A WikiCast post in Above The Chaos
Release Date: 2023.09.14
Host: Jordan Nicholas Sukut
Guest(s): Bill Larson - Attorney and Advisor
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Our host Jordan Nicholas and attorney Bill Larson share stories and background on why they are so deeply invested in the issues, principles, and values Lionsberg is addressing.
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Bill Larson: So we're marching through town, and when the people saw us coming, they just divided like the Red Sea parting. And we walked right up to the barricades. The was on a square. We walked past everybody, and the police opened the barricades. And we walked right up to the steps of the Parliament and waiting at the top was a woman who happened to be the Chief Legal Counsel to Parliament. she was the consultant on their new Constitution. And they were just debating it. So we were invited to come in.
Everybody knew that the revolution had just, kicked off and it was getting dangerous and people were fleeing Iran. This is in the late summer, early fall of 78. And Herb comes up and he says, Bill, I just want you to know it is never more spiritual to stay than to flee. And he turns and walks away. Okay, whatever that means. And so I went to Iran and it was hard to get there.
Jordan Nicholas: Hello, everybody. Welcome again to Above the Chaos. I'm back with Bill Larson for round three. Bill, thanks for being here again. Bill, again, for anybody just tuning in is a wonderful attorney and strategic advisor that's been one of the principal co creators of Everything we've been working on in terms of infrastructure and legal and governance and technology Foundations for this moment in history over the last year.
So today we thought we'd get into a little bit of story talking about how each of us came to Care so deeply that we've been willing to invest and sacrifice what we have in the project to date talking about some of the conditions facing our world that are Constitute some of the acceptance criteria or needs and problems and opportunities that whatever solution we're converging towards needs to satisfy and then hopefully if we have time getting a little bit into some of the structure and mechanics of the infrastructure we've built and some of the solutions groundwork we've tried to lay to meet this moment in history.
So Bill, welcome. How are you doing today?
Bill Larson: Good morning, Jordan. I'm doing fine. So far,
Jordan Nicholas: So far. So Bill you had some really interesting experiences in your life that led you to have a Very unusual amount of care and wisdom and concern around the issues of human organization socioeconomic justice, governance democracy, decision making why is structuring of multi generational economic transitions and a very interesting and diverse array.
So tell me about tell me about being in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Bill Larson: Yeah, a couple lawyer friends of mine, connections, got messages from two people in Bulgaria. Both at two different channels. One was the son of a... Former Supreme Court Justice under the Communist regime. And the son was in law school, and his father had died of cancer, and so he had inherited the family apartment above Stalin, no, Lenin Boulevard in, in, in Sofia. He asked us to come and lecture at the law school on democracy, freedom, and Christianity. There was like this hunger for something different. This was in 1991, the wall had just fallen. We ended up, I gathered a hundred pounds of books on law, from the American perspective and business books textbooks mainly, to bring to the law school.
I got a bunch donated from Pepperdine Law School and in different places. Met, we met over there Yeah, or I met one of the guys on the way and the other guy flew separately. And we had interviews lined up. And this young guy, Rado, Radoslav, was very outgoing. He knew everybody. His father had been so important that he just knew everybody. So we went to law school and One day, we were, I had presented all these books and they were happy and we were invited to a class and one of the three of us, Sam Erickson, liked to talk about the intersection of law and faith and democracy and all kinds of things and he used Venn diagrams to show how things interrelated and he brought in his Christian faith And one of the guys in that classroom, unbeknownst to us, had been very much searching for hope and faith.
And when he heard that, he decided he was going to follow Jesus. It was, we had no idea that this happened. And then, Rado said, okay, we got to go now we have to go to the parliament. They're debating the new constitution. We had and then us in our, suits and coats and briefcases. We marched from this old law school right in downtown. The, while we were sitting in that classroom, we had the windows were open. It was actually warm. And there were shouts of whistles and police sirens and people shouting. Slogans, and we didn't know what was going on, and Router said they're having demonstrations at the Parliament.
We're going to go there. So we're marching through town, and when the people saw us coming, they just divided like the Red Sea parting. And we walked right up to the barricades. The was on a square. We walked past everybody, and the police opened the barricades. And we walked right up to the steps of the Parliament and waiting at the top was a woman who happened to be the Chief Legal Counsel to Parliament. she was the consultant on their new Constitution. And they were just debating it. So we were invited to come in. And it turned, we looked like the doo dah parade. Marching along the streets with our briefcases. And just very solemn. We didn't know what the people thought about that, but they, seemed to that we were there.
We didn't know what they thought we were. We were the only people in Parliament able to watch it. No one was allowed in. It was a closed session. So we sit up in the balcony, and this attorney is leaning over and quietly giving us commentary. Oh, they're saying this. Oh, they're saying that. And there was all this heated debate, and people were getting up to speak for and against different aspects.
And, of course, I... Didn't speak any Bulgarian I could read a few signs and read a little bit of Cyrillic alphabet. That's it. And, so at the end there was a vote. they voted to pass the Constitution. And we leave. We were in there for, I don't know, a couple hours. We walk out. The people are just milling around. The word had apparently got out that the, Constitution had passed, I don't remember exactly, a long time ago. And there were no protests, people were quiet. There was a happiness in the air. And we proceeded to go about our business and had other meetings with members of the government ministries and non profit organizations and leaders.
And, then we left. Now, one of our Team members was an attorney, Roger Sherard, from Washington State. And later, I went and moved my family up to Washington and got admitted in the Washington Bar and I worked with Roger. And then years later, I ended up moving back to Southern California. And finally, word came down, this is years later, Roger shared what had happened. Because he had become friends with a few people in the current ruling party at that time, this is years later. And the guy who had decided to follow Jesus, in that classroom, with the flies buzzing around, the windows open to the street, and the sounds of shouting, and sirens, He had become a prominent lawyer and he had become the legal counsel to the ruling party. And it turns out that once they took power, they went into the secret archives and opened them up. And there were notes that had been left there by generals and party communist officials, former officials who wanted to take back power, They were planning a coup. And they had said, we have to foment some kind of a, an insurrection in order to justify rolling in with weapons and heavy equipment. And so they were counting on the students because they had plans in the student organizations. They were counting on the students to riot, and that would give them pretext. But we found out that when the students, massed by the thousands, saw Americans looking like Harvard doo dah parade guys, they thought we were election observers. And they decided, oh, let's not riot. Let's just see what happens. Maybe the Constitution will pass and we'll get what we want. So they stayed quiet. And these frustrated generals had nothing. to link their coup to. And so this guy had found this information and he was quite prominent. He, let it be known to different people, especially people who had been involved way back then. That's
Jordan Nicholas: Amazing.
Bill Larson: you, never know where, if you're at the right place at the right time, you don't even know if you're at the right place at the
Jordan Nicholas: Yeah. Okay, so you ended up being able to travel around and and teach and speak at a very interesting and, crucial time and see some of those, tensions and forces. Tell me briefly about about being in Iran at the, Iran, excuse me, at the time of the revolution.
Bill Larson: Yeah, this was years before that. This was back 17 years before, or something like that. 1978, 79. I had friends who were basically Christian missionaries in Iran, and they had gotten in as English teachers. They had masters in English, and they were teaching English to helicopter pilots. That were flying the Bell Helicopter.
So they came in under Bell Helicopter and they were working for the government, essentially teaching English to the military. So they asked me if I'd like to come. I had always been interested in that part of the world and I wanted to study Farsi. I said sure. And I had, back in college I had a teacher who taught Jungle medicine.
I wasn't studying medicine, was
sort of an anthropological, medical kind of an intro, learning how to do some emergency things when you don't have any medical facilities. And he had been a missionary in Vietnam, and he had to flee the communists with his family. And his son had become one of my best friends. And so I was in... He went to the same church as we did, and Herb Billman was his name.
He was a real eccentric. He had bottle, coke bottle glasses, and he was, he must have been on the spectrum, because he wouldn't look you in the eyes, and he was very blunt, and he would look around. But he walks up to me. I'm set to go to Iran. It had been some months of preparation, and things were getting risky.
