A WikiCast post in Above The Chaos
Release Date: 2023.09.01
Host: Jordan Nicholas Sukut
Guest(s): Bill Larson - Attorney & Strategic Advisor
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Our host Jordan Nicholas and attorney and advisor Bill Larson discuss corruption in our institutions.
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Bill Larson: When my daughter was a very little girl, we taught her to be generous, and then we would try to help homeless people, and then we had to teach her how to discern whether someone was just scamming or not. That was a hard one. I didn't want her to teach her to be isolated and stingy. So the best I could come up with was to look in their eyes.
And tried to discern if they were telling the truth. I said, sometimes we make a mistake and we trust someone who doesn't have good intentions, but we try our best, we act out in generosity, and then we move on. And if we can trust someone, it'll bear itself up. But sometimes we don't have the opportunity to determine that.
So one time we lived in Seattle, we had come across the ferry, we were walk ons, so we were leaving on the footbridge up into The second block up the hill from the ferry in Seattle, there's a long bridge that leaves the second deck and hits the second street up. So we were walking down that and we looked around and Christina was nowhere to be found.
And this walkway, this bridge was like two blocks long. And we were, alarmed right away. We looked back and here she was squatting down with her little pink purse. I think she was like, Probably seven or eight years old, maybe, probably eight. She was squatting down in front of a young homeless guy who was cross legged on the surface of the street there, the, this bridge, with a little cup next to him looking for donations.
And he was very quiet, looked very sad, and she was staring into his eyes. And we watched her for a minute and finally she pulled out her little pink purse and she took out a dollar. And she put it in his cup, and she came running up to us. And we said, what were you doing, Christina? And she said, I was trying to see if he was telling the truth, and I think he was.
Jordan Nicholas: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Above the Chaos. Our mission here is to see if we can rise up above the roiling waters of chaos and darkness that are engulfing our society and some of our lives and see those clearly from above and be able to speak forth the truthful words that can bring a better future into reality.
I'm back with Bill Larson for episode two here. In the first episode, we we talked about some of the trajectory we were on in our efforts to work towards greater socioeconomic justice and new structures. We had a really interesting experience and story that unfolded out of those with our life's work colliding with with structures that were operating on, on patterns that were very different than the ones we were working towards and those resulted in.
Quite an upheaval. So over the, over time, you'll probably see the lawsuit that I filed in federal court against the largest county here in the United States. And we also have a interesting interesting legal situation with a church we used to attend. And so we're going to try to gently and wisely get into those because they're important.
We are also planning here in the next weeks to be filing personal bankruptcy to wrap up tens of millions of dollars of claims and counterclaims in a transparent public process to Hopefully, I get justice for all those there's, hundreds of families and companies that were all impacted by this.
And so that's a little bit of the process. So as we learned last time, Bill's an attorney that I've been working with a wise, creative, strategic advisor, that's been walking with me through this process over the last five years. And so we're going to try to. Wisely navigate into some waters here today and publicly discuss a little bit of our story and our encounters and what we've all learned through the way.
So with that, I will pass the baton back to Bill and Bill, thanks again for being here for this interesting and difficult conversation to attempt to have today. Appreciate it.
Bill Larson: Yeah. Thank you, Jordan. It's good to be here. And sometimes our conversations take a turn into elements and pathways that are painful.
It's painful to recall experiences we've had, but it's also useful to recall what we've learned from those things. One thing that I've learned over the course of a few years of life and professional experience is that not everybody is looking for the same things in life. We talk about creating a better world.
And for those who are unhappy with the world as it is, that's an appealing thought. But there are definitely people who like the world as it is. They may want the dysfunctions in society. They may benefit from them. And so the question arises, how do you deal with that? And with missile, with almost diametrically opposed aims, the owners of the coal mines and the And in the West Virginia in the last century had company towns and they didn't have any incentive from their perspective of giving people more than what was just barely needed to survive.
You could call that coal handcuffs. We have golden handcuffs now where a manipulative owner will prevent people in the, in an organization from benefiting from their labor unless they stay in a situation that is essentially uncomfortable and dysfunctional. I was in a situation like that with an investment banking firm.
A person could work for two years on a project and if they had to leave the organization, they wouldn't see a penny of benefit. They had golden handcuffs to stay in an essentially low wage situation with low commissions and an exploitive owner. You mentioned last time the phrase, the pedagogy of trust.
There's, there are books and papers galore about trust, and I think that it would be good to explore the idea of trust before we talk about people that we can't trust. So let's launch into that discussion first and see where that takes us, because sometimes I have found that when I approach my own misfortunes from a different angle, I discovered to my great surprise that I can't blame people who know no better.
I have to blame myself for choosing to get involved with them or for missing something. I learned something so profound that I don't ever want to not have that insight later. And it's one situation I was in, I had a business partner whose actions undermining our efforts and stealing something cost me.
Over a million dollars over the course of two years, and I was left holding the bag. But later, as I started to explore my own codependency and even went for some counseling, I realized that I had my part. I had trusted him, and I wondered, then, why did I trust him? And that led me down a pathway of self discovery that I wouldn't exchange for anything.
It allowed me to align with some of the things my wife has gone through and we together can share a common language of codependency and some of the manifestations of that in different organizations and in different relationships. So simply, how would you define trust?
Jordan Nicholas: Trust
feels something like a condition that arises or can be present between two agents. If a certain set of conditions are met and something like that, and it's something like the, it's an enabling mechanism, right? It's absence causes things to break down and its presence. lubricates and fuels forward movement.
There's a popular book called The Speed of Trust. So it's almost like a, it's like an element or a lubricant in a system that allows certain functions to occur based on mutual regard and understanding about purpose, intention, rules of the game, codes of conduct, what we're here to do together and why that enables us to be able to work together in ways that are far less.
Guarded, transactional, and far more unified and cooperative. When my
Bill Larson: daughter was a very little girl, we taught her to be generous. And then we would try to help homeless people, and then we had to teach her how to discern whether someone was just scamming or not. That was a hard one. I didn't want her to teach her to be isolated and stingy.
