****Where are we today?**** (By Morpheus, Help by French-Speaking International Coordinators)
This is the name of Peter Joseph's first conference, available on the Movement's website. In the first part of this presentation, Peter Joseph attempts to underline the negative consequences of the monetary system while emphasizing the elements that allow us to free ourselves from it. In the second part, he draws our attention to the fact that man is shaped by his socio-economic environment and that human behavior is thus modifiable.
"Where are we today?" is the question we ask now about the Movement and its evolution in France. In the same way that Peter Joseph does in his lecture to show the negative consequences of the monetary system, we will attempt to emphasize the negative consequences of the social conditioning, in which our advocacy takes place, and show how the movement is a victim of social conditioning, through the disordered, dispersed, premature, vindictive or individualistic conduct of activists within the Movement. We will also draw your attention to the fact that all of us are more or less concerned by this situation which is detrimental to the movement, and that we're both "victims" and "executioners" in that regard. The goal is to try and raise the level of thought above divisions, to overcome the tendency of stigmatization, to express our feelings further without letting our emotions take over.
Secondly, we will ask ourselves the question expressed by Peter Joseph in the second part of his conference:"Where are we going?". We will strive to show you what an intelligent management of the Movement's resources must be, in order to harmonize and strengthen the actions of everyone within it, which is not easy, because the challenges are many and the environment in which we operate (the current cultural and social context) is in itself a worthy opponent. We will strive to the best of our abilities to elevate the discussion, and we hope each of you will attempt to raise their attention to the same level.
If one assesses the track record of the activity within the Movement's French coordination, it is currently not very bright. There is an unsettling passivity of many coordinators and slowing of most ongoing projects (personal and professional networking, non-violent communication files, Activigame logo, etc..). We question the reasons for the slowdown. Perhaps the activists need guidance? Maybe they are waiting for a national coordination procedure, or method of action? Or are they still unconsciously locked into a hierarchical logic, expecting to see the leaders take charge? Or perhaps do they stand as if "paralyzed" of "doing things wrong" on the one hand, and of a wide dispersion of ideas as to the method of action on the other hand? While everyone wants to act in their own way and nobody's willing to join efforts in common action, nothing gets done.
To these issues is added the severe lack of active members. Although France has the highest proportion of members, too few are volunteering to play a coordination part and/or to complete a project, most are content with being "sympathizers" with the Movement, but do not engage in a genuine activism. Is it because the movement lacks coherence, paints the picture of an ill-structured, overly informal group, leaves everyone to themselves instead of creating a sense of group? Finally, the forum saw a proliferation of subjects pertaining to "intellectual" discussions, theoretical debates, which are often all over the place; they consume time, sometimes causing divisions, oppositions, rivalries, and "draw attention" to discussions which, while not irrelevant, hinder effective communication. It is perfectly understandable that the Zeitgeist Movement arouses the need to express ideas, projects, personal thoughts, and a need to share and change. However legitimate and in a spirit of creativity, this scattering is detrimental, because it disheartens the worldwide communication phase's original synergy.
Mutatis mutandis: "changing those things which need to be changed."
As coordinators, it is normal for us to have concerns and to try and find solutions to these problems. We want to revive a group dynamic, recreate a synergy and get the engine started again. In the Citizen-Handbook - a valuable guide to activism - we find a passage that remarkably illustrates the situation we are in:
"A largely forgotten cause of low levels of citizen commitment is the internal dynamics within groups of volunteers. Lack of attention to things that can go wrong within a group means that innumerable popular initiatives wither and die without achieving anything. The problem is simply that many citizen groups discourage their most capable members. In a typical case, a member will take the lead in working with others on a certain project, will be active during a relatively short time, and then return to private life, disappearing without giving news. A little shooting star in the sky, quickly falling without a trace."
Also, proposals have emerged on the forum to create complex administrative structures. Hoping to improve their own organization, many small groups create small bureaucracies that drain the energy out of every one of its members. Much energy is then allocated to the maintenance of the organization. It is not always advantageous to create a non-profit organization, to apply for grants, raise funds, have to make annual reports, which in the long term form procedural "quicksands" in which the organization gets bogged down. We do not necessarily mean that the Movement should not create some structures, however. But it is necessary to understand that these structures should harmonize internationally. The Zeitgeist Movement shall establish an organizational structure based on cybernetic principles presented in the Venus Project, adapted to the constraints of the human factor.
But in order to render such a structure effective, there is a critical step that nobody can ignore: the transition must be done by us (inside), in order to get done around us (outside). It is both a requirement of consistency: we have to think, communicate and act in line with the values and virtues extolled by the world view that we see emerging, and it is also a practical requirement: we must learn to apply rational methods of scientific principles to our operating procedures, decision making and action, which means learning to master the emotional and irrational aspects that, given the "implants" inherent to the conditioning of the world today, continue to poison our individual and collective relations.
Convergence vs. stigmatization: "looking for points of convergence rather than divergence topics."
