Re: Moving back from concensus?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2020 17:11:55 -0800 (PST)
> On Dec 13, 2020, at 4:40 PM, R Philip Dowds <rphilipdowds [at]> wrote:

> I’ve actually never found the expression can or can’t “live with it” to be 
> very helpful.  If I’m in plenary among my friends and neighbors, and I 
> object, and my objection means I “can’t live with it” … what am I saying?  

What is meant is that you can function with the decision. It won’t make your 
ability to participate in the community awkward or inhibit you from 
participating fully. 

I have problems with it for other reasons — it feels like low bar for 
decisions. That decisions are fine as long as no one is moving out the next 
day. I want higher standards. But this is another place where decisions exist 
in a larger organizing context. Decisions are regularly reviewed. The review 
dates are part of the decision. I can live with it means I’ll be fine and will 
wait for the review date to see how it is working.

The review dates are important. As I said in the last message, decisions are 
fluid and meant to be adjusted to make them better as they are applied and 
evaluated. I find that my community resists this — we decided frequently cuts 
off new discussion.

>     “I’m sorry, but I really think you’re making a mistake, and here’s why.  
> I think we can do better, and here’s how.  I cannot, in good conscience, 
> endorse the majority preference in a matter of this significance.  And I 
> won’t.”
> And after all that … I was still a member in good standing of my community, 
> and still an active contributor.  And I certainly understood that the 
> decision applied to me, and I expected fo comply with both letter and spirit. 
>  And for me personally, I was much more comfortable in adhering to my own 
> integrity, instead of pretending to “like” something I really didn’t “like”.  
> And after the vote, life goes on.  Consensus is great, but voting can be 
> liberating.

I agree. We have stand-asides which fulfill that function as well. In 
sociocracy what would be a stand aside is treated like a “soft consent”. I 
consent because I don’t know if I agree with this or not but it’s fine to go 

The second paragraph is good. That’s what it means that you can live with it. 
It allows you to still function harmoniously in the community. Our definition 
of consent includes "will comply” because a member once said he consented 
because he wasn’t going to do it anyway. I don’t think we analyze the reasons 
for consent enough (if at all). People can be consenting for negative reasons. 
If you consented without explaining that this decision could cost the community 
a lot of money in legal fees down the road.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
Co-author of Sociocracy: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy. A Handbook for 
Understanding and Implementing Sociocratic Principles and Practices, Updated 
and Expalnded Edition

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