So the best I could come up with was to look in their eyes. And tried to discern if they were telling the truth. I said, sometimes we make a mistake and we trust someone who doesn't have good intentions. But we try our best, we act out in generosity, and then we move on. And if we can trust someone, it'll bear itself up.
But sometimes we don't have the opportunity to determine that. So one time, we lived in Seattle. We had come across the ferry we were walking on, so we were leaving on the footbridge up into... The second block up the hill from the ferry in Seattle, there's a long bridge that leaves the second deck and hits the second street up.
So we were walking down that and we looked around and Christina was nowhere to be found. And this walkway, this bridge, was like two blocks long. And we were, alarmed right away. We looked back. And here she was squatting down with her little pink purse. I think she was like, Probably seven or eight years old, maybe, probably eight.
She was squatting down in front of a young homeless guy who was cross legged on the surface of the street there, the, this bridge, with a little cup next to him looking for donations. And he was very quiet, looked very sad, and she was staring into his eyes. And we watched her for a minute and finally she pulled out her little pink purse and she took out a dollar.
And she put it in his cup, and she came running up to us. And we said, what were you doing, Christina? And she said, I was trying to see if he was telling the truth, and I think he was. And that's the best we can do. Sometimes we run into people who have great power, and they have the ability to persuade us that they're telling the truth.
And maybe they aren't. But we have to keep going on. But we learn. How do we know, at that higher level, how that we can trust somebody? You've run into the need to trust people in the construction industry. You call in subs and you deal with an owner and might be the state, it might be a county, it might be a large church, a big organization.
How do you determine if you can trust someone, especially if it's a one off? You have one job here and then another job there.
Jordan Nicholas: I haven't found a good way to do that. The, what I've discovered is, and I think this is born out in the in the basic psychological literature, but it turns out that people can be pretty good, Deceivers for some period of time, they're and maybe that's two, three years, let's say, as a rule of thumb, where somebody can come into an environment and put on a mask and play a game, right?
Go along with the, go along with the language, go along with the mission, go along with the values, There's well known games and languages that are often attractive to people like that. And one of the unfortunate lessons is we're seeing throughout our society that oftentimes people can learn to play a game.
Maybe that game is something like politics. Maybe that game is something like religion. But you can learn the basic language of that and move, place to place, church to church, and then play that game for long enough to earn perceived trust that's subsequently violated. And one of the things when we started experiencing and learning about these things firsthand is Was, as we started telling our stories, what we heard in response, it's once you get burned by a power structure that's supposed to be there operating with near fiduciary duty, let's say, for the good of those they're serving with the highest standard of professional or spiritual care, let's say.
And then those things bite back or reveal themselves whatever you want to say, a antithetical pattern to what they should be doing is exposed. You tell that story and then all of a sudden everyone around us is pouring forth the stories of their experiences with those structures or other similar structures.
So at 30 years, 8 years old
I haven't found any reliable way. Other than through spiritual discernment and doing my best to be able to see through those periods. What it seems like you do if something can't be known, and maybe other people who have studied this for lifetimes know better than me, but my understanding of studies done even with professionally trained people for decades who specialize in interrogation or something like that, let's say, I think the literature shows that they can't tell if people lie, are lying like it's people who are good at lying can lie.
What the wisest systems seem to do is come up with protections against those first two or three years of potential deceit, right? It's like it takes some amount of time for someone to be in community and prove themselves, during which time, the world's gonna shake or challenges will arise or, the collision of that structure with the realities eventually exposes those cracks.
I think it was probably my grandmother or my grandfather who said in business, I always give the other guy the first chance to screw me, which is maybe a crass way to say that Western civilization largely operates on the presupposition of a shared rule of law, a common game and basic trust, right?
That's how we can go. That's how we can go online and click something and give money to an unknown entity and trust that what we want is going to magically appear, right? And if you violate that game too much time, then the society, the trust breaks down. And that's the whole substrate, almost, of a properly functioning society.
If you imagined a society with no trust, where no remote transactions were possible, we'd be living in a completely different world. And so I think that what I've learned was through this, what was my, I had a certain naivety and Patterning and understanding of the goodness of the world and religion and God and country and church and state and all those things.
And those structures are here and they're wonderful. And we pledge allegiance to the flag and we go to church and we assume that the people in positions of power in church and state are there is, God's representatives on earth, humbly stewarding their responsibilities in service of society and the flock, so to speak.
And so when you've never had a experience where you've been totally burned by the structures that were supposed to be there guiding and protecting, let's say, then that's I think it's almost looking back at it. It's the archetypical collision of. Youthful hope, naivety and, confidence in God and country with then the realities of structures that aren't operating like that.
And in my own case, one of the big mistakes that, that I made that you said you made in your past too, it's like you look back and go, man I put myself way out there in faith that church and state would operate in accordance with, God in the Constitution, let's say, and that it would be a just and fair game.
And so you can look back and go that was really stupid, Jordan. We all know that church and state are hopelessly corrupt at this time. How could you be so stupid to trust or believe that? And you could go, okay, this is a really big problem because either I have to go tell my daughter that everything we've been told about church and state is wrong, she's actually in a hopelessly corrupt game, and she needs to shut down that trust and protect herself because we've decided to live in a corrupt, decaying society, or We have to set society right so that she can pledge allegiance to the flag and go to church and be confident that those things are reasonably functioning in accordance with their professed values and codes, right?
I guess that's a really long answer to say that I think what I've learned is trust has to be extended in smaller provable blocks that protect society or a family or an individual from being totally exposed to potential malevolence. And that over time in proportion to demonstrated success and faithfulness or something like that, trust can grow, right?
And so it, it's. It's almost like trust is a expandable and contractible buffer that exists around each relationship and has to be constantly monitored and adjusted in proportion to how faithfully each party Thank you. Is performing, the rules of the shared code. And so it's something like that.
