The Woodrow Wilson Center fellowship proposal

Introduction

Since sharing with you my essay, “Saving Face or Saving Your Ass”, I made several attempts to write a follow-up to that piece, in July, but it just wouldn’t come together. So, after several weeks of struggle, I decided to drop it for now and to enjoy the rest of the summer. Meanwhile, I continue to grow my audience.

I added professors from the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam and while looking for a list of top universities in Russia, I came across Moscow State. After visiting the school’s website over a period of several days and navigating around the site, which is written mostly in Pусский also known as Russian, I inadvertently found myself looking at the official webpage of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, after clicking my mouse one too many times. On his site, in English, I noticed that I had the opportunity to write him a letter and so I did. I was quite surprised by my discovery and the experience felt so intimate, unfiltered, as though I could say anything and he just might be reading my thoughts at bedtime. That’s not the impression you get when you write to the White House or to the rest of Washington.

In my letter, I invited President Medvedev to join this audience, but I didn’t stop there. I also searched on the web for the office of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin where I invited him to join, as well. I also shared with the two of them my latest essay. In my delight, I announced to several of my friends, in an email, my great achievement, adding “maybe I can be a conduit for world peace”. Two of them quickly and smartly wrote back only to say that, “It was nice knowing you”. One added, “I’ll be sure to save your email” [as evidence]. One or two weeks passed when I noticed, one morning, that I had received some web traffic on my blog from Moscow, from the previous day. How about that?

In truth, this wasn’t the first time, but its timeliness definitely made me wonder. As I’ve come to see this writing endeavor evolve I have to now ask, what’s a world stage without world leaders? Turned on by the ease of this effort, I hope to add more political leaders – chancellors, kings, presidents and prime ministers – from the nations making up the G-20, the world’s twenty major economies and maybe a few island nations located near the equator. What a crazy idea coming from an almost forty year-old man who, was born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, and was once “buck-tooth and skinny” with a full head of hair the color of cotton. I wouldn’t call this a dream of mine and definitely not some goal to achieve, but instead a journey, it’s my unplanned journey that’s so full of mystery and surprises. I’ve come to embrace both.

The following is my latest essay – a project proposal – as part of my fellowship application with The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, based in Washington, DC. Limited to just five pages to write my proposal, I think you’ll find the pages three, four, six and seven to be new, revealing and provocative material. Page five, should be familiar to all, it comes from my standard solicitation email that’s sent out to new audience members. I hope this project proposal gets you thinking and talking with your family, friends and colleagues about the seriousness of America’s fundamental troubles that go well beyond the fear-based noise being pushed at you by our print, TV and Internet media. It’s what I continue to describe as an emotional and spiritual crisis. Throwing good money after bad has never worked and it never will when you’re dealing with feelings of fear, hate, neurosis, paralysis and God.

In closing, do you have any friends in high places at The Woodrow Wilson Center or would you like to think you do? I could use two good references (2). Check out the center’s board of trustees on the following link, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=about.trustees. Everyone’s participation is welcome. No one goes through life without a little help from others. Every one of our U.S. presidents in order to become “the most powerful man in the world” needed a lot of help in the form of money and influence from the rich and powerful along with the votes from millions of ordinary Americans to get elected. How many of you blindly threw your money and your political weight behind someone whose character you really didn’t know much about, but you liked their politics? Did you ever get burned by their conduct? From my writings, I hope you see me in a different category. If you will support a politician, I hope you can support me and my ongoing project.

Check out my proposal before making your decision to help. The deadline for applications and for submitting all reference letters on my behalf is October 1, 2010. The center doesn’t make their announcement for their next class of fellows until March 1, 2011 with a start date in September 2011. Click on the following link to check out the center’s reference letter form and their guidelines – www.wilsoncenter.org/sf/docs/reflttrform09.pdf. Thank you in advance.

This is my second attempt (2008) to earn a fellowship with The Woodrow Wilson Center.

Enjoy!

Ted

Project Proposal – pages 3-7

List of Publications – pages 8-11

August 25, 2010

Project Proposal

By

Ted Burnett

What started out, in 1989, at the age of 18 as simply a quest for personal survival to better understand myself and the world that I live in has become an unfolding research project, like no other, of twenty-one years. It’s built on many life experiences, some that weren’t always so pleasant, countless insights and observations. What took ten thousand attempts for Thomas Edison to finally invent a, commercially-successful electric, light bulb has taken me a journey of a thousand footsteps or more, through valleys and up mountains, and two decades of living to finally awaken, to see the truth about how life really works and to see how insane our society and this government have become. It’s to have fallen backwards in great failure into a state of enlightenment and grace. It’s led to the development and mastery of problem-solving skills, through repeated trial and error, critical for confronting and resolving life’s problems and major crises that ultimately lead to peace, serenity and to personal success.