Everybody knew that the revolution had just, kicked off and it was getting dangerous and people were fleeing Iran. This is in the late summer, early fall of 78. And Herb comes up and he says, Bill, I just want you to know it is never more spiritual to stay than to flee. And he turns and walks away. Okay, whatever that means. And so I went to Iran and it was hard to get there. I had to wait in Italy for, with some friends who were in the military in top secret communications and with a young family. I had known them years before and Jim would come home from work and say, No, the airport's not open yet.
Don't go yet. I had a ticket with Pan Am. It was an open ticket. So I was supposed to get from Gaeta, Italy up to Rome. And finally he comes one day and he says, the airport's open. You got to leave tomorrow morning at five. And I, okay. And the next morning I grabbed my backpack and my violin. Cause I, I carried my violin.
I thought, who knows? Maybe I'll need my violin in Rome during in. In in Iran during the revolution. So I get on what I thought was the fast train. It was the express train. They might've just called it the expresso train because it stopped at every little cafe along the way that I'm never going to make it.
I have to be there at one and here it takes hours to get up to Rome. I get into Rome and. And there's a bus to get to the airport. And I, they weren't going to let me on the bus. I said, I'm going. And I just took my backpack and threw it up in the back. And I ran around the front. I squeezed on the front holding my violin.
And I stand there. The bus driver just oh, okay. And we go off to the airport. And I get off thinking I'm getting at the right gate. And I, go to the ticket window and they said, no, you won't need to go over there. And I went over there and this is the, flight was supposed to leave. And I, quickly get my stuff. I, they took my luggage and it went zooming right out through a little trap door on the conveyor belt. And then she said, go that way. And I went and I come to this long, this big stairway. And at the top, everybody's turning right. And I'm thinking, okay, I got to go up there and go to the gate. And I get to the top, and there is a lady in a leopard suit, a skin tight leopard suit, standing there. And she looks in my eyes, and she points to her right, which would be my left. There's no one going that way. I didn't see any signs for gates that way. But something inside me just said, Turn, follow what she says.
I get up to the top, I go that way, I walk through this empty hallway, and there is a door on the far side of it, and there's a stewardess standing by this door. It was a place where a plane could come up real close to the building, and it was a doorway to a Pan Am 747, and this flight attendant looks across at me, and she beckons to run.
I go running over there, She pulls me in the door. She didn't even ask me where I was going. And they closed the door behind me. Here I am on a, one of the last Pan Am flights in the Mideast. And, I, it was the right flight. I sit down, and, backing up, I had been, and this is, the community thing comes from this thing I'm next going to say.
I had been a part of a group my parents were involved in. that wanted to build a community. They were gonna, they were gonna quit their jobs, they were gonna buy businesses, and they were gonna form this community where they had shared all things in common, and they would take the money that they made and reach out with purpose as Christians in the world.
But they were gonna make this business oriented community. And I was helping them with that. I was helping them find different ways of building housing that's earth sheltered. Here I'm in my twenties and I'm getting this vision for this stuff. And in that group, one of the guys, just before I left Iran, this is just before Herb stopped me in the church foyer and told me that it's okay to flee. One of the guys prayed for me. And he prayed that before my feet touched the ground in Iran, I'd know where to go. And I had no idea why this was happening. I just felt yeah, this sounds good. When I got to I went to see friends of Portugal. See, I'm backing up on my long chain of flights before I got the on the flight in Rome.
I met with some people that my former roommate had known. And he, cause he had my, he was from Portugal. And his father was a pastor, and they had some friends, and the friends came over one day while I was in Lisbon and said we have some, our daughter and son in law in Iran, they work for Iran Air.
Could you bring them Christmas presents? And back in those days, you just accepted packages from people and carted it on planes and hauled them off to other people. You could walk into into gates without a ticket. You walk on a plane, they say, Oh no, you can't be here any longer, you have to go.
It's like being on a ship. This is way back. And I'd gotten these gifts and they gave me the address for their kids. So fast forward, here I'm finally on this plane, Pan Am plane, heading to Iran. And we finally land in Iran, after a stop in Turkey, surrounded by machine guns. And, we land and it's night. And I'm just, we're all getting off, and you have to get off and go down this ladder on both sides of the 747. I was toward the front, so I had to go down the front one. And people were cramming in the aisle. Some returning expats who were thinking maybe it'll calm down, we can work again. Some Iranians coming back home. No tourists. This was a scary flight. They were all talking death talk. Maybe we'll get shot. And I'm, so I lean over to this American couple returning, had a little kid with them, an older couple, they had probably had a kid at a young age, career diplomats, I said, excuse me how hard is the phone system to use here?
And they said, what? You've never been here? I said, no. And they said who are you going to meet? I said I'm going down to Isfahan, but in the meantime, I have an address of some people I'm supposed to meet up with. They said where's the address? And I look at, I show them this paper, and they said, You'll never make it there before curfew.
You'll be shot. Everyone's being shot who's out after 9 o'clock. And this plane has been landing, it's landing at 8. 15. And I, so I'm thinking maybe God will miraculously provide some place for me. And I'm and I'm not thinking about that prayer that guy prayed. We're getting out, we're squeezing out, a bus loads up, off it rushes. Then another bus comes, and people are cramming in. And I'm finally coming down the stairs. And the last second, these people looked agitated. They had turned around to some friends of theirs and said, Oh, you coming back too? You coming back to die? And they were laughing, it was gallows humor they were laughing about it.
And then they would say, This guy's never been here before. They'd say, what is he crazy? And I would just smile and keep bunching forward, and so we get down to the bottom of the stairs, and just before my foot touches the pavement, this couple, in all their agitation, finally they just blurt out, say, if you don't have a place to stay tonight, come stay with us.
We have a big place, plenty of room. I said thank you. My hand, my foot touches the ground. And I went, I stayed with them. And then we get into the terminal and they say, Oh, by the way, they give you a piece of paper. It looks like nothing much. It has a little stamp on it. They said you can't get out of the country if you don't keep that in your passport.
So I thanked them for the info. I didn't know any of that stuff. So I stick in my passport, go to their house. Eventually I do, I hear the gunshots and all that at night. Make it on a flight down to Isfahan and it was with my friends. I ended up teaching violin in the Armenian quarter. Walking past tanks to get to the house, so that was an adventure that taught me, you, if there's something at the heart of what you do that is deep, that is, that calls you out to something way beyond yourself, you just gotta pay attention to that. I
Jordan Nicholas: Yeah.
Bill Larson: I, God's hand was on me,
Jordan Nicholas: yeah, I wanted to take time for a few of those stories. They, Bill alluded to three different amazing times in his life where he was at the point of societies in transformation, let's say post the fall of the Berlin Wall during the Iranian Revolution and then in the on the ground experiments with his family of trying to forge a Different kind of community and way of life and freedom and autonomy and community all, all at the same time.
So we had a an amazing meeting of the minds here five years ago, that was informed by, decades of previous thought. I want to share just a little bit about the decades of, previous thought that informed my quest that led me to reach out to Bill. It might sound odd to many people, but from the time I was, from the time I can remember, let's say 10 or 12 when the memories elucidate themselves, I was deeply, consciously aware that during my lifetime, there would be a existential struggle for the future of humanity and humanity.
Human organization and our way of being on planet earth, and that would unfold along the lines of something like a profound spiritual battle, let's call it a profound collision between two different domain, independent patterns or ways of being essentially vying for the hearts and souls and minds of the human species, let's say, and so that Carrying that is a strange thing.
It's a strange thing. And I felt like God had spoken to me in no uncertain terms about... Let's say that essentially being by my purpose and reason for being here. And so walking with that over the course of years maybe sometimes that feels like maybe sometimes that feels or sounds to those around you like you're a little crazy.
Maybe that's hard to know how to grapple with when you're when your consciousness is 10 or 12 years old or 13 or 14 years old. I fell in love with my wife when she was 13 and I was 14. And our early relationship we, still actually have, she has maybe somewhere between 200 and 500 letters that I wrote her from that period of time.
And she pulled those out just recently after we moved and it was amazing to go back and read those. But at 14, at 15, my entire consciousness was Geared and pouring itself out to this woman. I was falling in love with about this mission and calling in life and the struggle for the future of humanity and the need for a massive spiritual awakening and revival that could awaken and reunite the forces of goodwill around and under under God for this moment in history.
