Leggo My Ego

In the last year of being a coordinator I've met many kinds of people.  As it stands presently, the coordinators for all the cities that have stepped up to participate in The Zeitgeist Movement make this experience a rewarding one.

That's not to say I haven't had probelms.  I've been called names, accused of stealing the movement from people (yes, really), been told to go fuck myself.  I've even had nasty PM's from people that support the movement that were of a derogatory nature towards me.  I suppose one way to look at it is if you're a coordinator and you haven't run into any of these situations, it's only a matter of time before you do.

Ego will probably be the hardest part of coordinating.  Before I go further, let's define that word. (defering to Wikipedia for general use)

The Ego comprises that organised part of the personality structure that includes defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive functions. Conscious awareness resides in the ego, although not all of the operations of the ego are conscious. The ego separates what is real. It helps us to organise our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us.  The Ego acts according to the Reality principal.

The reality principle is a psychoanalytic concept, originated by Sigmund Freud, that compels one to defer instant gratification when necessary because of the obstacles of reality. It is the governing principle of the ego and stands in opposition to the pleasure principle of the id.

That should suffice for now. 

People project their impressions and agendas (as do I) onto other people and organizations.  This could also be seen as the Ego acting up.  The best I've come up with so far is just to mindful that I do this myself and step outside my projecting as best as I can to minimize the unfortunate situation of just plain dismissing someone, or quickly making them "wrong", for their position (usually in regards to their objecting to TZM in some way).

As I've volunteered to take on this role of a coordinator it's becoming evident that the basics tenet of my role are clear:

1. create a place for people to go that support these ideas (tenets of TZM)

I heard Peter say something in a radio address earlier this year about creating a place for people to go (ie. the global website).  That made sense to me and was the primary movtivator to create zmca.org in California.

2. Any communication platform that we (movement coordinators, members, etc) acknowledge as "official" is THE place a person can go to participate in the most "noise free" environment concerning The Zeitgeist Movement.

 

And as a volunteer that is committed to the direction of transitioning to a global RBE, I take these two points seriously.  And since phase 1 is a global, mass awareness phase, the primary role of chapters at the moment is just that: awareness of this alternative to the current social system (aka monetary-ism)

I've stood in admiration of the communication skills of some coordinators that tolerate hours, even days, of criticism (of both the movement and themselves) to get a person to understand this direction and step outside their "box" of worldview.  Personally I have no such constitution for such a duration of criticism.  There is a member known as Roan that wrote a great article about "converting & convincing"  which I've also taken to heart. It allows me to apply myself to the projects and communication I want to be doing, vs stuck in debate with people.  To that I note the materials of the movement are all over the internet for free.  The information about The Venus Project is provided for free.  Peter makes feature-length documentaries as tools for understanding these ideas, all for free. I don't know of any movement that is as open, transparent, solution-based, and committed to communication as TZM.

The best I've been able to do with people that come to me with criticism, demands, attacks or other things of this nature, is to not take it personally.  Easy to say, sometimes hard to do.  I think a lot of people place their ego problems on coordinators and the movement in general.  Some looking for agreement, or attention, or an audience for their own agenda, or a title.  Personally I take on a concept known as "integrity", defined as: honoring one's word the same as one's self.  This could also be said as "doing what you said you'd do" and if you don't, make a new committment and take it from there.

With that in mind, it's the way I remind myself about the neccesity of the above points 1 & 2 as it applies to coordinating.  And makes dealing with egos a bit easier.

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Mission Statement

What is the Movement's "Mission Statement"?

That's been asked a few times to me over the past couple of months.  Depending on who asks, I have a different list of thoughts.  If it's someone brand new to the ideas I have 3 or 4 versions of what the movement is based on how much time I've got to answer.  Everything from a one-sentence answer that goes something like:  "The Movement advocates a possible alternative to social affairs to we called a Resource Based Economy", to a 5-minute breakdown if I my audience indulges me so.

If it's someone who says they're in the movement already, I have a different list of thoughts.

My initial action was usually to refer the person to the TZM Knowledgebase article "What is The Zeitgeist Movement?"

Then more recently I became curious as to what was prompting this question?  Perhaps the person was having trouble explaining the movement to someone else?  Not sure...  Then I started to see a few possibilities behind this question of mission statement.

After thinking it over for a bit I came upon something that makes sense to me: a projection.  Some might say most things we think of are, but to define what I'm saying I'll first ask "What are mission statements used for?"   They're statements used by organizations and corporations and other groups & institutions to define their purpose.  Most of the examples I thought of in a few moments (Microsoft, Greenpeace, Red Cross, BP, and local charities, etc) all provide a product, service or both.

So then I had to rethink how I was responding:  TZM is not a service.  I know that "social therapy", if you will, needs to take place if we're ever to have a hope of seeing a resource based economy come into existence.  But we're not a therapy service (even though some people I meet would benefit greatly from some). There are educational materials that are free, nothing is sold. So we're not selling "products" in the sense of a marketplace. There's no monetary profit, differential advantage, trade, barter or power structure.  Hmm..  What are we?

As of this writing I think in this way, this movement is a result (along with many other) from the bio-social pressures created by the outcomes in our current social system (i.e. hunger, poverty, war, class, crime, etc).  It's a reaction to the problems becoming great enough that people are looking for a way to solve them since our social institutions are failing miserably to do so.  It's an early stage right now.  I'd say most people are hopeful that we'll keep on just fine for the decades to come even if things go to shit outside the US.  But the decay of society can only go on for so long, as in the problems can only increase so much, before the conditions impose themselves onto each of use personally and we have no choice but adapt, change, or (in this case) hopefully upgrade our social values inorder to transition to something better.