It’s resulted in emotional and spiritual growth while slowly leading to my freedom, happiness while reclaiming my personal power by constantly looking within, by soul searching and standing up for what I believe. Weaknesses caused by doubts, fears, lies, procrastination, regrets and shame have been slowly replaced by strengths of character, courage, faith, rigorous honesty and a willingness to change while silence has given way to a thunderous roar. Immaturity has gradually led to maturity while childishness and self-centeredness has been replaced by a childlike-state and a desire to help and serve others. For the past three years, my personal development or growth has continued while I’ve put many of these experiences down on paper and shared them with the world, with my growing international audience.

As a child, a set of family, educational and religious beliefs, social values and many illusions were instilled in me defining who I was, who I was to become and what would be my place in the world. It hamstrung me for decades and it was all wrong. These beliefs and delusions have been replaced with personal experience, insights and lessons learned. It has led to clarity to be able to see the world in all its beauty and grandeur, in its actual size, while learning to rely on my own inner compass and intuition for direction. It’s resulted in a solid understanding in the relationship between how integrity, dignity and sanity plays or interacts with individual, organizational and society development and wellbeing. It’s made me a true believer in role of spirituality, truth, faith, freedom and happiness – the long forgotten words of Thomas Jefferson.

The significance of my journey and research is that it’s ultimately produced an American thought leader on the subjects mentioned above. I have an expertise in freedom, slavery, “drug” addiction, recovery and mental illness as it relates to individuals, families, organizations and societies, what’s become an unspoken American disgrace.

My work is built on the ground-breaking efforts of author, educator and lecturer John Bradshaw and his award-winning Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series Bradshaw On: The Family, Bradshaw On: Healing the Shame that Binds You, renowned educator and lecturer Fr. Joseph C. Martin, his “Chalk Talk” series on alcoholism and drug addiction, best-selling author Melody Beattie of Codependent No More, Jesuit priest, psychotherapist, internationally-acclaimed spiritual guide and public speaker Fr. Anthony de Mello, S.J. author of Awareness – The Perils and Opportunities of Reality, The Song of the Bird, founder and headmaster A.S. Neill, author of Summerhill [School], former Catholic priest Fr. Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Lois Wilson, co-founder of Al-Anon Family Groups and Ala-teen, musician, singer, songwriter, director Sting, psychologist Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, author of Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, Millard Fuller, co-founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International.

In the course of my journey, I’ve come to see that the American culture is very sick, very toxic to all who are touched by it – every American, families, organizations and the world. The Washington establishment doesn’t see this nor do they want to. Washington doesn’t want to acknowledge much of anything including its sorry role in this current crisis because they’re indeed the problem; they’re the source of so much suffering. They constantly make claims, they tell lies to the American people, to the men and women serving in the Armed Forces while rarely following through on any of its promises. It’s shameful, its grounds for mutiny. They know only how to play their broken records and games. America is tired of it. I’ve lost all hope for the players hogging the media limelight with nothing to say except point fingers. This country is bankrupt, in every conceivable way, our ship has hit an iceberg and it’s sinking fast. As residents of Washington, I suspect this fellowship committee doesn’t want to acknowledge these truths, neither did King George III.

Due to the economy crisis of 2008, the national home foreclosure and unemployment crises, I now have a growing interest in understanding the role of the natural economy (without marketing and advertising) versus an artificial one, achieving market equilibrium, natural ebb and flow, excess capacity and crashes, as well as, the natural and artificial states of individuals, organizations and societies and the application of true democratic principles throughout our society. I have written repeatedly on the issues of business, history, natural law, philosophy, political science, sociology and theology.

In terms of originality, many of these basic ideas have been expressed throughout history by Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, MLK, Greek and Roman philosophers, by mystics and philosophers of the Enlightenment era, but they don’t seem to have taken root on any large scale. There’s been a lot of talk, but that’s about it. In terms of post-modernism, these ideas continue to run counter to conventional wisdom thus making them ever so fresh to explore, to disseminate and to put into action. These ideas are alive, unlike our shallow Western culture. They continue to attract a new audience in younger generations, those young at heart.

Life is simply a series of events, from birth to death, and how we respond to each one determines whether we’ll enjoy a happy and fulfilled life or a sad and empty one, whether we’ll live in faith and courage or in fear and doubt, whether we’re constantly growing or do we become stagnant and regress. Are we embracing each opportunity as it’s presented to us or do we turn our back on them out of fear and run?