And so we ended up walking together and praying together and communing together over many years and essentially setting up our whole lives around our shared understanding of this mission and purpose. And God was kind enough along the way to bring so many external It, again, it may sound weird to people that, that don't grow up in open communities of spirituality or faith, but there's there's something that we call prophecy, and that many many communities call that.
But God was kind enough to... To bring along the way all these external voices or confirmations that would arise and speak things out and into and over our lives and in very profound and unusual ways that you understand that the time can't be coincidental and are, too many triangulated confirmations from too many directions.
And so sometime around that, 10 or 12 years old, maybe junior high timeframe. I was absolutely captivated by the book of Proverbs and and in the opening chapters of that wisdom is personified and Solomon's pouring out his exhortations to go seek wisdom above everything else because no gold or silver or jewels or anything you could desire could ever compare with wisdom.
The immense worth of wisdom and so throughout, throughout scripture, we then come to understand that wisdom is there present with God in the creation and that, that, wisdom or the logos of the universe, the logic is. Flowing from the heart and mind of God, right? And so that search towards wisdom and truth and God is all the same directionality.
And that deep pursuit of so I guess I'm trying to say that those two things together, like that, that understanding that maybe during my lifetime The world would shake in deeply profound and unprecedented ways and that maybe the preparation for that was the unbridled pursuit of truth and wisdom basically set my journey off and I don't know how successfully I Executed it, but the other primary way that I responded to that
Whatever you want to call it, whatever that was that I was carrying was to essentially try to take on as much responsibility as anybody would entrust me with at every phase of life. Cause it was like, okay, you're if there's this thing coming. And if you're going to need to be as capable and competent as you could possibly be when that comes, then what do you want to do?
You want to take on as much responsibility as you possibly can every day, try to prepare yourself in every way that you can, while trying not to do anything that will permanently disqualify you from the mission at hand. And so that set off a, Decades long journey of my, who, the woman who would become my wife and I working together to, to pursue this.
That journey of taking on as much responsibility as anyone would entrust me with led me into heavy civil construction. My, my grandfather had started one of the largest earth moving companies on the west coast of the United States and had been involved in a lot of the development in Southern California of the whole boom through the 70s, 80s, 90s that really shaped the way that all looks today.
And he had retired from the company and was working mostly in real estate had turned the company into an employee owned corporation and turned it over to eight or ten of the guys that were working for him. So there was no family working in the company, but he was, I think I was working at the bagel store in the mornings and doing some tutoring in the afternoons and working at the ice cream store at night.
And he came into the ice cream store one time and he said, okay, laddie, it's about time you get something real on your resume. And so if you want I'll, call the guys at the office and maybe you can go in there and maybe if you're lucky, you can work for free or they'll pay you minimum wage to do plan takeoffs and help out.
And so I. I started going into the office there and doing plan takeoffs and turning a little bit with the company I'd started and it was it was an amazing privilege and quite An awkward position to be in for a, variety of reasons, I kept trying to, essentially get away from building because I had these other ideas of what I was going to, what I was going to pursue, but that principle of continuing to take on as much responsibility as anyone would offer me with every year or two, when it came to the next transition point, there was always a order of magnitude greater, Responsibility and difficulty in the challenges I was being offered in heavy civil construction than anywhere else I could go.
And so that led to running a series of projects and larger projects and joint ventures. I eventually set out and started my own company and It was, that progression that kind of happened to keep me in building that led me to the profound realization that the entire way that I had watched our government and economy and their interactions and trade unions and all these things, right?
Over 20 years, I just saw the depths of brokenness and corruption. And by... Whatever it was seven years ago, 2017, maybe I'm out and I now have a company and we're having a reasonable amount of success and trying to hire lots of people. And so as soon as I ended up out of the structures that I was trying to exit from and grappling with these issues on my own.
It was driven home immediately how wrongly structured it was that I had become the sole owner of a successful, young, growing company composed of another 100 co workers or whatever it was at the time that included it. The beautiful thing about heavy civil construction is you, get to interface every day with a massive cross section of society from the developers and the large national corporations and the bankers and the financers and the insurance people all the way down through executives and project management to the hardest working boots on the ground mechanics, wrenching on engines and the whole cross section.
And that all has to get, Harmonized to work together effectively. And as I would go out and visit the job sites over the previous 20 years you'd watch the, laborers and the equipment operators and the mechanics who would often live 2, 3 hours from the job site who would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning drive for hours, be executing the, most difficult and demanding jobs that were out there.
And then you watch how. The economy is unfolding and you watch the executives gaining inordinate wealth and a lot of the other people working in conditions that are far more demanding, far more difficult on their families that are the boots on the ground execution that is actually bringing these things into reality, having an extremely unjust share in it.
the value that's getting created. And we started deeply talking about, okay society has to create all this infrastructure and superstructure for itself. We need roadways, we need bridges, we need reservoirs, we need all this backbone infrastructure, and that has to keep expanding and morphing and changing and being operated and maintained.
And, The way that we're creating that is completely broken. I won't get into it on this podcast, but at some point, society has to understand the billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer money that are just abjectly wasted from the corrupt collusion between trade unions and government and finance and all these different directions, right?
So it's okay, we have to create all this stuff. What if there was a more just way? Where we could steward in common the organizations and the generative capacity of these, the economy and the teams and the companies that it takes to create infrastructure and superstructure for humanity. What if we steward those and could pass them through the generations in a more just way that allowed every single stakeholder, every worker to be a co steward and a an owner, a co steward, a co owner, a, an engaged equal part of the cooperative that they're running.
And so we talked a little bit in about in a previous discussion about that leading us to explore different models of that around the world and finding, finding Mondragon. And so when I approached Bill and we, We're starting to try to articulate how it was that I could give away. my personal companies into a multi generational stewardship structure that existed not for the good of one family or even the current set of families, but for truly was stewarded for future generations in a way that every single family that was participating in it could benefit from it with the goal and the mandate to constantly be passing the baton and raising up the next generation so that it could offer operate and put So that was one key driver that led to the creation of, the foundational infrastructure of Lyonsburg around legal and governance and some of the technology that it would take to do that.
There's a second, there's a second bigger thing that's weighing heavier on me this week which is that we never had the opportunity to. fully activate that structure because the companies that I was operating ended up my naivete and mistake, let mistakes, let's say ended up colliding with abjectly corrupt structures intent on their demise.
And that combination resulted in a couple of hundred families losing their livelihoods. And so, we didn't get to. Activate that structure for the purpose that I had in mind of being able to give away the companies. I was operating into a multi generational structure. Instead, we're sitting here on the brink of likely filing bankruptcy within the next.
Two to three weeks, let's say, and that'll wrap up that section of our lives and put the tens of millions of dollars of claims and counterclaims Associated with those battles with corruption under a transparent public resolution. And so that's a little bit on the shelf right now It will be evaluated in bankruptcy and in federal court through the claims and counterclaims But that's a little bit on the shelf.
There's a second major driver Though, that goes back to even the deeper thing that I've been chasing since I was 10 or 12, which is, okay, what is this moment in human history? Is it likely or not that the world's going to shake in the profound ways that it was laid on my heart that they might, and If that was coming and if we needed to rapidly unite a force for good under God around the world to meet this moment in history, how would we go about doing that?
And that basically gets to back to those deep levels of human organization that Bill was talking about where we're dealing with literally how you set up society to cooperate peacefully. And we have examples of how that's working and not working in the United States. We had examples of how it dramatically went wrong in the Soviet Union.
We have examples of how that was working and not working in Iran. We have examples of the arrogant and ignorant interference by the U. S. And other empires and those structures that mediated all those collapses. So you see this whole mess basically. So Bill, tell me a little bit about how that total context and seeing. All those things you saw along with your deep curiosity in the pursuit of wisdom and truth and science and all those things. How did those all come together in your mind? Prior to when we met and during our early years as we were grappling with the intersection of. Science and society and constitutions and economy and human organizations.
