Re: What do we mean when we say "like-minded"?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 6 May 2020 11:48:47 -0700 (PDT)
> On May 6, 2020, at 1:45 PM, Dick Margulis <dick [at]> wrote:

> One of the lessons that has stuck with us was that to have any sort of 
> consent-based governance, everyone in the community must subscribe to a set 
> of shared values. (Aside: without already having a written set of values on 
> which to base decision making, it took us a year to write the document, but I 
> digress).

About consent in sociocracy, Gerard Endenburg states this as "common aims." You 
have to all be working toward the same outcome. If your aim is to disrupt 
congress and my aim is to reform congress, it is unlikely that we can use 
consensus decision-making very much of the time.

One of the things that confuses people when I’m making a consensus decision is 
that I want to know just as much about why people consent as about why they 
object. People are required to explain objections so they can be resolved but 
what if people are consenting in order to produce a bad decision that will 
bring about the opposite result? I want to know that. Or consenting because 
they know they aren’t going to follow the decision and no one will enforce it.

Something like this happened recently in relation to Jerusalem. Two religious 
groups joined together to support an action in favor of a unified Jerusalem. 
One was a Jewish organization and the other a conservative, radical Christian 
organization. The Jewish organization supported it to build a stronger Israel. 
The Christian organization was supporting it because the bible says that when 
the Jews are united and rule the world, they will all be smitten down. (My 

Why would these two organizations want to work together?

Gerard's other two conditions for consensus decision-making are ability and 
willingness to spend the time required to develop a solution everyone can 
accept, and an agreement to make decisions with all the members of the group.

He actually didn’t believe we could use consensus decision-making in cohousing 
because we can’t choose who we make decisions with. So far this hasn’t been a 
huge issue since the people who are interested in cohousing have many values in 
common or they would never consider moving in. When cohousing becomes more 
mainstream, this might change.

> The corollary, which he made crystal clear, is that whatever that set of 
> shared values is, individuals are still entitled to their personal values; 
> they just have to agree to behave in the group in a way that is consistent 
> with the shared values.

Gerard would link this to a cycle of deciding, doing, evaluating so decisions 
are improved over time to produce results closer to their aim.

> As others before Oliver Wendell Holmes said, yes this is a free country, and 
> you have the right to swing your arm, but that right ends where the other 
> person's nose begins. If we all agree on that underlying principle and use it 
> to guide our own behavior, that goes a long way toward defining what it means 
> to be a community of like-minded individuals.

On “like-minded”. I’ve tried to do research on this phrase but can’t find a 
source. In the 1950-60s in the south “like-minded” was a way to discuss 
excluding blacks without saying it. I was a student in Kansas City in 1961 when 
I first heard this phrase. The museum ladies were meeting in the office to 
discuss raising funds for the art school I was attending. They needed more 
members. One lady said in her finishing school voice, "And what do we do if a 
person with a sweet-southern voice calls to ask about membership? Are we all 
like-minded about this?” 

I was compiling a mailing in the corner and stopped to wonder what this meant. 
Kansas City like Washington DC is one of those places that talks northern but 
acts southern but I didn’t know that yet. I was a Freshman. I didn’t have to 
wait long, however. The Secretary of the School (like Secretaries of Defense, 
Housing, etc.) stated with a New England finishing school voice that the school 
had always been open to all students and would continue to be. In words I don’t 
remember because I didn’t go to finishing school, she said if they were not 
interested in being equally open they could take their money and leave. They 
would not be missed. 

Whenever I hear “like-minded,” I hear racism. A denied racism that all 
like-minded people understand and do not talk about. I haven’t found 
confirmation in the literature that this was a common practice but black 
friends have said they hear it the same way. It’s an alert to stop and listen.

So I like to say share common interests or purposes. 

Sharon Villines
sustainablecohousing [at]
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