For much of my life, I haven’t been able to effectively articulate my thoughts, both, in writing and orally, first, as a struggling student and later as an underachieving adult in the workforce due to a learning disability, known as dyslexia. It’s affected me all my life, but here’s the strange twist. It also affected your center’s namesake Woodrow Wilson. He’s one of many political leaders and other notables who had dyslexia, or was thought to, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, JFK, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and inventor Thomas Edison. Did you know this about President Wilson or the rest? That’s a pretty remarkable group and I am a part of it.

In 2002, I had a mental breakthrough. It’s a long story. I began writing for the first time ever, at the age of 32, on some deeply religious and political history. Noting a drastic change in mental ability, I took an IQ test where I scored a 142. The score was a 40-point upswing from a decade earlier.

Since 2007, I’ve been writing commentaries, full-time. I am a philosopher and writer on business, political, social and spiritual matters in the United States. Primarily, I write one to two monthly commentaries and share them with a growing international audience. I offer a spiritual approach to addressing many of these important issues of state, national and global interest. Rather than simply take sides to the symptoms of America’s social problems, like, our politicians, pundits and the media so often do, I seek to point out the root cause.

I’ve been telling the world including many Americans what’s not being said in the halls of Congress, in the White House, at the State Department, in the media, at Harvard, at Yale… I believe that our elected officials in Washington and at most statehouses across the United States are living in a radioactive slough. They are so sick, in denial and spewing poison from their lips at one another. Their heated rhetoric and twisted legislative actions has gotten America very ill. These environments produce insensitivity and disrespect towards one’s self and towards one another including every constituent as a result of the ever hardening of heartened hearts.

The United States is in serious trouble do to the many faulty belief systems promulgated and embraced by most of its citizens, we have become brainwashed. We must wake up to this reality, to the truth and set a new course that leads to peace and harmony with our fellow man, nature, God and ourselves. The “celebrity” lifestyle of money, power and fame that most of this society seems infatuated with is literally killing this nation. The subjects that I write about I believe are a breath of fresh air to one’s lungs, heart and to the human spirit.

I have produced fifty thought provoking essays on matters ranging from gay rights, Middle East peace, freedom and slavery, our government’s treatment of our soldiers and veterans, global warming, abortion, capital punishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, free markets, America’s lost virtues – truth and freedom, crime and society’s role, self-governing, democracy, the current economic crisis, success, corporate consciousness, health care reform, finally recognizing the 1915 Armenian massacres and my own spiritual journey for the past twenty-one years.

My proposal to the Woodrow Wilson Center fellowship committee is to produce nine forward thinking and provocative essays (one per month) challenging the conventional wisdom of this organization’s leadership and the mindset of Washington, DC, in general. The topics will cover matters at the state, national and international level and they will be determined by me, spontaneously. In each piece, I will identify the topic, the underlining problem(s), and not merely the presenting symptoms, while offering up “where the rubber meets the road” solutions.

This project’s relevance is that it’s grounded in reality, like its writer, while our entire society and this government aren’t. This nation is quickly digging a hole so deep that it won’t be able to climb out. America may one day have to sell its “Louisiana Purchase”, as Napoleon did, to pay off her debts. Nobody is talking this crazy way and yet it just might happen. It may not occur while the generation “in charge” is alive, but it maybe something their kids or grandkids may have to face. What a sad and irresponsible legacy to leave behind. We could be forced to the sell off the Hawaiian Islands or California or worst, maybe the entire Western United States.

Might everyone have to load up their wagon and move back to the East Coast? Maybe China, using its economic strength, will simply announce that it’s foreclosing on America, tomorrow. If you think the events of 9/11 hurt and were unimaginable, then image the U.S. losing some or all of its sovereignty. Individuals, families and businesses sell assets, all the time, to pay off their debts, why is America any different? Can you imagine this? I can.

The Roman Empire at its height occupied an area larger than the United States, but today it’s no bigger than a city. Might America be reduced in size to the city limits of Washington DC or NYC? Things change. The laws of physics say that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Things naturally rise and fall. Should we wait and see what happens next or get busy solving our many political and social problems? Churchill, while in his political wilderness, warned of a rising Adolf Hitler. Did anyone in Parliament listen? Not really. Here’s my warning to you.

I am inviting your organization, the leadership including the board of trustees to sit back, read and learn something different for a change. With a reputation for producing honest, insightful commentaries with great depth, they may vary in length from a single page to ten or more. It’s not uncommon, for me, to get comments from my audience who tell me that it took them 3-times to read and fully digest one of my essays. The writing process is very intense and it generally takes me 5-7 days, from start to finish, and currently another seven to setup and blast my essay to my audience. With some money and the purchase of some web-based software, I should be able to cut the delivery time down to only two days.