Tell me a little bit about how those things came together in, in your mind, and how those informed what you will, were, and were not willing to work on and sacrifice for and invest
Bill Larson: Yeah that's just a big question because you're asking what factors change our mind? I I was raised in a pretty conservative home. Religiously, politically, primarily Republican. And at the same time, I had this desire to participate in total community, people sharing things in common and working on common enterprises to achieve a big mission without an emphasis on a personal aggrandizement or personal accumulation.
And at the same time, I had the natural desire to dream and to think big and yeah. And to support a family and all that. I became a lawyer and not because of the possibility of making a lot of money, which some people get into a profession for that reason and they end up being bad in the profession as a human being because of that.
But I, I thought this is a good way to have an influence in society. So I, I pondered what would energizes people. I got into business peer to peer mentoring. I was a chair in an organization that it was did peer to peer mentoring after years of practicing law. I added that and some entrepreneurial things to my life. And so I pondered this what happens when people, when they build their company so that they can have this nice equity value in the company. But then since I was always asking questions, I Ask myself what happens then? What happens when they hand off their company to their progeny or their successor?
What happens when people become wealthy by inheritance? What does it do to their attitudes? And Let's say a person has a, the ability to make money. I know a guy who... He's like a money magnet. Everything he does turns to gold. It's a talent. It's a gift. So I pondered this a lot. What... Jesus talks about the fruit.
He says he's the vine, we're the branches. We abide in him, we bear much fruit. But he didn't tell us that fruit was personal piety. He just talked about fruit. then there are different... passages in the Bible about fruit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, the fruit of the spirit. You think of a project or an investment bearing fruit, you think of a fruitful life, this term is very well used. But I ponder this, in the context of the Middle East, when a, There's a lot of, there are a lot of vineyards in the Middle East, the Mediterranean area. And if, a vine isn't pruned properly, it won't bear fruit properly.
If it's not tended properly, it won't bear fruit. But if it has, if it's well rooted in good soil, it has enough water, it has sunshine, it's pruned properly, it's like a life being prepared having the right values, being rooted, it bears fruit. But the question that people who make a bunch of money building the equity in a company and never sharing that with the people who helped them build it, is what entitlement do we have to the fruit of our own labor? We we're not supposed to muzzle the ox while it treads the grain. We're supposed to pay people they're just... They're just pay. We're supposed to do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. We're supposed to be generous. We're supposed to work hard so that we don't create a burden for others.
There are all kinds of good things, right? But, then there's this disturbing parable that Jesus gave of the guy who was very wealthy. He had lots of fields and he made, he had great harvests and lots of grain. And he one night said to himself You've done very well. You should build bigger barns to store all this abundance. And Jesus tells the people listening to the parable, This man didn't know that he was going to die that night. He would be answerable. What he should have done, this is a surprise then, Jesus says, what he should have done is sell the grain. And people Don't think about what some of these parables say.
They're, puzzling, they're confusing to the traditional thinking. We don't like to quote, we like to quote the Apostle Paul, we like to quote church custom. But Jesus is not fun to quote because he says things, if you think about it, they're disturbing. For the person who is socialist minded, that's not very good of a thing to hear. If you sell the grain, you make a bunch of money to the capitalist. It's not fun to hear that because you can't, if you're going to just sell your grain at the spot prices, you can't corner the market. You can't hoard it to raise prices. You can't play the futures mark. You can't get into speculation.
You just sell it. The brain comes in, you sell it. So what are you, doing? You're. You're actually contributing to a local economy. You're allowing people to buy it at whatever price the market demands. In other words, you can't control it. You still make money, but the people get to use it then.
They can start a bakery, they can feed their families. So back to fruit. The profound question that I get coming up year after year in my life is, What is the fruit? It is not for the consumption by the vine. The vine, a grapevine doesn't eat its own grapes. It's, the fruit is there for someone else.
Something else. It reproduces the vine and provides fruit and food for birds and animals and people and... They can, they make wine, and they sell grapes, and they do like I do. I eat raisins and I freeze grapes. I'm not content to eat just a plain grape. But the point is, the vine doesn't need its own fruit.
How does that apply to me? If I have, if one of the fruits of my life is I have the ability to make a billion dollars, am I entitled to just consume that billion dollars? Build mansion after mansion, build a yacht? Fly the best, eat the best, live the best, disassociate from people who smell bad, not give away. If I have a sense of noblesse oblige, do I wait 50 years until, Oh no, I'm going to die now, I'm going to leave this money to build a wing of a hospital, or I'm going to do something in philanthropy that will give me a name. Why didn't I do that 50 years ago or 30 years ago? Why did I hoard that in order to do something later?
Why didn't I just let it go at the time? I would have still prospered. But a lot of the problems, and this, kind of brings up some of my evolution of thinking regarding philanthropy and regarding non profits. They're often built to solve problems that if people were more generous and shared the wealth with their workers and instead of hoarding that equity value, If they would let it continue on to bless the community, generation after generation, then you wouldn't have some of the poverty that non profits are funded by billionaires later to solve. Make, make jobs now. So in this, when you and I met, that became one of the themes. So here we have ideas of what do you do with the work you do, and do you eat your own fruit, or is it there for others and you? what happens when you accumulate, generationally linked, until the dynasty is grown, and then what happens with philanthropy?
One author says it's the last bastion of colonialism is philanthropy. There's truth in that.
Jordan Nicholas: Yeah,
Bill Larson: So.
Jordan Nicholas: too quick threads to pick up. One of the things that we've talked about through the years as a continual theme is the idea of charity versus justice and so much of what we see and or see and think of and philanthropy is charity that's merely treating the outer symptoms that arise because we're not being just at the core.
And so there's this. I guess an obvious realization is if we're spending, let's even say that we're among the, most generous and, we're honoring this idea of the tithe. And then let's say that we're working with 90 percent of our time and capacity. We go to our community of faith on the weekend and we're, learning about these principles and we're taking a 10th and trying to address the problems that we see.
But then with the other 90 percent of our time we, leave that behind and we go. Co operate in an inherently unjust system that is causing those symptoms that we're trying to then address with a tenth of our time and resources. It's so fundamentally broken and that's just the road towards continuing degradation and destruction.
So that, that's one of the amazing things about the Old Testament, let's say, is that you end up seeing. A group of people trying to forge a complete way of life. That's right relationship to each other. Right relationship to God. Right relationship within tribes. Right relationship among tribes.
How that tribe of tribes rightly relates to creation, to the earth, to agriculture, to every, single aspect. And the, Old Testament is one of the greatest Compilations of that story over thousands of years of people trying to wrestle with what is it? What does it mean to actually forge a proper society from top to bottom individual to tribal to collective across every aspect of governance and economy and society and culture and ritual and values and all these different things.
And you get the faint picture. Of what's trying to emerge that's then spoken to in the prophetic voice through Isaiah and others who are painting the picture of the world to come. And it's okay, we're grappling with these things. And if we could just sort it out, then this future that's better than we could possibly imagine of abundance and peace and harmony could result.
And because we haven't figured it out, we're continually falling back into slavery and tyranny and all those different things. So, that concept of. Charity versus justice is one of has to be one of the drivers, and that's why, as we were trying to articulate what are values that's near, that are near the top of the total nested hierarchy of values that reflect the spirit of God, very near the top.
You, you keep coming back to justice, and that justice is basically the way to put charity out of business. That, that's one of the one of the goals of justice.
Bill Larson: When you and I you told me about Mondragon and that was very interesting as we were looking at models that would connect the idea of a non profit with the idea of a for profit, and how do you bridge that without getting messed up in the law and taxes? And we came up with a really good way to look at that.
But we ended up you invited me to come with two others and you to Mondragon. We went over there and... For their week long training program with these grad students from University of San Diego. And I was just really touched by what I saw working in in a, it was in, it's not a non profit, a cooperative.
Is a for profit enterprise. It's just not owned by an individual or families. It's owned by the group and everybody has an equity that it, and over there they have this capital account. And when they retire, they get the capital account. They get a wonderful retirement. They have much higher wages than contemporary businesses around them.