And so in this next go around the second phase of life, after the old world collapses, it's okay, we're going to now have a far more sophisticated understanding of. Malevolent forces that are maybe even disproportionately attracted to positions of power such as those in church and state where they find cover under the games that are being played.
And the other, the last thing, and then I'll pass the talking stick back to you is one of the saddest things that happens is it's almost like those structures almost attract and enable the rise of bad actors, let's say. And then when those bad actors are discovered, if they're discovered in church or government, let's say, church and government are so embarrassed to admit that they were just infiltrated by and that we as a church have been under leadership that's acting in a way that's totally antithetical to the Bible.
What do we do with that? And so we're tempted to go, this could ruin the church. So we're going to circle the wagons, cover up, suppress, and maybe if we have to, send the Offending pastor with a plea deal off so he can go victimize the next church, but almost never are we making it public and taking the time to hold officials to account in a public way that would be embarrassing to us, but would prevent those people from going on and harming the next the next community.
Anyway, those are some thoughts on trust and so there seems to be
a, a whole basket of social functions and responsibilities that are presently missing in our society that are allowing all these corrupt officials to function. And I'm not speaking specifically about our story. I'm speaking about the patterning of society at large, but obviously we're just seeing.
abject corruption throughout so many institutions and there's something really wrong there.
Bill Larson: You're talking about time frames and proving oneself as elements in the development of trust equation. And I'm sure anyone who's ever been a supervisor understands how somebody who is working for them or within their team needs to be proven to the extent that you know whether they can, are able to do something.
So this brings up the distinction between motive and ability. Intention and capability. Intention and skill. In that first interview. A person who's applying for a job is going to put their best foot forward. And we almost have developed a culture that rewards puffery, puffing up one's reputation. Look at people on LinkedIn with all their, accolades and people who put the right thing forward in their resume, and they're afraid to be honest about whether they really want to do a certain thing.
So they're looking for a job, and... They puff up what they think is being looked for. So you end up discovering that they can't really do the job. And that's a frustration. And a good employer can say, look this isn't a good fit for you, but let's be honest about what you can do.
We'll help you find that. But most don't do that. They just fire them. So this is. Trust in leaders and trust in followers are two different things, but they each require a testing period. So you're talking about leaders that have the ability to harm a larger group of people with their, either their negligence, their incompetency, hiding that intentionally.
Or maybe they're naive, or they are malevolent and intend evil. When someone has hurt you have to respond somehow. And there's the issue of forgiveness, that's a whole other subject, and the issue of trust, and a lot of people conflate those two. They think you forgive someone. You forgave me.
Now you have to trust me. No, it doesn't work that way. But this idea of the power differential let's focus more on people who are in power and have the ability to harm many. You've, we could go into how to be a good leader and how to encourage people to find their place of their gifts and how to be transparent and not feel punished for that.
That's a whole nother subject, getting people to be transparent. Let's deal with how do you deal with leaders in a system, any given system, it can be an organization, it can be a governmental unit where they have, there's a power differential. And so how do we, how do you look at somebody who is harming others?
Do you have a duty to take the hit and move on? Alternatively, what if he becomes obsessed? And you're trying to get even. How do you sort the emotions of that out? And where does trying to get even cease being helpful? See what I'm saying? Yeah, absolutely. You've got to get rid of the emotions before you can actually confront a system.
Because if you're looking for vindication and revenge, something's going to go awry. But yeah, we have to call leaders to account. Let's talk about that a little bit.
Jordan Nicholas: This is where I think the proper mode of being and all these things can only be understood relative to our feeble attempts to as faithfully as we can embody something like the spirit of God.
Like it's how would the spirit of God handle that? What do we see that is the the most faithful way that we can be? And so the, let's say that we could say something like speak truth and love, right? So that's right along those same lines, right? Because we can speak something that might be true, but do it in a, bitter, vindictive divisive way and we're violating that norm.
I think it's the same when we encounter structures of injustice. We know that if we react right, and then we are. We are acting out of essentially selfish vindictiveness. That's fueling a pattern that's antithetical to that which is impelled by the Spirit of God. But, let me I'll share a story that I thought was interesting, because we had to grapple so deeply with this, Profound question.
What is our responsibility relative to structures of injustice when they afflict us, right? At so many points along our journey, we were offered outs. We could have stopped saying for instance, I had a pastor sitting in my backyard saying, look, we've already told you that we will relieve this burden and that's going to be pretty difficult for us if you continue to tell members of the congregation that you're being treated unfairly.
So we'd suggest you shut up and get with the program and we'll take our feet off your neck, basically, right? And it's okay that's really attractive. We were then, later here we will tear up this note of everything that, that we are holding over your head, just sign this paper saying you won't talk about it.
No. So we're, so when it's like, what is our ethical and moral duty? And is it okay to go take our own safety? Okay, that was scary. Like we just bumped up against a dragon. Let's quickly take the offer of peace and go back on the way and leave the domain. But something really interesting happened, which was After we encountered those and then started seeking wisdom, right?
So you can imagine that a naive consciousness who encounters a pattern that's acting antithetical to what it's supposed to be doing. It's first, you're in absolute shock. No, it's impossible. This can't be happening, right? It, in whenever that was January or February, maybe that's 20, 2020, 20, 2020, whatever that moment is. When all of a sudden you realize that on your two largest projects, one force of religion and one force of government simultaneously have manifested, and you realize that their intent is is malevolent and will result in your destruction, it's Okay, we could quickly run away from that and just seek our own safety, right?
So we started seeking wisdom and it was really interesting what happened, right? It's like calling up clients going, Hey, I got really bad news, but we're in a, we're in a terrible financial position because county government officials have told us that they will put us out of business. This will be our last job and they don't appreciate the light we're shining into the dark bureaucracy.
Our performance is going to be suffering. We might have, it's okay. So then you're trying to figure out how you're going to survive while you're in this encounter and what you hear in return is, Oh my gosh, yeah, that County is one of the most corrupt counties in the nation. I remember I was building an airport and the FBI came into one of our meetings and raided the job and blah, blah, blah.