I don't know if that counts an answer to the original question, but then the original question, to me, is usually sourced from projecting the current corporate structure onto the movement.  And it clearly doesn't fit. There's no boss, no president, no employees, no vacations, no salary.  You might gain some ‘health benefit’ from participating in TZM since it'll certainly upgrade one's worldview to something that's of positive thought and action.  Solution-based thinking brings out the better parts of personality vs. the dark cynicism of ongoing complaint.

Maybe at this point the next time a member asks me that question I’ll answer with question of my own “What do you think is?” and take it from there.

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books books reading reading

Wow, everywhere I wander in the movement adds a book to my bookshelf!  I can see that at some point I'll be iPad-ing it on some level since there will never be enough room on my shelf. A look back at the road of education I've travelled since I saw the first Zeitgeist film in 2006, it's far more than anything I've ever accomplished in school or in 4-years of college.

What's waiting for me to finish today?

  • Tyranny of Words
  • Trouble with Testosterone
  • The Spirit Level
  • A Testament of Hope
  • The Grand Illusion
  • Gerald Massey's works - vol I & II (which will take me the rest of my life to visit thoroughly)

My fictional fancies generally get met by my dvd player!

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Why The Zeitgeist Movement is not a "9-11" Movement

Howard Zinn was asked to speak to a Jewish group on the topic of the Holocaust while he was teaching at Boston University in the 1980’s. The anticipated topic from the faculty was WWII and the genocide of 6 million Jews. Instead he ended up speaking about the US-supported death squads in Central America that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peasants in Guatemala and El Salvador, victims of American Policy.

There was an article published a week later that was a strong objection to extending the moral issue of Jews in Europe during the war to people in other parts of the world in our current time. The article claimed the Holocaust was a unique event and the author was outraged that since Zinn was invited to speak about the Holocaust, instead he spoke of other matters.

Zinn’s point is that the memory of the Holocaust should not be encircled by barbed wire. It should not be morally ghettoized, that is: kept isolated and separate from other atrocities in history. Why? Because to remember what happened to 6 millions Jews serves no important purpose unless it arouses the indignation, anger and action against all atrocities, anywhere in the world.

At the core of the memory of the Holocaust is a horror that should not be forgotten. But around that core, whose integrity needs no enhancement, there has grown up an industry of memorialists who labor to keep the memory alive for purposes of their own. Such as:
Preserving one’s identity, Zionist thought uses the memory to justify Israel’s war on Palestine. And politician can be seen in the course of history to use the memory for voter influence. When understood in this context, the awful event is truly ghettoized.

Now, replace the statements I’ve just written with 9/11 in place of the word Holocaust.

To build a wall of uniqueness around 9/11 (or the Holocaust, or Iraq, or Vietnam) is to abandon the idea that humankind is all one, that all people are deserving of equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If we are to take seriously any admonition that 9/11 was “Unacceptable” we must ask ourselves (as we observe other atrocities in the world around us) if we are using the argument as a beginning or and end to our moral concern.

This is why TZM in not a 9/11 movement. What happened to the citizens of the US from 9/11 (or the Jews of the Holocaust of WWII) is unique in its details, but it shares universal characteristics with many other events in human history. (ie. The Atlantic Slave Trade, the genocide of the American Indians, and the injuries and deaths of millions of working people who have been victimized by capitalist ethos, that put profit before human life.

The outcomes themselves, if taken as ALL unacceptable outcomes, then a question must be brought forth as to how can society create better outcomes? And that’s where the conversation from The Zeitgeist Movement, The Venus Project and a Resource Based-Economy comes in. We are not here to fight with the establishment, or to be anti-anything, but to encourage a bio-social pressure via awareness and education about the root-causes of the outcomes themselves.

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Put Me In A Box

I attended a screening of documentary attemtpting to describe money, talk about alternative currencies, and then suggest that a time-bank is a community building project that the viewers should become part of.

Regardless of my views of this idea, the outcomes of my participation have been enlightening.  After the main event I engaged in a 2-part conversation with one of the members about the merits of such a bank (or lack thereof) to a broader solution concerning a monetary system.  That turned into a long discussion about a great many things, including TZM.  And for my part was very enjoyable since the conversation was one of ease and sharing by both parties.  There seemed interest on their part about concepts expressed in the Zeitgeist Movement (especially in organization) since they admitted the failing of a local transition idea they helped start and had an emotional attachment to keeping it going.  A desire was further expressed to take another look at Addendum and consider what Mr. Fresco had to say.

On part two of the discussion something happened that took me by surprise.  Many more ideas of world-view were being expressed by the other party, and during those moments I asked for examples and clarification so I could best understand the intent of the ideas.  (I’m being cryptic on purpose here for anonymity sake)  Then an air of defensiveness started to take place and it was stated to me that my world-view was very black & white.  And that science is a black & white world-view since it doesn’t allow for the “unknowable”.  Some mention of ancient traditions and healing methods were proposed as such beliefs that scientific method cannot allow for. (Personal note: in retrospect is that really a bad thing?)

When the adjunct “I hope this doesn’t seem offensive” was tact on, I took the opportunity to say that it was received as such since I don’t see a world-view where “everyone’s well-being is considered, and a regard for the environment and life’s processes is a priority,” as black & white.  The other party admitted that they felt challenged by the ideas I proposed and didn’t like the fact that they didn’t have the language to answer my earlier questions.  I imagine that put them in the position of feeling inferior.

Ultimately the exchange ended politely but I couldn’t help but notice the dance of identities and the battle of ego (including my own) that took place.  Afterwards, upon reflection, I saw that when challenged, the other party needed to find a way to compartmentalize what I was saying (and by extension, me) so I could be boxed & shelved without further discomfort.

In recognizing that I’ll call it a discussion complete without any further burden on my self esteem.

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