal ban on watching any news today. I love this so much I’m going to forward it to others whom I know will appreciate it.
    YES WE CAN!! 🙂
    Love you!

  2. HI Pam, love your emails and writings as always:) I was struck by your comment that didn’t;t seem entirely connected to the bit about the Colombian politician.

    See, just today I’ve been in a tough resistance spot with myself, struggling with committing to what I KNOW is true as an artist who helps people make massive personal and professional changes thru doing fluid art.

    And then I see your email. So it surely is a message and I am grateful😍 Though still curious who you’re referring to? Thanks much for taking a moment to answer this🙏🏻

    > > Yesterday, I was introduced to a politician who used art and creativity to make massive changes. >

    Michelle Wirta


  3. I have not turned on anything on television except Andy Griffith (black and white with Barney only)
    and TCM since the 3rd week in March. I was very poitical and very involved in our political system.
    That morning in March I watched Gov. Cuomo’s morning briefing on youtube. He had many encouraging things to say and good numbers about the virus in NYC. Later that evening not one
    network news show reported what he had said. Not one. Not even CBS who, in my naivete I thought was a real news network. I decided to search out institutions I trusted and look for the info that was not making it to our tvs or newspapers on main stream media. Boy, did I ever fall down the rabbit hole. It has been quite a year for me. I was pretty near a complete break down as I saw all the institutions and organizations I held in high honor crashing to the floor with corruption and angendas filled with greed and power everywhere I turned. We are in the middle of a Revolution. I don’t know how it is going to look but I know we will tear down every patriarchal system filled with greed and power drunken individuals and erect new systems that will work for us all. We will build a New Earth where compassion and love for all beings on this planet as our mission statement. Not bigger bottom lines for BigPharma, BigFood, BigTech and the Military- Industrial Complex alongside the politicians and lobbyists. I KNOW we can come up with a better system and this article is proof of that. Knowing it is possible is the first step. Thank you for this today Pam.

  4. Wow, was this ever timely! And here here to Kathleen Botsford’s words. If you can learn the truth than so can others. Maybe we can have a better world? Kathleen, thank you for looking.
    I was sitting here in despair. I know what’s going on, I see what’s going down, and I feel so incredibly helpless, how can I make a difference. I have no power, I have no money, I’m barely hanging on after this past year that seems like it is never going to end. I’ve always searched for the truth and I watch those around me blindly following such blatant lies and no one is standing up for the truth.
    Oh you should see the glares I get as I walk in to a store proudly NOT wearing a mask. And I tell myself, if this is their truth who am I to shatter it, all I can do is walk my path.
    Thank you Pam for sharing all of your joy with us, your words, your books, You 🙂

  5. Pam, where do I go to try to make the app work? To date it hasn’t- we’co can I contact for assistance so I can subscribe and use it?
    (I’ve attempted to subscribe; the email doesn’t arrive in my inbox.)

  6. Wow! What a cool and groovy politician! And how inspiring to know there are politicians like him out there! Thanks for sharing his story – wonderful evidence that your belief in radical governance IS possible. We CAN make a difference. Let’s remember that, and know that anything is possible if we believe it, even slaying dragons and radical governance. 😁

  7. Timely and thought provoking! Happy New Year!??

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  8. Pam— I have been doing Badass-acim & today, day 14, you discuss Tony Hsieh & what he is doing. He was such an inspiration! I followed him for years. Given the tense with which you wrote, it seemed as if you might not know he passed this past Thanksgiving weekend after being trapped in house fire. Figure he’s dancing & laughing with your daughter now. —Camille


    1. Thank you, Pam, for your extraordinary article. Many wonderful solutions are possible always.

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