So person after person that you're going, Hey, we're in trouble with this corrupt County. Person after person is coming back going, Oh yeah, I'm so sorry. I know I was there. It happened to me, whatever, right? Same thing with the same thing with the forces of religion. All of a sudden you're talking to people really close to the situation going, man, I'd be careful.
I've come to think that those people are evil and you need to be careful. Wow. Like we all knew about this. I thought I was going to church. And it turns out there's a whole group of people that knew about this, that have experienced the pattern over time and because of threats made against them or risk to their family are not willing to stand up.
So we had to really grapple with that. It's are we going to keep going down this road and how long do we stay locked in it? And when does it become stupid? Not just to protect your family. But then as I like laid awake at two a. m. Night after night, thinking and praying about these things, it's man, these problems compound over time.
And if the very first people that figured out that this was dreadfully wrong and antithetical to the way things were supposed to be working would have put a stop to it right there. Those structures wouldn't have been in place, 10 years later to inflict this suffering on my family. So if we just go back and take our own safety and get out of this stranglehold, we're basically not only betraying truth and submitting to the demands for silence and submission from corrupt powers, we're then strengthening those powers and leaving them in place to afflict the next families, right?
It's okay, we're going to go away and go to another church. And meanwhile. Like welcome visitors come through the doors. And there's no it doesn't stop. So it was fascinating then going, how is it that these structures survive so long? Like why? And then you start looking at the cases where let's say there's been an abusive, let's say there's a sports trainer who's sexually abusing women for a decade.
And then it finally comes out and breaks and it's like, how could that possibly continue? When you walk through those waters, you realize how it can continue because the system can make life hell for those. And so basically it just it's it takes so much to build up before finally it breaks and finally, the me too movement happens.
And everybody's then finally standing up validating, but meanwhile, it's man, one, one of our good friends was was raped when she was a very young singer by a very famous person in the music industry. And it's you speak to that and the, and it's close ranks and crucify the victim, right?
And it's you watch that happen. It's like, how can that possibly go on? And why do we tolerate this as a society? So anyway, once you step back, then it's okay, this is not out of we've already laid everything down and Money is nothing like resources don't matter like we're here on this earth for God's purpose and intention and Love like the pure motive force of love for future generations Demands that we like now wherever we are deal with these issues, right?
It's the it's the only thing to do and there's a saying that says when's the best time to kill a dragon And it's when you first bind it, because every day it's getting bigger, right? So it's a question like, okay our government is abjectly corrupt. And, society's falling apart Emma, my 14 year old daughter, I'm sorry sweetie, I'm too scared, so I'm gonna leave this dragon another 20 years until it shows up on your doorstep and you deal with it.
I can't, I can't tell you how many times I heard, man I'm so sorry, this is all happening to you, I'm just glad my generation didn't have to deal with it, I'm glad it's your problem, not ours, it's Okay. Thank you for leaving this problem on our doorstep.
And I don't think that our generation should do that to our daughters. And let's stand up and see how it might be possible to confront these giants.
Bill Larson: There's, I don't know if I've mentioned this to you, but Scott Peck, the famous psychiatrist wrote many books. He wrote a road less traveled and that became a bestseller and it's used often in a. and Elinon circles to come to grips with what life is really taking the harder road that the discipline of love means I have to work hard to love somebody.
It's work. If it's, if he talks about how if you're just going by the feelings of affection and falling in love and all that. That's. That's cathexis, that's not love. And that's what a lot of people mistake for love in our society but people also mistake benefit for goodness. So here you have people who benefit from a system that rewards their complicity, rewards their quiet.
It reminds me of, this. I looked it up here. There's this known text written by it's a Martin Niemöller, and there's a Lutheran pastor during the time of the Nazis. And he wrote this powerful statement in English. It's, first they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unions and I did not speak out. Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me. This is very moving, when you, if you've ever visited one of the Holocaust memorials there's one in L.
A. that's dedicated for the, to the children that died in the Holocaust, and millions of children, and there's a, There's either a, I've been there, and it's either a name or a little identifying component, I think this is our name of the little hole, and you can write a little prayer, roll it up and stick it in the hole, and it's just walls after walls of these little holes.
That's what happens when evil is allowed to hang on to power. So if we're trying to build a better world, this is going to require collaboration, right? And how much trust does it take to really collaborate together to make a difference? It boils down to that. If you want to build a better world, you have to confront some injustice or wrong or, Phil, clean up the environment, clean up...
There's a lot of cleansing to do in an organization that has dysfunction in it or evil power structures. There's so much work to be done. But if we are comfortable, we might just think, don't bother me. I've got my retirement set, so how do we, how do you build the trust and how do you build the desire to get involved to co create a better world when people are satisfied?
Jordan Nicholas: It's one of the important things in, in,
yeah, our story is one of many much worse stories around the world. But one of the, one of the important things to knowledge about acknowledge about our story is. We were entirely complicit in fueling the whole system that took us down, right? It's I was helping to build this church and in the act of being a part of it, right?
I looked back, I look back like with absolute there's these exhortations and scripture like, when a rich man comes in, don't give him the seat of honor, right? And it's I look back and go, man. That reserve table at the front of the men's breakfast I was always waved up to it, right?
That's exact embodiment of me being complicit with these leaders. And it's man I before God, I am sorry for ever sitting at the reserve table at the front of the men's breakfast, right? It's that is the last place I ever want to be again in my life, right? It's as
the same systems that ultimately did not like the revelation of their corruption, right? It's a year later, a year earlier, I'm standing on top of a dam that we built getting, separate formal plaques and awards from the county board of supervisors from the California State Senate, from the California legislature's man, this is fantastic, right? It's like those relationships and complicities are very fragile if they're fundamentally founded on untruth, right? And will not tolerate the exposure of truth. Those same systems that heap awards on you, go to the next job. It's oh, oops.
