These Guiding Principles of Consultation, Steps for Taking Unified Action and a Non-Political Process for Electing Community Leadership are increasingly being utilized, in various, related forms, in Indigenous Communities across the Americas and beyond.
FWII uses this Integrative Model of Thought and Guiding Principles for our work in the Americas and globally. There are many other dedicated, principle-centered movements and initiatives that are currently utilizing similar principle-centered approaches for unfolding a new, sustainable, harmonious, peaceful Global Civilization that we can all learn from!
Principles of Consultation
1. Respect each participant and appreciate each other’s diversity. This is the prime requisite for consultation.
2. Value and consider all contributions. Belittle no one. Withhold evaluation until sufficient information has been gathered.
3. Contribute and express opinions with complete freedom.
4. Carefully consider the views of others --- if a valid point of view has been offered, accept it as your own.
5. Keep to the mission at hand. Extraneous conversation may be important to team building, but it is not consultation, which is solution driven.
6. Share in the group’s unified purpose --- desire for success of the mission.
7. Expect the truth to emerge from the clash of differing opinions. Optimum solutions emerge from diversity of opinion.
8. Once stated, let go of opinions. Don’t try to ‘‘defend’’ your position, but, rather let it go. Ownership causes disharmony among the team and almost always gets in the way of finding the truth.
9. Contribute to maintaining a friendly atmosphere by speaking with courtesy, dignity, care, and moderation. This will promote unity and openness.
10. Seek consensus. But if consensus is impossible, let the majority rule. Remember, though, that decisions, once made, become the decision of every participant. After the group has decided, dissenting opinions are destructive to the success of the mission. When decisions are undertaken with total group support, wrong decisions can be more fully observed and corrected.
STEPS FOR TAKING UNIFIED ACTION
Define the problem clearly. Make sure everyone has the same understanding of what is being discussed. It may help to write the question or issue down where everyone can see it.
PROCESS FOR ELECTING COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
Step One – Prayer
Each, in their own way, asks the Creator (or however we designate a Higher Power or source of inspiration), for guidance and direction so that this Higher Power may guide everyone involved in the election process. Pray enough so everyone at the election meeting is truly connected heart and mind with their Higher Power.
Step Two – Consultation
Discuss the qualities of good leaders, and particularly those qualities needed in leadership for this time and situation. Do not discuss individual names – only the qualities a leader should have.
Step Three – Reflection, Prayer and Meditation
Reflect (think deeply) about the qualities needed in those chosen for leaders in the situation. Then think about whom best combines those qualities from among the circle and community; consider everyone. Without the least trace of prejudice and with an open and loving heart, ask the Creator to guide you to make the best choice.
Step Four – Vote
Write down the names of the people for whom you have been guided to vote. Do not discuss your choices with anyone before or after the vote. Your choice is between you and the Creator. The number of names you vote for should equal the number of positions on the council. If your ballot has less or more names it will not be counted.
Step Five – Count the Vote
A special committee of four scrutineers (vote counters) is chosen by those at the election meeting. The scrutineers count the number of votes each person receives. The people with the most votes are chosen. This is called a “plurality vote”.
For example, if the election is to choose seven council members, then the seven people with the highest number of votes are selected. The person with the most votes has the responsibility to call the first meeting of the council. Beyond that, it is not important how many votes each council member received.
If there is a tie in the voting for the last position on the council, then a vote is held to break the tie. The vote is between only the people who tied. For example, if the election is to choose seven council members and there is a tie between the sixth and seventh number of votes, then a vote is held to break the tie. If there is a tie between the second and third, or fourth and fifth number of votes, no vote is necessary since it is clear they have been selected.
Step Six – Acceptance and Support
Everyone in the community must now give their whole-hearted and unreserved support to those that are chosen. No one should speak secretly against those elected. Rather, everyone should now rally behind the council, pray for them, share their best ideas and insights with them
and cooperate to insure the success of everyone in promoting the healing and development of the people.
Step Seven – Servant Leadership
The newly chosen council members should show the utmost humility at all times and should approach their work in the attitude of loving service to the community. They should actively solicit (ask for) the views and opinions of community members, and work very hard to insure that the real leaders are the people and the council, their servants.