Option “Sane”

Discussion Principles


Erich Fromm was a Visionary.  His vision was that we would live in freedom and practice love in a humane and just society of our own creation, a sane society.  Free of alienation from self and others, we would live an existence of “being” rather than “having”, in continuous human and social betterment.

Fromm lived an engaged life.  He wrote to reach a broad audience, to move his readers to see the ideal future we are all able to create.  He was anti-hierarchal, democratic, and valued human equality.  He believed reason and the study of reality cleared the path for human development.

Visioning is the action taken to achieve a vision.  The discussion principles are suggestions for how we might practice his values in advancing his vision.


  1. We all can be mindful of the purpose of the discussion, and the time limits for the discussion.  This is not just the responsibility of the facilitator.  
  2. Egg timer. 3 minutes per speaker (or whatever time we set to cook the egg). The facilitator can say ‘egg timer’ and everyone will understand. The egg timer does not apply when presenting or reporting to the group, or when a vote is being organized.
  3. To allow everyone to speak, it is best to not speak a second time until everyone has had a chance to speak a first time (or declines to speak). No one speaks a third time until…etc.
  4. Presume the good intent of others at all times. Seeking to understand is more helpful than striving to be understood. Caricatures and ad hominem arguments undermine respectful listening. Help the group understanding.
  5. Strive to connect thoughts to others who have spoken previously.  This creates a civic feeling of our collective work.  Simple, active language is best.  George Orwell offers helpful  guidance in “Politics and the English Language”: https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/politics-and-the-english-language/
  6. In Zoom or email groups decisions can lead to confusion as discussants may not share the same concepts or perceptions of an issue. One way to avoid this: the facilitator asks the group, “Is this what we want to decide?” The issue is reworded to what the group wants. The facilitator asks each person their vote; it is then tabulated. It later is sent out to everyone, so the group decision is clear to everyone. In some circumstances, the issue may be too complex to be handled in this way, and the Survey Monkey app can be used.