Following the email blast, I usually give myself 2-3 weeks of down time for some rest and relaxation before developing the next topic. I recently read the following quote, which I have come to believe in very strongly. “Great writers write what they know.” I draw on my personal experience and in some cases like education it dates back to my early childhood. The extent of my so-called “research” generally relates to “fact checking” and not working on a new topic from scratch. I have enough curiosity to keep my mind powered like that of a nuclear submarine.

It’s my intention while in the fellowship program to continue growing my audience of professors teaching at top international universities, notables and world leaders (G-20). In July 2010, I added my first two global leaders when I made contact with the offices of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In the subsequent days, I received some traffic to my blog from Moscow. Who knows my work just may be serving as a conduit for world peace.

In America, we make countless claims about our nation being the “land of the free”, “under God” and to knowing the “truth.” At the age of thirty-nine, I have come to believe that these virtues are in extremely short supply and that there is even less of a demand for them.

The current economic recession due to widespread corruption involving the federal officials, American corporations and banks tells me that this nation is in some serious trouble, but nobody wants to face this reality much less talk about it openly and honestly. Neither President Barack Obama nor Congress nor the American people will acknowledge this rapidly growing and out of control deadly “virus.” All anyone of us seems to really want is to produce a synchronized chorus of – “give us our drugs and leave us alone.” Is this truly happening here in America? Sadly, I think so.

List of Publications

1. A Letter to the Editor: Is Corporate Social Responsibility Good for Business?”
Exec Digital Magazine, www.ExecDigital.com
–Dean Tsouvalas, Editor in Chief
August 31, 2009

With the exception of several “letters to the editor” this was my only essay, on corporate consciousness, to be published online, in 2009. This essay was also shared with my entire audience where it caught the attention of Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren. Professor Warren submitted this piece to her congressional committee, the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP). It would be one of three commentaries that I wrote that she would submit to the committee’s record, that year.

The fellowship committee should be aware that getting my work “published” in the traditional sense wasn’t my primary objective given the following constraints. First, I don’t have a degree in English, journalism or some other relevant field, as some editors might desire. As a new writer, in 2007, I had no experience or contacts in print journalism. In reality, I had no friends, in the business, to call on and to sell some of my writings to so I could earn a quick paycheck while jump starting my new career. So, I took an entirely different approach.

Instead of having to shop each and every written piece among editors at local, regional, national and international newspapers, magazines and journals with their different markets and selective palates, I chose to bypass these standard channels with their gatekeepers, editorial control, long waits and the general outlook of old media for instantly blasting my essays upon immediate completion into the inboxes of my growing international audience, each month.

I’ve created a single market of professionals and professors allowing them to easily follow me each month while slowly deepening their understanding of my work. The headache and hassle of getting fifty essays published, on my timetable, has been eliminated with virtually “fifty” clicks, in three years and eight months. This arrangement has allowed me to control the entire project, from beginning to end, in a very efficient and effective manner. I’m pleased with the results.

For almost four years, I have given away my work to an audience that otherwise would’ve never spent the first dime on buying one of my essays from this anonymous writer. We’re small in number making it very personable. They, now, know my name and the caliber of my work. Every month, I produce one to two commentaries on business, political, social or spiritual matters.

Who are they? It’s a distinguished group; almost everyone comes with their own sphere of influence. The group includes major foundations (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network, Pew Charitable Trust, Charles and Helen Schwab and the Turner Foundation), Washington policy institutes (Brookings, Cato, New American Foundation, AEI…), state and federal lawmakers, over six thousand professors teaching at over sixty colleges and universities, in ten countries, top university presidents, American notables, millionaires and even two billionaires.

My following also includes attorneys, business executives, clergy, state and federal judges, two world leaders, media and publishers. Due to the nature and depth of my writing, it probably takes new audience members reading two or three essays before they begin to catch on to my spiritual message. I have a heavy faculty presence at universities located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Among the schools are thirty-two world-class universities with over five thousand professors at Harvard College, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School (over 720), Yale, Yale Law School, Stanford, Stanford Law School, Stanford Business School, Berkeley, Princeton, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Columbia, Columbia Law School, Chicago, NYU School of Law, Emory, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Virginia, Penn, The Wharton School, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, Trinity College Dublin, École normale supérieure-Paris (ENS-Paris), École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Universiteit van Amsterdam Faculty of Law, Leiden, ETH Zurich, Freie Universität Berlin, Toronto, McGill, British Columbia, Australian National University, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. Among the fifty-six hundred professors, my retention rate exceeds 99.9% (as of 7/10).

