An Interview with Norlyn Dimmitt

by Gordon Nary

Gordon: What University did you attend and what was the subject of your thesis?

Norlyn: I secured a Fellowship to pursue a PhD in Economics at University of Illinois (Chicago Campus), but did not get the PhD, because I could not find a sponsor for my dissertation topic.

Basically, my dissertation was an emphatic refutation of the horribly un-compassionate economic theory that currently defines the global economy. That theory starts with the premise that we only care about ourselves. It is the antithesis of the aspirational goal of "loving our neighbor".

Adding compassion (even severely constrained compassion -- loving my neighbor 1% as much as I love myself) radically changes the equation. As opposed to a individualistic philanthropy model, collective commitments are vastly more powerful. If my extra dollar in taxes is matched 100 million times (i.e., by all taxpayers), I'm far more likely to support public policy that ends homelessness, hunger, etc.

I wrote a blog about my non-PhD here:

Gordon: You worked for several insurance companies, Please provide and overview of your work.

Norlyn: My one superpower is what I now call "freak mathematics". In the 11 years I spent working for insurance companies, I applied predictive analytics to develop innovative products, which generated billions in wealth to the billionaires that owned the companies (including my last gig at Zurich Life -- my brainchild, Zurich Direct, sold for $500 million in 2003).

Gordon: Why did you cofound Compassionate Citizens Foundation and what is your mission?

Norlyn: I had no desire to create a new nonprofit, given my vision of uniting a million "silos of compassion". But there was no organization on connecting the macro-movements around #CaringCulture, #WiserDemocracy, #CaringEconomy and #CreationCar

Gordon: What are some of the organizations to which you are interested on in linking to (and supporting) and why?

Norlyn: In the interest of simplifying the Story, we could take the middle two hashtags above.

Partnership For American Democracy touches over 400 organizations that are working on transpartisan dialogue (groundwork for #WiserDemocracy, e.g. Deliberative Democracy).

The Wellbeing in the Nation Network is focused on health and economic wellbeing (#CaringEconomy). A caring economy would be expedited by deliberative democracy. That is possibly the most compelling reason for citizens to join the deliberative democracy movement.

What follows is excerpted from my article Toward a Politics of Love

To summarize our mission in secular terms, we believe in the simple equation: #CaringCulture + #DeliberativeDemocracy = #CaringEconomy/Ecology

We need a more caring culture if we are to get to critical mass, such that we can insist that ALL voices count. Once we empower deliberative democracy (empowering the collective wisdom and compassion of ALL voices), it will expedite the co-creation of a sustainable economy that works for ALL.

We envision a collective impact initiative that is anchored by four hubs, all but one of which involve Catholic, Protestant and non-Christian organizations:

#CaringCulture (hub: Christian Churches Together)

#DeliberativeDemocracy (hub: Partnership for American Democracy)

#CaringEconomy (hub: Wellbeing in the Nation Network)

#CaringEcology (hub: National Religious Partnership for the Environment)

Gordon: What are some of the factors in political divisiveness in the United States and what are your recommendations to address them?

As one who is deeply schooled in Critical Theory, I see our polarization as intentional. The billionaires who control media put out narratives of mutual demonization (MSNBC and Fox being emblematic). They also spend billions supporting a two party system that is intrinsically anti-democratic, and that squashes third parties, so that the working class remains split into two opposing camps.

Dialogues-across-difference, on a very large scale, is a critical part of breaking free of the above stranglehold.

Gordon: Thank you for an overview of your important work.