When I agreed to help the top executives solve the big problems that were threatening them politically, I didn't realize there's a whole dark substructure to this thing. And guess what? We're the enemy now, right? And so it's you're emotional reading of of that text, right? I hear MLK's spirit in that as well, right?
He was constantly saying that. He's man, I can understand the ignorant and an evil people afflicting us, right? I can love them. I can pray for them. What brings the anger is people of goodwill who are complacently standing on the sidelines. What are you doing? How are all of us who count ourselves among the people of goodwill standing idly by on the sidelines as all of this Injustice and evil is manifest throughout our society, like where is the army that should be standing up together as one body and saying, no, we will not tolerate this.
This is not how we do things around here, right? It's and that's the other side of all this is I learned about trying to organize and hold people together, right? You learn that culture is more important than almost anything like it. It's almost like the cause that then causes it's what is it?
It's the not the cause. It's like the fundamental condition or greenhouse that the healthy growth is nested within and nurtured by something like that. And one of the things that I learned about culture is that a lot of culture is about what you tolerate and don't tolerate. It's like when everybody comes in with good intent.
But if you're if you. Consistently tolerate the manifestation of a certain pattern of behavior. It will take root, right? And that will become part of the culture. Let's say you hire somebody and they come in and the first time they manifest a certain antithetical pattern of behavior, everybody around them says, no, that's not how we do it.
So if you would like to remain in this meeting you're going to change. And if that's not a good fit for you, like no problem, there's the door. But I'm around here, we have a sacred environment and we don't tolerate that. So you, I look around at our society again, our structures, our institutions.
It's like, how did we come to tolerate? The total possession of the institutions we look to, to trust, to hope will lead and guide us faithfully onward towards the goal. How did we tolerate them becoming totally possessed by whatever, whatever you want to call parasitical forces that abuse positions of power for their own self interested gain.
Malevolence, I don't think is too strong of a word, but it's that's, it's the spirit that's antithetical to the Spirit of God. I've been,
Bill Larson: I worked in higher education for several years. I was general counsel for a private university. And I saw waste, injustice, abuse of power. At a very interesting level.
But it's, it got me thinking about higher education generally. So we have a system, this might seem like a segue, but we'll, we're coming back to this thing here. Athletic director, now I'm going to step on a few toes here. If an athletic director is making a million dollars a year, or the coach for a football team, And the professors are making a tiny fraction of that.
What does it tell us about our values? But look how, look at the people who nurse at the teats of that cow. There are people who have their retirement vested there, they want their people in. in the endowment and the fundraising departments. And they make their living raising funds for these big projects, building huge buildings instead of investing in lives.
Look at Malcolm Gladwell's work on, on, the higher education and, he's his book. I hate the Ivy league. I recommend it for anyone who wonders if there's anything. A miss in higher education and missing the people who really need to be educated. And that's the ones who can't get access.
And so it, you have this power structure that feeds so many people. And I would just like to then contrast what we see as needing some change. Maybe a lot of change, maybe a little, maybe radical, maybe adjustment, maybe a cleansing. There are areas that many will agree this needs to change, but they don't want to do much about it because they feel like, oh, it's just overwhelming, it's so hard.
And then I want to bring up this, you become what you hate. If you hate something strong enough, you will become like it. And the worst example was during the early part of COVID when you had protests going on and they were. Anarchistic. When a protest starts burning a community and it's being burnt by the representatives of that community, there's something wrong.
Anarchy leads to rioting and false solutions. But people are frustrated because it's hard to change this inertia of systems and of structures and of economic engines that are It's very hard to even tune, even adjust at all. The inertia is so high. It's a call to believe that the long term solution for anything is very important and building a community towards that.
So let's talk about how do you take this, the pain, the legitimate anger, the sense of injustice in seeing something done wrong, seeing something oppress people, seeing something that's. allowed to persist because so many people are simply tacitly approving it. And how do you Make, bring change into the, into this world of high inertia.
How do you develop patience in people?
Jordan Nicholas: There's a to respond to a couple of different parts of that. The way that you don't become possessed by hate is to hate evil out of love, right? There's a in scripture, you find things like God hates those who sow division among the brothers. God hates evil, right?
So there's a Goodness will inherently hate, but it will hate out of love, right? It's the same thing we talked about earlier. It's if we're, if we hate the evil and corruption and injustice and dysfunction tearing apart our society and inflicting what... Will become hell for future generations. If we don't write it, if we hate that with a righteous anger fueled by deep love and the desire for every child and every subsequent generation to have a fair opportunity to develop towards the fullness of their potential and flourish in a healthy, beautiful, good environment, then it's like that's a healthy hatred and it should impulse.
It should drive us, but always governed by love, right? That's Again, you see the beautiful examples of that, I think, in in some of the things that, that people like MLK or Gandhi would say in their struggles against hateful conditions, right? But it's a struggle fueled by love and the spirit of God and the deep desire for justice.
Okay, so that's one thing. So let's say that whether or not you've been afflicted. Yet by it, that which afflicted me and my family, if it can happen to us can happen to you. And it's getting more pervasive over time. So at some point, it's almost there's a progressive wake and awakening the worse and more painful things get as a result of the corruption and dysfunction we're tolerating.
And it's okay that's not really that bad yet. I'm sitting here in my my wealth and shoot. If I challenge this structure that I finally climbed to the top of, like you mentioned, being general counsel for a university that was not operating quite quickly. It's that's a conflict, right?
Because my healthcare, my salary, my family's wellbeing, maybe my position in society, like when I go to these events and conferences, I'm at the events and conferences because I'm the general counsel of a well respected university. So if I challenged this structure. I might be tearing down my own life and identity really so people become nested inside of corrupt structures that they've climbed up a couple rungs of the pyramid and now it's shoot, my identity, my position, my regard in society is largely based around this like I sometimes feel bad for people who.
I think that 99 percent of Americans now know that both political parties are abjectly corrupt and collusive and leading us in terrible directions, and neither one can fit, and if God hates those who are deceitful and sow division among the brethren, then two parties Openly deceiving and using propaganda to tear a nation apart are probably hateful in the sight of God.