They have compressed differential between the highest and lowest paid. The lowest, paid full time person and the highest paid full time person are only divided by seven times. Whereas in American public companies and large corporations, it's between one and 300 or more times. So the CEO of an, of one of their multiple cooperatives in Mondragon doesn't make more than seven times. The lowest person full time paid. And I thought that was that was wonderful to see that. And it isn't socialism. It's not government owned means of production. It is a safety net that is by common agreement. And interestingly, it was built on Christian principles. Father Aresmendi Arieto, I just love saying that name He, he was a priest who wanted to correct these injustices and this tragedy of having a whole ethnic group attacked by Hitler's blitzkrieg practicing bombers in the, Spanish Civil War.
It decimated the community of the Basque region. And instead of violent revolution and communism, he said let's help each other to grow in business and in life. And he started the trade school, then it was a graduate school of engineering, and then eventually they bought businesses and they formed cooperatives. But his writings are very much linked to his worldview of ethics. And so this brings me back to a thought that started when I was a young lawyer. My, My, law partner and I talked a lot about the idea of a law firm without walls. That was an open community of lawyers who just referred things back and forth and would share together nationwide or even worldwide. It was a, it was an experimental, a thought exercise, right? But the idea of Jubilee started to hit my head my brain, my little brain. And the idea that in the, Israel, the Israelites had to, abide by one really important rule. You hear honor the Sabbath you hear that.
But God said you have to have a Sabbath year. Every seventh year was a Sabbath year. And that year you didn't work, you didn't plant the land. It went fallow and it was restored. So regenerative agriculture is at the heart of the. The Jewish worldview and commands. And then every 49th year was a year of Jubilee.
It was one of the Sabbath years, but it was added as a year when all the debts were forgiven and all of the land, which was the means of production, was returned to the original families. So it would never accumulate past a certain point. A person could own lands and be quite wealthy, knowing That it's only going to last for one generation or maybe a one and a half. So I, really explored that idea a lot in my thinking with others. And then when you and I met, I began to see that this idea of intergenerational protection of the equity value for the people is very wise. Because it's it, creates jobs and prevents injustice. Everybody who feels that they have a right to unlimited value. Their aspiration is to something that God never envisioned. It's not biblical. And all I know a lot of people on the right conservative Christians are real gung ho about the, about capitalism. Free enterprise is wonderful. And capitalism, if with a small C and the idea that you're allowed to aggregate capital to do projects, you have to aggregate in order to do some projects to build a road.
You can't depend on a libertarian world or anarchistic world won't build roads and it won't make hospitals and you won't have sidewalks and you won't have soccer clubs so you have to aggregate your. Your print your value to do things as collectively as a and, that might be through taxes and it might be through voluntary associations.
There's something about aggregation of value that lets us do things together. It's like ants working together. Solomon said, look at the ant. The ants put all their effort into aggregating every single thing into surviving. And the question is, can we as human beings at it in those broader terms?
Jordan Nicholas: voluntary. Yeah it's amazing to will. So that's one of the main questions we've been wrestling with and trying to answer it's okay, If the answer wasn't let's give everything to a corrupt centralized government that's going to destroy everything by trying to calculate from the top down and then make everybody starve to death and suffer, if that's not the right answer.
And it's also not the right answer to have have a unlimited number of entities trying to get as powerful as they can for their own benefit at the expense of the things around them, right? If we needed. total sovereignty, autonomy, and freedom at from the individual to the family, to the local community, to all the way up.
But if we also understand that we want to aggregate our individual efforts into the efforts of a family, and often we want to aggregate the. efforts of our family into a functioning community so that we don't have to do everything ourself And that as each individual and family starts to voluntarily come into right relationship with broader groups we can start to look at what the unique gifts and calling of every individual and family and community are and we can start to do exchange on the basis of what we're Most good at and passionate about on the basis of something like a comparative advantage of saying, okay you love doing this bill.
I hate doing that. I'll leave that to you. And here's what you hate doing that. I'm really good at. And so everybody wins through that exchange. So then. We've been so stuck since whenever it was sometime between I don't know when it was, but sometime out of World War II, into the Cold War, into the propagandized and ideological battles between capitalism and communism, we've been left with these abjectly wrong extremes of absolute government control or absolute self interested pursuit, and we've lost the idea of Absolutely free, sovereign, autonomous, local action, consciously and voluntarily united and aggregated in service of the will and intention of God, which reflects the core spirit and values that every person of goodwill has on their heart.
Okay, so now we're getting towards where we can start to carve out of these different histories of grappling. Almost a set of acceptance criteria for what a new way of organizing ourselves and cooperating might look like. And there we can just get back to a little bit of the story of Mondragon, just as an example.
But what Arizmendi found out was first he... My understanding was he traveled for 10 or 15 years trying to speak to these issues and everybody would say yeah. And then they would go back and keep doing what they were doing because it's really hard to change. And so finally, he realized he had to do it through the youth.
And so that led to the creation of schools. And then a couple people who had come out of those trade and engineering schools that he was teaching rooted in timeless wisdom and values. That led to the creation of that first cooperative that turned into hundreds of cooperatives, but what they found over time back to this education was when you have a when you have an entrenched system that's operating in a way that's entirely antithetical to.
The timeless wisdom and principles and values that cause people and societies and nature to flourish. It's really hard to change, right? So you almost have to go to the youth. And so what they ended up building over decades was this concept of cooperatism, let's say, as their uniting principle. And like we discussed in the previous podcast, they discovered, okay, we should run our kindergartens cooperatively and we should run our preschools cooperatively and we should run our healthcare systems that give rise to children cooperatively and we should run our communities cooperatively and we should use the same principles of cooperative cooperativism
in our Civic dialogue and debates about the issues facing our community as we do in our, dialogue and debate about the issues facing a company. And so you end up with a complete ethos permeating a society that's inculcated from birth all the way through. And so that's a picture almost like you see in the Old Testament with Israel, where it's like everything is about a way of life, a way of being a widely known and culturally indoctrinated way.
That we think our society is going to best hold itself together and flourish across the generations. And same thing, they discovered, okay we ought to be eating from farms that are producing in accordance with these values. We should be buying from supermarkets that are operating in accordance with these values.
We should be recognizing leaders and representatives from among us who most accurately embody these values. And so you end up with a whole self selected culture and ethos. Just like Israel, just like any that lasts for generations, where it's just deeply integrated from the top to the bottom.
Bill Larson: immediateness, think, are they discovered? You talk about integrating values and and a whole way of life and the perspective and practices and governance that creates a system that works in a certain way. I was very intrigued to learn that when we got there. This is a statistic that is old now, I, but when we got there, Mondragon had been under, underway for multiple, couple generations.
It's just before COVID when we went, and I learned that, and you can correct me if I'm wrong here, but in all the years that they've been active when it comes to layoffs for economic purposes not firing for malfeasance or something like that, but in layoffs they'd only ever laid off a total in all that time, though they have 100, 000 employees, 85, 000 members at that time, and 15, 000 non member employees.
They'd only laid off 65 people in all those years. And that, you might correct my number, but the idea, Of how do you run a business? I've heard people say this isn't a charity here. I'm, entitled. I worked hard for this. I'm entitled to this. There's so many things that just, they're commonly heard, but they're not analyzed.
For example, someone says, Oh, that person doesn't have a job. They're homeless. They should just get a job. I've heard that comment a lot. If you believed that, if you've been laid off by a corporation that didn't value more than as an economic producing unit, and the moment they couldn't pay the top brass their they laid off people at the bottom so they could afford their bonuses at the top, if you knew that, which people know that, you had, went through hard times, and You, your wife left you because of economic reasons, and you hit the bottle, and now you're an alcoholic, and you don't know what to do. And someone says, get a job, you're disillusioned. What do
Jordan Nicholas: Yeah,
Bill Larson: with a company like that, again?
Jordan Nicholas: Yeah,
there... There's this deep, there's this deep, I think, differentiation. If we look at it from as close to the perspective of God as we can possibly grapple with, knowing that we can't see it from there, but we're looking down on an entire Planet or on an entire ecosystem and contained in that is an entire society and contained in that society are a bunch of communities and, the treatment, the elevation and transformation of all of those different layers from the individual to the family, to the local community, to society to the planet and living system that has to cooperate And sustain and regenerate through millennia, all of those levels have to be stacked up in a line.
