Re: Consensus-A Time To Rethink
From: TomMOENCH (
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 95 10:08 CST
Gee, Cohousing-L is something that happens while you are living a life in
cohousing.  Playing catch-up:

Stuart wrote <Thus while making cohousing happen is exciting, and at times
joyous, it does  involve fear too.  I think this is why consensus is so
important.  In a  meeting, at the back of your mind you always know that if
the group is about  to do something crazy you can stop them. ...You don't
have the same security in a  voting system - the majority can screw-up and
there's nothing you can do.>

This is a very astute point.  We are motivated by fear to want to use
consensus.  Now don't get me wrong.  As I have stated I am a
advocate/practitioner of consensus for most of my adult life.  Using a
consensus model we successfully built cohousing here on Bainbridge Island,
Washington--both because of the model and in spite of it.  Fear, however,
does not promote consensus--aspiration does.  Fear promotes protection and
isolation.  Common aspiration promotes commitment and trust.  The paradox is
we are more willing to join a consensus group if we give ourselves the power
to use our fears to block and yet it is that very right to block that
undermines consensus -- the common aspiration -- the  "conspire" we seek.  So
is it healthy for a group over the long term to allow fear to be a limiting
factor to its growth and creativity? 

Stuart wrote <you quickly learn that blocking consensus is not something to 
do lightly.  With your power to stop the process has to come responsibility 
- you can single-handedly derail the group, as can anyone else.  It has been 
my experience here at N St that people learn not to do that.  I think this 
is a wonderful and surprising thing about people....  I have personally
blocked consensus on a decision  because I feared some bad consequence, only
to later see that my fears were  completely unjustified by actual events.  We
also learn to trust that the other people in our group are fair and
reasonable and will do the best thing  they can.  We learn to let go of our
fears - and thus the group can move  forward. >  

As Jampolsky writes, "Love is letting go of fear."  These fears and the
growth that Stuart speaks to really are remarkable part about true consensus.
 But is it necessary for a whole group to have to wait to move forward, to
make its mistakes, and to learn its lessons because one individual in say 45
is experiencing some fear?  Is it healthy for the group or the individuals
over the long term to allow fear to be a limiting factor to growth and
creativity? Each of us can deal with our fears while the group continues to
grow and express its creative spirit.  It is unethical for me to block the
will of the group to deal with my individual insecurities--enormous to me as
they are, but usually petty to others and in the long run to myself.  Letting
the group go ahead is an act of love--and courage. 

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