So let's say that 99 percent of us know that now, and I don't think when I was young, I don't think we knew that. I think the people around me who were in good faith, clinging to whatever, it was good faith, we didn't know. But now we know, right?
Bill Larson: While you're searching for the next word, I have to make this one comment. Please. I did. resist the deceptions and the manipulations and I got fired for it. Yeah. For three and a half years. And it, and then I discovered there was a whole community of people who have been fired because they got in the president's way,
Jordan Nicholas: the best people, it's the same thing with, yeah, it's the same thing with the county.
It's the same thing with the church. It's the same pattern of these people who get into their positions of power rise up. And as soon as you challenge too much, you're out and it's dangerous to confront it. It's especially, it's, I see. I'm going to say something difficult, which is I see this as a massive problem in the Christian community right now, because it's like, if you've made your career as a, whatever, a pastor, an assistant pastor, a well regarded member of the Christian community, and all of a sudden you find yourself in one of those positions, and then it's man, if I make a big mess of this no other leader or pastor is ever going to want me again, right?
It's like now I'm the black sheep, right? So we end up just Tolerating all of these structures because the structure itself doesn't want to undergo the embarrassment of admitting it's wrong. The people involved don't want to believe that it's wrong. And then the people burned by it don't want the risk of challenging it, right?
It's so it just, it stands, right? And then the crucible that you have to go through. Okay so coming back to Coming back to your question from a few minutes ago that I think was something like how you transform this awakening realization into positive action fueled by love in the spirit of God to vanquish the chaos and corruption and injustice that's besetting us.
and establish something better, right? There's like a proactive, necessary transformation that needs to occur to confront and overcome what doesn't belong and co create that which does, right? That's the transformation of society, right? And it happens at every single fractal level from the revelation in my own heart and life of things that could be better and need to be transformed to how it works in a family to in all these different structures, right?
So again, I've been running experiments for the last five years now, and I don't know, I haven't found the answer yet, because what I've discovered is you can, there's so many people like Three years ago, I felt super lonely. I feel super lonely today in this struggle often. But three years ago, it was super, super lonely.
Because over the last three years, I've found a network of hundreds of people who I now personally know who are at least aligned and resonant with the spirit, understand the deep issues we're up against, and at least intellectually assent to the idea that we ought to come together as a body to sort it out, right?
I've also discovered that I deeply hoped,
I think I'm going to tell, I think I'm going to try in just a few minutes to tell the story of the last few years of trying to coalesce action around this. And why we're doing this now. So five to seven years ago, I didn't have anyone in my life that I was talking about worksite earth as a whole, not as some impossibly big domain that was hopeless to ever deal with, but as a small finite, Self contained bubble floating through space that if we wanted to as a human species, we could easily transform it in our lifetimes and that's where we're co creating all the conditions and manifestations we see.
So we could choose to be spiritually transformed and operate different, cooperate differently and bring a different air into existence. And I had zero people in my life other than my wife, who I talked about this since I was 14 with. And so I tried to start finding people, and that's a funny experience when you start talking about the transformation of Earth over a short period of time.
There's not a whole lot of people who are immediately resonant with that. But one thing it does is, somebody will be like, Oh my gosh, I know another crazy person that's thinking about that. You should talk to this person, right? And so a few people would say, Oh my gosh, this is one of the wisest men I've ever met.
He's done things at scale, like I'll connect you guys and you guys would have an amazing conversation. And so slowly you start finding people. And so with those few people, we started trying to figure out, like we talked about a little bit in the last interview, we started trying to figure out the critical path.
It's okay the time for this is going to be somewhere down the road. And there's a whole bunch of difficult things that if we were going to try to do this five or seven years down the road, we wouldn't, we could get like years of foundation and groundwork done. And so we started figuring out legal and governance and structure and values and all those things and how you would operate them as a system of systems that could be practically applied around the earth and blah, blah, blah.
And so we figured that out. Then it's okay if. There's a vision in there's a vision in, I think Ezekiel you might know Bill, but it's the Valley of Dry Bones, right? And it's the idea of scattered, dry, apparently lifeless bones strewn through the valley. And as the prophetic voice speaks, what happens is, what happens when the Spirit of God speaks is that all that life, rises up and comes into form and pretty soon we're an army.
And so it's okay we know that all over the earth. There are absolutely brilliant, heroic, self sacrificial people who have been working for decades on tirelessly on the front lines of every single problem and battle to make our world a better place. And we, I was lucky enough to get to travel through dozens of countries and meet so many beautiful souls struggling in the face of the symptoms of our social disorder that they were witnessing.
But it's like the drop, the body of dry bones. It's if the valley of dry bones, if we're meant to be a body and some of us are hands and some of us are feet and some of us belong to different organ systems and we have different skills and specializations, but we're all distributed around the earth and disconnected from each other and we don't know each other exists.
Then we're not functioning as a body. We're all struggling in scarcity and isolation. So it's okay how do you connect up a body? And so we had the visual image of a backbone and it's okay, and maybe we can use technology to form a backbone that could start to connect up and empower a bunch of And so we couldn't find one that couldn't be shut down by the collusive powers that be.
And so we built on somebody's previous decade of work and funded the creation of a backbone platform and technology that's now capable of connecting up billions around billions of people around the world if people of goodwill choose to use it. So then. We started running some social experiments and we don't have language for any of this.
It's what do you call our collective effort to meet this moment in history as a human species, sort out our issues in 200 nation States around the world, and before it's too late, try to set things back in order so that we don't blow ourselves in our environment. So we don't really have language around that.
And in religious language, you could say let's let's labor together towards the kingdom of God or, whatever. And then we've poisoned. The word God and we've poisoned religion. And so it's you say any of these things and they cause reactant. So I started trying to search out language as inadequate as it might be.