So I think you just hit on the head. It's like when we're separated and we're not building community we're sub optimizing for the success of my business, then we make all the wrong decisions. One of my what you were saying you gave the example of, people who have Fallen out of the bottom society of society, let's say, and are struggling and disillusioned and depressed and addicted.
There's another one of my friends. One of the people that was in my CEO peer group for five years has worked for the last decades full time with people who have mental or physical disabilities that prevent them from operating at a minimum wage level in the economy. And there's, wide swaths of society for whatever the reason.
It is that you just can't look at from the standpoint of I'm optimized, optimizing for my business. And if you, don't fit that thing we're firing you. And I saw that as soon as I, as soon as I got out of the structures that I was working for and then had to test the ideas myself, you realize, okay, this is, this actually is a big problem because if you set up the whole society to where Everything has to self optimize for itself and compete to succeed.
Then you end up. With those micro behaviors getting so deeply driven. So that's where we were trying to back up and back up and going, okay, one of the things we know is that we're going to have to tear down the false dichotomies between self interested for profit work and the nonprofit charity that's trying to treat the symptoms.
And we're going to have to figure out how to federate and build community across a wide array. Of different types of people and organizations and endeavors that can collectively function in a balanced and wise way, but it can't just be building high performing businesses that exclude anybody who's currently spiritually, mentally or physically unfit to function in a super high performing machine.
Or we're over here just trying to treat charity. It's like we have to figure out how through the generations every single human being has their feet on that path of integrated well being and development. And we as a society are meeting every individual right where they are to figure out what their unique genius is and how we can pull that out and foster and cultivate that in community to be transforming our life and our world.
Okay, I want to share. We've got maybe 15 or 30 minutes left. I want to continue down this road just a little bit of the conditions of acceptance by looking at a few of the things that are a few of the issues that are facing our society. It's really, Tempting because it's way easier and way less confusing to try to simplify any of these problems when we hit them.
It's like we can hit any of these problems that we've talked about today, whether it's governance and the rise and fall of nations and empires, whether it's issues of homelessness, whether it's issues of addiction, whether it's issues of mental or physical disability, whether it's issues of environmental destruction.
It's really easy to look at any one of those and go, Okay, I'm going to, I'm going to design a business or a charity to either address or treat the symptoms of what or whatever this issue is. So another profound question we started asking ourselves years ago when we would encounter an issue let's say homelessness since bill just brought it up.
It's okay, we're so passionate about that and we want to address that issue. And there's amazing organizations and people devoting decades in their lives to it. So one really interesting question would be something like, homelessness wasn't actually the problem, but that was a symptom of a problem, what might some of those deeper root causes be?
And so any of these kind of root cause analysis type things, you can use any tool you want. Five whys is a really common one, but it's okay, homelessness is rampantly increasing and people are struggling to integrate themselves into society. And afford the basic shelter, food, water, and ability to work and transport and whatever.
So why? And then you can come up with an answer. And why. And when you get deep enough, You end up getting to the very deep issues on how we're organizing ourselves, how we're governing ourselves, how our economy is working, what the incentives are, how the financial systems are working, and you get to these very deep issues of organization and you realize, okay, it's actually not possible.
We've proved it. We've proved it in places like L. A. that are spending billions and billions of dollars to address homelessness that's getting worse and worse. It's okay if the billions of dollars of charity and government work aren't fixing the problem and it's getting worse, What might be the real issue?
Bill talked about the fruit. It's if homelessness, if increasing homelessness, addiction and desperation are a fruit being born by from something, what is the root? What is the root and the vine that fruit of hopelessness and despair is flowing from? Okay, so I had a few other
Bill Larson: had a few other,
Jordan Nicholas: conversations this week.
I was talking with A dear friend who hopefully I'll have on soon who's a doctor. He specializes in care for older people and specifically mental health and brain disease. He was sharing that the medical profession now widely understands that roughly two thirds of Americans are either diabetic or pre diabetic.
And we're seeing these skyrocketing incidences of brain disease. And we know exactly why it is. We know that it's our lifestyle, it's our way of being. But very deeply, I had another, conversation with one of the most intelligent food system analysts that I know who was talking about the way that our agricultural practices are destroying the planet and destroying our bodies.
And so you look at the integrated things of okay, why are we all suffering? Why, are there members of every single one of our families suffering from addiction? And disease physically and mentally, what are potentially the root causes? Then you look at collapsing biodiversity and you start tracing it back.
And then you look at what's happening in agriculture, any of these different areas. And on all of those different ones, you have to have that same basic line of questioning. It's okay, if. If collapsing biodiversity was not a root cause, but a symptom of something deeper that's happening, what's happening that's causing biodiversity around the world to collapse?
If two thirds of the population of many species of animals are dying, and that's a symptom, what's causing that to happen? If, in many parts of the world two thirds of the population of insects are collapsing, what's happening? If we understand that our microbiome is collapsing, What's causing that?
If we understand that we're plagued with brain disease now, and that's connected to our microbiome, what's happening if we look at all these different things. So what you basically realize is that you have to get back to I think we, it's a choice, I guess we get to make as a human species.
I think we're coming to the deep awareness that there is absolutely nothing you can do from the standpoint of. trying to treat the symptom of collapsing biodiversity. There's nothing you can do from the standpoint of trying to treat mental health and addiction. There's nothing you can do from the standpoint of trying to treat homelessness.
There's nothing you can do from the standpoint of trying to treat the overwhelming burden of debt that is plaguing So many Americans and so many countries and so many people around the world, all of these things are burdens or crises that are built up very simply from the way that we're cooperating our society right now.
And although it's really deep, and although it's really difficult, and although it's really difficult to get our minds around and explain, that's been. The genesis of all of this work and foundations over the last years with Lionsburg is an attempt to say, okay if, all these charitable endeavors were good, and a lot of these business endeavors are good, and we need to do all those.
But if at the same time, the way we're doing that is causing. Our society and planet and government and economy and monetary systems to be so corrupted that they're actively collapsing before our eyes. What can we do then to start falling back and rediscovering that timeless, this timeless wisdom and principles and values that cause people, families, communities.
Eco environments to flourish, and how can we start to instantiate and act that out?
Bill Larson: Well,
Jordan Nicholas: go ahead, bill.
Bill Larson: These single issue organizations are all doing something good. I wouldn't want to see us not improve. Agricultural practices to protect the land. That is, the soil is being harmed. We won't go into all that, but there are so many single issues. One of the reasons you and I didn't want to just jump into a single issue.
We wrestled with all this stuff. Was that because it wasn't enough? There, there are, there's always going to be an organization that's going to be digging water wells. for people in places that don't have clean water, and that is needed and good. But we also need to find the one ring that binds them all, we need to find the one, fundamental, the, like in, in Curly's Gold what's the one thing and in that comedy. What is the one thing? And this kind of comes up in, in a verse I've, read this many times, when the story of the creation account, and anyone listening, I would just urge them to hear this as if you've never read that account before, okay? God creates man and woman, and he says, Now I'm going to give you to rule over the fish of the sea and the creatures on the land. And then he also tells them that to bear to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. But I've heard people protest against that rule over the fish of the sea and the land and dominating.
But people don't think of what it just said. If you're gonna have, if you're gonna rule over something, that means you have the responsibility to see that it continues to exist. If it ceases to exist, you can't rule over it. And if you're ruling over people, you'll have to do what every dictator that comes to power in revolution They discover you have to fill potholes in the streets, you have to maintain banking on some level, you have to make sure that people are safe. Every warlord who takes control of a country discovers that this is not a party. You still have to do something for people. So if you're going to rule over the fish of the sea you have to, do this. You have to see that they continue, that all the fish are there. All the creatures are, so this amazing responsibility is under the mandate of the Creator to see that nothing goes extinct to the extent that we can prevent it. Nothing is harmed, that we don't harm the seas because we're damaging, we're killing the fish and the, and we're killing the biome on the land. If I was a single issue person, I would say that's it. That's it. I'm just gonna go for the environmentalism, which I think is right inherent in that.