Included are ten nationally top-ranked university professors — Emory University’s Patrick N. Allitt, PhD (Berkeley), University of Toronto’s Kenneth R. Bartlett, PhD (Toronto), University of Pennsylvania’s Thomas Childers, PhD (Harvard), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Bart D. Ehrman, PhD (Princeton), University of Virginia’s Gary W. Gallagher, PhD (U.Texas @Austin), Emory University’s Luke Timothy Johnson, PhD (Yale), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Lloyd Kramer, PhD (Cornell), University of Georgia’s Edward J. Larson, PhD (U.Wisconsin @Madison), Oxford University’s Daniel Robinson, PhD (CUNY), University of Pennsylvania’s Jonathan Steinberg, PhD (Cambridge).

Other notables receiving my essays include Boston University’s Dr. Andrew Bacevich, former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Dr. Alan Blinder of Princeton University, civil rights leader, social activist and professor at the University of Virginia – Dr. Julian Bond, New America Foundation President Steve Coll, former three-time New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Harvard University President Drew G. Faust, U.S. Presidential advisor and Harvard Professor David Gergen, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, economist Dr. Simon Johnson of MIT Sloan, Dr. Patty Kelly of George Washington University, Neoconservative political analyst William Kristol, NYT columnist Paul Krugman, American University’s Professor Peter Kuznick, Harvard Law School Dean and Professor Martha Minow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs Dean and Professor Christina Paxson, Judge Richard A. Posner, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Dr. Larry J. Sabato at the University of Virginia, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, investor Charles Schwab, R.E. “Ted” Turner III, philanthropist and Chairman of the Turner Foundation, David M. Walker President and CEO of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, Ashoka President Diana Wells…

How is this direct approach working, you ask? If Professor Warren’s actions of submitting three of my essays to her congressional committee are any indication, I think just fine. Here’s what some in my audience are saying about my work.

“Thanks for writing. You have an impressive opus…” “[I] would be happy to receive further correspondence.”
— Paul Gibbons, Founder and Director
Future Considerations, London, UK/Madison, WI, USA
June 13, 2010 (an email reply to my resume and essay – “Ashoka Foundations”)

“Hey Ted, Hope this finds you well. I want to let you know that we’ve featured your letter on the homepage of Exec Digital today. Thanks for writing in and for reading our magazine. Great blog too!”
–Dean Tsouvalas, Editor in Chief,
Exec Digital Magazine, www.ExecDigital.com
August 31, 2009 (an email reply to my essay — “A Letter to the Editor: Is Corporate Social Responsibility Good for Business?”)

“Love your blog. Always thought provoking…” “Keep up the good work.”
— Norman Fisher, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Clark-Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
January 29, 2009 (an email in response to my essays — “Business as Usual?”) and “Success!”)
Added to audience in January 2008

“…You obviously have a flair for writing as well as a keen perspective on the ever-changing Mobile and Alabama…”
— U.S. Congressman Jo Bonner, 1st Congressional District of Alabama
March 19, 2008 (an excerpt from Bonner’s hand-written note in response to my email to Mobile, AL Chamber of Commerce President Win Hallett — From the desk of U.S. Congressman Jo Bonner…)
Added to audience in November 2007

“Thanks for sending this essay, Ted. I am sharing it with the director of our Course of Study, Rev. Beth Luton.”
— Jan Love, Dean and Professor of Christianity and World Politics Emory University Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA
January 15, 2008 (an email in response to my essay –- Freedom and Slavery – A Cycle of Life)
Added to audience in January 2008

“It’s a great piece…”
— Amy Carlisle, Features Editor, Capitol Hill’s Roll Call newspaper, Washington, DC
August 31, 2007 (an email in response to my essay — Our Soldiers, Veterans and the U.S. Government: A Real Dereliction of Duty)

There’s more than one way to get your work out, today. In the digital age, newspapers and periodicals are no longer the only way. I am a different kind of philosopher and writer. I believe President Wilson, a Princeton professor and university president, would approve of my methods and just might enjoy reading my commentaries. I hope this fellowship committee meeting in his name finds some flexibility with your own criteria for fellowship applicants otherwise you’ll let a great one get away.

Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved. “The Woodrow Wilson Center fellowship proposal” by Ted Burnett.

I am available for speaking, consulting and political advising. My other essays can be viewed at my blog – http://www.toxicnation.blogspot.com/. I can be contacted via email at – tebjr1@yahoo.com. My biography can be viewed at http://www.tedburnettresume.blogspot.com.

I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: www.thesageofmobile.com