It's okay we might need a new language for how we're going to talk about this. And so we're facing this total series of crises. What is the total nested hierarchy of crises flowing from the same root causes called? And it's maybe we could call that something like a meta crisis. And it's okay, now around the world, we have a total nested set of individually valuable and necessary projects that need to be done to confront and overcome absolutely every single one of these issues. What do you call the overall project of projects that all humanity needs to engage it? Maybe we could call that something like a meta project.
I reached out to 60 or 70 people, whatever, and said, Hey, what if we were all intended to be part of A meta project that was bigger than any one of us, but was just simply the effort that human beings around the world are being impelled to undertake together to meet the needs and solve the problems at hand and co create a functional future.
And that was able to resonate with some people. It was many people it didn't resonate with and thought it was insane. And, there was, a core group of people who were deeply resonant, immediately understood, and were willing to engage for a year, in, in meetings and discussions and vetting and strategy and and so we went from a small group of people to getting to go through, a year long experiment of exploring the concept of a meta project that would encompass, it would encompass people of goodwill and empower them around the world to get out of scarcity and isolation and into collective action.
Then what we predict could happen. And it's okay that's too abstract. We now need to start coordinating your actions and writing checks and gathering resources, because we can't all do this in our spare time. So then we ran another couple experiments around Lyonsburg, the structure that we created and were forced to name when we needed to set up legal entities and bank accounts and those different things.
And so you can ignore the name Lyonsburg. It's just what. It's just what we created in order to be able to facilitate this mission and have the infrastructure and technology in place and ready to go in advance. But even then, we were dealing with the same, it's like a lower level of abstraction, but it's still too big, still too abstract, still not that actionable and still confusing for the vast majority of people.
And so the reason that we're doing these first couple of series of podcasts is what I learned over the last, what I hoped over that would happen over the last couple of years is I hoped after networking out and finding around the world, these different pockets and networks and people who all intellectually assented to the idea that we need to be working together.
I hoped that through convening, we'd be able to cross those networks and become what we're trying to become, to start to embody and act that out. But in the process of that, it's yeah we don't know how to do that as a human species yet. We just don't, because what happens is everybody comes together, says, yes, let's work together.
We need to, it's an emergency. The future of everything is at stake. Like more than 99 percent of people know is at stake and it is urgent. So we should work together. And as soon as we have the resources. We'll come back together and work together. So then everybody scatters to go work on their issue that they're solving or their thing that they've named or whatever.
So what we're attempting to do through this series now is speak a spirit, speak a message, speak a voice, and just hope that resonant souls will respond. So if you resonate please respond. Hit subscribe, go to jordannicholas. org and sign up, join the movement, right? What does that do, right?
So we're talking about how we get people to get together. My current hypothesis is that. We need to get out of all these not get out. What do we need to do? We still need to celebrate all these individuated pockets of name things that we've started and created. Cause they're all unique, valuable, and good.
Each one resonates with a different local audience. Each named thing can gather a unique group of a hundred people around it that no, nothing else can speak to, and at the same time, if we have a hundred different networks or groups of change makers. And each one has twenty or a hundred people around it.
We have to figure out how we're going to forge a body out of all those. And we're going to have to do that as individuals, probably not as groups. Because each group, we've discovered, has its own. If I was going to go try to partner with the university that Bill used to work at, it would take like an act of the board to figure out if our, if everything's kapalala.
If I speak and Bill resonates and we decide we're going to move together, we can decide that tomorrow. We, the people, as individuals outside of these structures of control can just wake up and decide we're going to move together. And so what we're trying to do with this is go, okay, we're going to speak as faithfully as we can a message.
We're going to invite those who resonate to respond. We're going to connect those people into a list or a community or whatever it becomes of resonant people who hopefully can trust. Trust, start to trust, extend a little bit of trust to one another because they're all resonant with the same spirit and voice.
That might be enough to move and to start to get the critical mass. And if we can get that resonant group out to, let's say, 1, 000 people, the first 1, 000 people who are willing to show up and read a weekly email and listen to something once a week and maybe contribute something. Then all of a sudden we have the resources to be able to grow and serve and move that community forward.
And if we can hit 1, 000, that 1, 000 can win the hearts and minds of 1 percent of the population. If we can win the hearts and minds of 1 percent of the population, that 1 percent is looked to and admired by 3 percent of the population. And what I can tell from the social literature and spiritual movements in the past, which this inherently has to be, essentially, is that if you can win the hearts and minds of 3 percent of the population, There's another 5 percent looking with admiration at them who comes and the tipping point starts right and pretty soon you pull the center and then that brings us to the people who are embedded in and benefiting from the systems that as they are and you could imagine that on that tipping point strategy, can you find a thousand resonant people who care enough to sign up and follow along and Without knowing long for whatever that thousand can do together in the future, right?
That's a seems like a low bar. I pray that we can hit that bar. That's the first most 1000 resonant people. You could imagine all the way at the other side. There's the 1000 least resonant people, most wanting the existing systems to stay how they are or to crumble so they can establish an alternate order of totalitarian control, whatever it is, right?
And then you work in from each side. It's so that thousand is going to pull one percent. You can imagine that next to the antithetical one thousand, first one thousand, there's one percent of the population that's going to be till the very end, fighting this with sticks and stones and weapons.
And so it's but you ignore that. It doesn't matter. You don't have to figure out how you're gonna win the hearts and minds of the last 1 percent until you've won the hearts and minds of the first 99%. And to do that, all you have to do is just win the hearts and minds of those around us who we think might resonate with this and who are fed up and won't tolerate the way things are and are committed to working together and sacrificing to bring forth a better future for our children and grandchildren, their grandchildren.
That's a long answer to how I think we might get working together.
Bill Larson: That's a good note to end on because it's the note that kind of raises questions for the next set of talks. And one of them is, how do you build something that doesn't re establish a power structure that can be co opted once again?
And and that kind of points back towards Mondragon and different examples. They've done something that doesn't create a power structure that can be co opted. And what we've analyzed and built and pr proposed over the past several years, I think for people who are interested. That's going to be an interesting discussion.
Anyways, thanks Jordan. Great talk today.
Jordan Nicholas: Yeah, absolutely.