But when you consider that it was the creator of the universe being quoted as saying, this is your responsibility. That raises this question. If I'm accountable to see that everything continues to live, then what does that involve? How do I do that? That involves how did God make all this?
Jordan Nicholas: Okay, so
Bill Larson: of it?
Jordan Nicholas: Exactly
Bill Larson: follow along with this?
Jordan Nicholas: Okay. So That's the key flip. That's the key flip is to responsibility and accountability. This has been one of the other like key themes that came up throughout our. Throughout our grappling with structures that we came to understand were inherently corrupt and likely malevolent and had repeated, had demonstrated repeatedly, repeated willingness to afflict families.
Let's say it's okay, what is our relationship to structures of injustice? And it relates to this issue of responsibility. Because one of the things that we heard repeatedly was, okay, we share our story. Other people come forward and say, that same thing happened to me. And it's happened to these other people.
And a bunch of us know it's been happening for a long time. It's if somebody would have told me, we're playing a corrupt game. You'd act completely different, right? It's we... I came to a really interesting point where it's okay, I either need to change the messaging that I'm going to give to my daughter.
So it's really different than the messaging I got because I was raised to believe that we live in one of the greatest experiments in human democracy and that were that we are one nation under God and that we reflect these shared ideals. And that all these things, all the different roles of church and state that I was taught to believe, I want to believe those things.
So when you, then come to the understanding that many structures of religion and state have come completely unmoored for those ideals and that they're destroying our society and our planet, then there's a really interesting dichotomy, right? It's like we can either shrink back into ourselves and go, okay.
We need to arm and protect ourselves and take care of our own family. And I need to tell Emma that she's living in a world of sharks and wolves. And that she shouldn't pledge allegiance to the flag. Or be very careful about all these things, right? Because those structures are abjectly corrupt, so don't subordinate yourself to them.
Don't so there's like this crisis moment in both the American experiment and the human experiment.
Bill Larson: we either have to set things
Jordan Nicholas: Where we either have to set things back in order so that in good faith, we can pledge allegiance to these things and do our best to participate and uphold them because they're wise and right and good.
Or, we have to admit to ourselves and our children that we've let them become so corrupt we can no longer participate in them and we're positioning ourselves and preparing for the collapse and fall. It's, I can't tell you how many conversations I'm in now of people who have just accepted the inevitability of the collapse of the American experiment and maybe a lot of civilization as Conclusion, but this idea of responsibility going to authority bill was talking about ruling over.
So you can maybe you could find a, verse that says something like we're all kings and priests. What does that mean to be a king and rule over something? And it's all about this proper stacking up and alignment of. and responsibility that have to move in direct proportion with each other through every domain, starting with ourselves.
So that idea that the creator of the universe is, sovereign is the ultimate source of authority and sovereignty. This was what was so confusing about Jesus's words, among many other things. It's like, why are you acting as if you have authority? And once we understand that our primary and identity and relationship, is not to any of these tribal or national structures, but to the creator of the universe and the will and intention of the ultimate king.
And then that we're invited as the family of God into that kingship but completely subordinated to universally to the will and intention of God. Now it becomes about the exercise of authority as responsibility for The stewardship and flourishing of whatever domains were entrusted with. So that basically flips the entire thing on its head to say Oh, hooray, I'm a king.
I have all the rights in the world now. I'm accountable to God for the flourishing of every domain and structure that he entrusts me with. And that then becomes a completely different operative modality. So that is what coming back to something a little bit ago, this idea of what is our responsibility to in the face of or in relationship to structures of injustice, especially in these election cycle years, we end up with everybody.
It seems like in a place of almost learned helplessness being plied with deceitful narratives about which them out there, which party, which leader we should vote for in order to solve our problems and set everything right. And we absolutely know that the solutions to our problems are not in the abjectly structure, the abjectly corrupted structures of politics and government and media and big everything that's dominating and exploiting our society.
So once we understand that there is absolutely zero chance... that any reasonable solution to the deepest root issues that are causing all this fruit of division and corruption and mental and physical illness and the destruction of biodiversity and the pollution of our air, water, and soil. Once we understand that none of those can ever come out of any of the corrupted, misaligned, and collusive structures that are causing them, then it's who's responsible.
And I think the answer is us in the, broadest sense of that word, like us, all of us,
Bill Larson: God's
Jordan Nicholas: because that's what God has entrusted us with, like back to the creation story build. It's this is God's universe. And it's not doesn't belong to the governments and corporations and we should not expect them to be good stewards of God's world Because they are set up on a logic that's completely antithetical to it.
It's our responsibility and That gets us back to maybe the only solution being something like unity under God Bill asked the question in one of our in one of our quarterly retreats a while ago He asked the question, what's the one thing we were maybe talking about the technology industry at the time, and then we brought in the question, but it's like, what's the one thing that everyone thinks is impossible, but if it could be accomplished, every other domino would fall.
Everything else would become possible and all the advice of scripture and logic and everything seems to be that unity. Under God, with properly ordered responsibility and authority distributed among us, we the people,
Bill Larson: each taking a deep responsibility
Jordan Nicholas: for and authority over. The domains that we've been entrusted with and working tirelessly to conform our own selves, our own spirits to the will and intention of God, while working together to conform our different domains to reflect the will and intention of God.
That then becomes that motive in breaking and displacing force that is maybe capable of winning this spiritual battle we find ourselves in the midst of.
Bill Larson: I look at that that mandate to rule over the fish of the sea and the animals of the land as, and I just I, ponder this thing, and the more I ponder it, the more it shouts that I didn't understand it the first time I heard it, and for the 35 years afterward. And here's why. It isn't addressed to the powerful, it isn't addressed to kings and existing leaders.
It is addressed to Adam and Eve. And interestingly, the word Adam just means, man. It was adopted as a name, but it meant man. So just to anyone, any human being out there. within earshot is being addressed. If I'm supposed to rule over anything, doesn't it have to start with myself? If I don't rule over myself, I won't have the discipline to do anything.
I won't be able to marshal my skills, my gifts, my talents, my treasure, my relationships, in order to dig a ditch, fix a plumbing joint. Call my neighbor and tell him his house is on fire. You, can't do anything productive unless you marshal your energies and coordinate your activity to do the thing as is required.
So I have to be disciplined and rule my own heart in order for me to accomplish anything. And now within a group of people. Jordan Peterson talks about how hierarchy has a bad name, it really just means that there has to be some kind of order within any grouping. So if I'm in a group of two, and the other one is my wife, and she's cooking, it doesn't matter who cooks, if she's cooking and she knows something, or she's doing this thing regarding some issue in recovery or she does a lot of mentoring and sponsoring of women.
If she says this is an issue that's important. I defer to her where she has that and that insight. Then she's the boss.
Jordan Nicholas: her domains, right? It's like it's the fractal. It's exactly. It's every it's differentiating every domain it. You said
Bill Larson: said, you,
Jordan Nicholas: to mind as you said, rule over yourself is the timeless. One of the oldest pieces of advice is know thyself. It's like you have to know and almost identify yourself properly.
And get that all integrated and aligned, and then you can look at, okay what, other. Gardens or domains has God put under my care under my stewardship So so the exercise of responsibility and authority then becomes about stewardship of domains and then you know You just mentioned that in your relationship with your wife you guys have recognized okay, here's some of Bill's domains and here's some of Rose's domains and when I Bill go and enter one of the domains that God has entrusted my spouse and not me with I'm coming under her authority Within that domain and then we might walk into another domain and she might come back over my under my authority, right?
But it's like this nuanced walking through these domains, So
Maybe a closing Hypothesis as we come up to our last few minutes here Is that very near to the deepest root cause that's causing all of the manifestations of decay that we can see is a misalignment of responsibility and authority on Earth.
That starts when we, the people individually abdicate. The responsibility and authority that we are supposed to be taking up and we abdicate that to them, we think that them is in whichever one of the hundreds of nation states were spread through the moment that we abdicate the responsibility and authority that God is calling us to take up, we place it externally to where it will be taken up by tyrants and corrupted. If, if something like that is true, and if sorting out the proper order of responsibility and authority and love as a human species is very near to the core, then what has to arise is completely outside of the existing structures that we've created. abdicated responsibility and authority over. We the people have to start taking up responsibility and authority over ourselves and over our families and over our local communities and over our companies and over our nonprofits and basically stop externalizing any of the blame.
And to say, okay, the reason things are all going is because we, the people, are not taking proper responsibility and authority over each and every domain that we're a part of, and when we come back into right relationship with God and each other and all creation and take back up That responsibility and authority starting with our own lives and then moving into each fractal and when we recognize that since we can't violate each other's free will, then all those domains have to be voluntarily stacked up aligned and properly ordered.
Under what? What is the one thing that unites the many domains that we have responsibility and authority over and that's where you can call it whatever you want, but Jesus repeatedly called it the kingdom of God, the ultimate order where the will and intention of the king is done throughout every fractal nested domain of responsibility and authority that we've been entrusted with.
Bill Larson: I
Jordan Nicholas: in the I think that's maybe the we.
Bill Larson: the, we've
Jordan Nicholas: Spent so much time in stories that we are not going to get into the solution today, but that is in my mind, very close to the solution is that we need every single member billion strong around the world. We, the people to experience whatever that shift of awareness is that causes us to realize that the creator of the universe is calling us.
Begging us, beckoning us, desiring to gather us together and to partner with us to co create the best possible future we could ever hope for. And that requires each of us becoming conscious agents who are aligned in spirit and intention with God. And once we meet in that place as one under the will and intention of God.
All of these other structures and politics and political parties and all that stuff just like fades away and you realize, Oh, my gosh, this is a giant corrupt mess.
Bill Larson: solutions are going to be
Jordan Nicholas: out of it. What are we doing over here to connect to unite ourselves and to start progressing to meet every need and solve every problem and capture every opportunity is at hand, not blaming or looking to anyone else, but making that we that's united under God enough.
Bill Larson: enough.
Jordan Nicholas: To actually be the spiritual body that we've called to be contrary to the factions and divisions and denominations and political parties and
chaos that we've split ourselves into. Alright, Bill, final word.
Bill Larson: I like how Mondragon has this principle that if, a, people in a group feel that their supervisor or their manager, their leader, even the CEO is out of line and harmful, they can just get together and vote them out. No, they're not fired. The very efficient leadership of the overall organization says, okay now, Jose you've been, terminated by there's a process for it, and maybe you aren't in the right place, maybe you need to be educated in some new things, maybe you need to learn some things here, or maybe you just need to go back in and work in the, on the team as just one of the more lowly members. And there, there's the freedom to do that, what's interesting about that is that they believe in the vote very strongly. If there may be people who come into a group who don't agree with the group and yet they like what the group is doing. They don't agree with their underlying premise. There might be someone who listens to this and says, Wait a minute, you're talking about God.
I don't, there's no place for God in my worldview. That may be true from your perspective, but are you willing to ask the questions? Willing to go down the rabbit hole and ask? And I took this approach years ago. I'm willing to follow the truth wherever it leads, even if it's risky, even if it threatens me, because I don't claim to know everything about anything, but I have to seek honestly.
And that's one of the things that Jesus said, Seek and you shall find. Seek is an active, continuous, tense verb there. And I think that we can connect with very diverse and different backgrounds and center on the common thing is that we love and hunger for the truth. We know
that we know We don't even have to say who that is or what that is. It's like in AA. Your higher power. You can say it's anything you want, but the point is you're willing to be honest about it and just bear your soul in the group in confidence. And that's a great starting point. And I know people will be listening to this who have questions.
You create or what do you mean? What do you mean you don't believe in anything like evolution? I didn't say that. I didn't say anything about that. I didn't deny what some people say. I didn't affirm what other people said. I won't even say which people they are. Because the main thing is that I'm willing to follow truth.
And that's what you and I did for years. We would wrestle with these things. We didn't always see the same way. But you know what? That was the strength of it. We could get into that one day. But we can talk about this commonality. It has to be simple enough that... A person can say I don't quite see it your way, but I want to participate in something that's seeking to solve the comprehensive
problem and is willing to get to the roots.
That's the key. What is
Jordan Nicholas: Exactly.
Bill Larson: comes from? The word radix, which we're going to get radical, that comes from radix in the Greek and it means root. It's not abandoning and just becoming disassociated, it's saying let's get back to the roots. What is at the root here? What is the cause here?
Jordan Nicholas: The deepest thing that the most other things depend on. Keep what, does that depend on? What does that depend on? What does that depend on? Getting closer and closer to the roots, closer and closer to the depths. And what you, what, I guess in this podcast series one of the things we'll have to explore is what we mean when we say transcript.
Creator or God because we've collectively as a human species, I think lost our shared idea of what that is But it's if you're not going to primarily relate to and optimize for yourself or your own Family or tribe or one little part. It's like a lot of people will go. Okay. Let's relate primarily to nature And then you realize that nature's in this constant state of transformation and creation and sustenance and destruction and regeneration.
So it's what is that deepest thing that's holding steady through the millennia? As reality and nature rises and falls and changes and societies and empires come and go. And the amazing thing is that so often we take that and then we create an idol by making some religious proper proposition about what it is.
And then trying to get people to bow down to those articulated words that we've said. And so I think what we're trying to convey here is that in order to be reunited under God. It has to involve the deep humility to understand that, what we are pointing at when we say creator or God is that the deepest thing guiding the ultimate reality that's guiding the subsequent transformations of reality across time.
And we're not trying to make any, we're not trying to make, we can't make idols or propositions about what that is, but we can relate to it genuinely. We can search it out, we can wrestle with it. That's That, that's the name Israel is whatever you want to call it. We who wrestle with God.
And so it's a wrestling, it's a searching and Bill and I hope to be in wrestling search with as many people as possibly want to go on that endless journey towards wisdom and truth and how we can do this. Okay. So to briefly wrap this up our hypothesis is that After deeply looking at these issues of organization and, the rise and fall of different nations and societies and orders over time, it looks like there's a deep problem with how we're organizing ourself as a human species that touches every pillar of society from how we're governing ourselves to how we're doing economy, to how we're doing culture and society, to how we're relating to each other, and God spiritually.
And that deep way of being is what's causing all the different manifestations and symptoms of everything we can see is going wrong. And so the only way to fix those symptoms is to get back to the deepest roots, to get back to The deepest absolute things that all those are arising from and to set that back in order and that seems to relate very closely to our relationship to God and to each other and to creation.
And that seems to relate very deeply to the issue of responsibility and authority. And once we come back into that primary identity as one family of God, each of us. Responsible for and with authority over our own lives and our own families and our own communities not to be dictated by to by some outside force.
Then we have to figure out how we stack up and align our work together and so that we the people can actually set things back in order for future generations so that I'm not sitting here and Bill's not sitting here 20 years from now in the midst of decay. Wondering why we didn't act when it would have been a lot easier.
And some of us are unwilling to pass that burden to future generations. When things are bad, the time to address them is now because problems don't age well. And every day, we're seeing more and more revelation of the abject corruption and how far off track society is. And our mission is to bring people together to...
Set things back in order from that deepest possible place. That is the only thing that can cure the symptoms we're facing.
Bill Larson: So,
Jordan Nicholas: if that's interesting to you, we'd like to structurally connect to go to www. jordannicholas. org and click join the movement. That'll make sure you're getting consistent communications from us which will not be as consistent on social media or other places.
We'll be doing our best to wrap those communications a couple times a month, keep everybody in the loop. And then we'll start structurally connecting people via some of the infrastructure and technology that we've built, if you're interested in that. So we hope it's of service. We hope you're delighted as you learn more about it.
And bill, thank
Bill Larson: thank you for being on
Jordan Nicholas: for
Bill Larson: for round three. And obviously a round four is
Jordan Nicholas: and infrastructure and technology that we built in response to years of grappling with these deep questions. So thanks again for being here. And I'll look forward to seeing you on here, Bill, again, and all for everybody listening.
Thank you for your time and attention. We know there's a lot of places you can spend it and deeply grateful that you made it this far. and appreciate you. God bless. And we will see you soon. Thanks Bill.