Do you have Do you have another 10 minutes? Can we pull a couple more threads? Or do you need to bounce?
Bill Larson: Yeah, I have a little more time.
Jordan Nicholas: I want to
I think that would be a good, let's do a part three if you're up for it, and let's talk about that. Let's talk about how to, if we start bringing lots of people together. How that new movement towards liberty and truth and justice and all those good things isn't once again, corrupted and cooperate, co opted like our American experiment has been right and not, and thinking beyond, it's like those of us who are resonant right now don't really have to worry about it because maybe we think we're all good people and we would never let that happen.
When you're building systems like this, you see what happened when we started America and then it's like you have to worry what happens 200 or 300 or 500 years later when the thing's grown and, it's, I think a lot of people don't realize that when America was started, the population of the 13 sovereignties that came together as a federation, I think we're somewhere, I think the smallest was maybe 60, 000 people.
Yeah. The largest was maybe 700,000 people. Average size was maybe 200 to 300 people. So the start of the American experiment was self-governing groups of, 50 to a few hundred thousand people who were self-governing and made their decisions at the state level who decided to establish a very limited federal government.
And it's nothing like what our experiment has turned out to be. So we have a couple fronts, which is. We need to figure out how we're going to a lot of people think the American experiment is so corrupted that it's over and it's just going to fail. I passionately believe that might inflict generations of suffering and chaos and catastrophe and worse corruption and worse violence and authoritarian control if we don't handle it in a proper matter.
So it's if we all realize that the American experiment is divided against itself, insane and failing, then maybe we should consciously transform it, and maybe we should do that really quickly before it's too late. So there's all these different fronts, but something I want to come back to a couple things.
In a bunch of my conversations, On what's next, there's a massive debate on whether, I'm intentionally setting up a false dichotomy, on whether we work on transforming the old systems. Or working wholeheartedly on co creating the best possible thing we can for the future. So that's a whole topic for an interesting panel discussion, maybe.
The thing I want to say about that quickly is that the first several years of my work on this were completely rooted in the realization that no solution could come from the existing corrupted institutions that are creating the problems. And that it's something that you learn on joint ventures.
If there's something that needs a massive collaboration, cause it's too big for any one entity to do, you need to set up a clean white structure of collaboration where. All the different groups can retain their individual and local sovereignty, autonomy, mission, language, while becoming part of a outside structure that allows them to achieve together what they can't achieve in isolation.
And, if we do a really good job of that, it's going to work better. But, if the old systems collapse before we create that new thing, that's where periods of dark ages come in. And so I want to have really deep conversations. Yes, we need to meet outside and co create this best possible thing, and I don't think we even could conceptualize what a meltdown of our supply chains and food systems and systems of, yes, our governments are inadequate and corrupt, and they are keeping tremendous evil at bay, right?
And so it's like, how do we protect, transform, hospice the ones that need to go away with grace and love? But in a responsible transition like manner, the other thing that I just want to quickly speak to is that if anybody would like to know about our path and more detail you'll have some confusing elements to it because we have a.
We have a life lived for 35 years in a local community. And then all of a sudden you have chaos, catastrophe, collapse, tens of millions of dollars of claims and counterclaims and a bankruptcy. We wanted to speak to that briefly today to acknowledge it. Everything will be transparently available and through the court system.
If anybody would like to look at the. Lawsuit we filed against county. We can do that. My impression is that we're going to have to fight all these battles simultaneously, like we have a court system. And even if it's a little dysfunctional right now, it might be that we could go when some declaratory judgments and sort some of this stuff out and in the courts in a peaceful and just manner that would help us realign things.
There's things that can't happen through the courts, yeah. That have to happen in the legislation and not only in the legislation of the US, but in 200 different countries around the world where individual populations are struggling with these things and not just in 200 nation states, but down in the cities and the counties and the school boards and every little system of government and their own policies and procedures.
So there's a whole legislative front, and in many cases that might go up to constitutional amendments that are required to reset. experiments in some of our nations and some of our schools and some of our churches that have gone off track. And then, simultaneously, we know that if we nest our work together inside of any of the already corrupted and divisive political parties or ideologies that are vying for control and competing with each other, we're fueling the fragmentation and demise of the society that we're needing to heal.
So at the same time we're working to heal and transform these things, we need to be finding this clean, new meeting space as one. One citizenship under God, where we can come together and work together with integrity and justice and truth and in the greatest levels of harmony that we can learn how to do.
So anyway, that's that. So if you resonated with this conversation today, please, I deeply, we deeply long to be connected with you. So please go to jordannicholas. org and click join the movement. That will structurally connect you to us and make sure that we can communicate directly and in a sustained ongoing way over time without being subject to the whims of any of the big tech platforms, et cetera.
So please jordannicholas. org click join the movement and that will connect you. We'll start getting out, our intention is to start getting out weekly wrap ups or newsletters that can catch everybody up on what we're doing metrics for the movement, et cetera. Starting within the next two weeks after we have one or two more of these podcasts out.
Also please hit subscribe on YouTube or whichever of your favorite podcasting platforms you're listening to. That'll make sure you are directly notified when the next one's come out. Our intention is to be releasing these once a week to start as a basic rhythm. We'll also be trying to digest some of the clips down and get some of the meaningful parts out throughout the week.
So thank you very much for your attention and support. We know there's a lot of different ways that you can use that and we're deeply grateful for you being here. If you're a resident spirit, please please find us. We love and appreciate you Bill, love and appreciate you. So maybe in our next conversation, if you're up for a part three maybe it's not directly next, but we'll talk a little bit about structuring.
A large body of people awakening and uniting in a way that allow us to coordinate and make decisions together outside of the structures that are presently dividing us without recreating another structure that's just going to devolve into the same problems that we're trying to solve. So that's a that warrants a couple of years of discussion probably.
So we can start with a conversation in the next few weeks. All right. All right. Thanks. Much love. Thank you, Bill. Appreciate it. Thanks for guiding the conversation today.