Notably, we have witnessed some of those attitudes on the forum that are seriously questionable, like suspicion towards interventions from recent visitors in the forum for example. Some people tend to get on their high horse, because others form criticisms or ideas that they don't like or don't match those of the movement. However, consistency and systemic analysis of the Venus Project is high, and the demonstration made of the necessity to remove the currency is rigorous and unambiguous. Rather than reacting in castigating the critic, or questioning "which side is he on", the best answer is to provide an answer to these strong arguments. The consistency of the movement will not grow due to exclusion or discouragement of any "suspicious" person, but the acceptance of difference and diversity of views, including those within the movement, a tangible commitment in highlighting the commonalities and converging aspects of the various approaches, rather than focusing on differences. When we focus on that which differs, we are creating breaches, which can lead to a conflict or a sterile opposition. But if we put forward the points of convergence, we meet different approaches on a common basis, and we participate to a form of symbiosis.
Consistency in our attitude: "be honest with the values that are advocated."
This consistency between what the Zeitgeist Movement advocates in regards to the change of paradigm and the attitude that should encourage zeitgeisters is essential, because as Peter Joseph states quoting Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world." It is not just an intellectual claim, it is primarily a factual attitude to encourage and develop. Rivalries between individuals within an group are inevitable. When this occurs, try - as much as possible - to see this as a confrontation between the old paradigm and a new paradigm. The battlefield in this struggle starts within each and everyone of us, then carries on towards "reality", in the Movement or the forum, through our exchanges. We then have the opportunity to change our old ways, renounce our conditioning of competitiveness, suspicion, hatred, fear and rejection. In a conflict, the other is paradoxically a great opportunity considering the task that is assigned to us: to overcome our self limitations, so we can put into practice the common values that everyone carries.
Outlaw a religious mentality of "them": "focus action on the system, not people."
We see our thoughts on that subject - a rational perspective, to be relevant, to the extent that they invite everyone - especially us as coordinators - to act in line with the values advocated by the Zeitgeist Movement, and because changing the world can not be accomplished without transforming ourselves: the world is an image of us, and vice versa (which means that either we agree to be shaped by the world, or we decide to shape the world - thus the reshaping of ourselves). A frequently encountered attitude in the many topics the are discussed is the blaming of elites, governments and policy makers of our monetary world. However, the key to our success lies not in exposing "bad people". Indeed, given the system of "values" that produced the monetarist paradigm in the first place, these individuals meet the expectations of the system and its values and it is therefore not "bad", on the contrary: they are very relevant given the context in which they are asked to act! In a logic of profit, the one who gets the most benefit at the lowest cost is the most competent. The important factor in our approach is to focus on criticism and arguments that allow us to understand the deadly nature, not of individuals, but of the system. As Peter Joseph said in a conference:
"We are the products of our society and no one can deny that it is the foundation of our socio-economic and environmental framework that created the deadly culture in which we bathe. The current system is based almost exclusively on the human exploitation, waste of resources and unnecessary production. That is the conclusion of our system. The few people who are the famous "they", it is another social distortion generated and strengthened by our environment. This "them" is a myth.
In Zeitgeist: The Movie, I describe "men behind the curtain" who form a group specializing in the economy and controlling the bulk of government policy. It is true that banks run the world since forever, but we must not lose sight that they are the product of a system and it is the same for humans who run them. We must fight against our negative tendencies. The syndrome of "them" is absolutely obsolete. The next time you hear someone speak of "them", I would appreciate you tell that person that she is mistaken and that this religious mentality should be proscribed. It is the eternal duality between good and evil. Two things: either we spend the rest of our lives crushing the ants coming out from under the refrigerator incomprehensibly, that is, we set traps, we legislate, or we get rid of the rotten food behind the refrigerator, because it is the source of all evil."
Ethics of the Zeitgeist Movement: "either it works or it doesn't".
If we really want to work for change and participate in the transition to the world proposed by the Zeitgeist Movement, that is to say, work to change the paradigm, the best and most effective thing we can do is to begin this transition ourselves, actually reforming (that is to say in our actions) our attitudes and transcending the old dualistic precepts, Manichaeism and the concepts of "good" against "evil". The concepts that our ethical guidelines must be made of can be stated very simply: either something is working or it isn't. If something does not work, it is necessary to determine what cause - or set of joint causes - is the source of inefficiency. Wherever possible, our interest lies in involving people in the process of repairing what doesn't work. Human problems finally arise when people refuse to collaborate.
Ownership of the subject: "learn, study, master, only then inform".
When I mention the fact that it is better to argue than stigmatize when we communicate with critics, it implies an essential point that too many of us neglect: we must examine the wealth of documents which support the theories developed by Jacque Fresco Roxanne Meadows, but also Peter Joseph. When I started to look at these documents, I was struck by the thoroughness in the construction of their analysis, both in the critical analysis of the monetary system as in the methods proposed to organize the Resource-Based Economy. Those are not the wonderful ideas of brainless and idealist dreamers! This is truly the fruit of decades of research, so as to answer all the questions asked in practice while developing the project.
If we want to provoke real thinking, we must convince ourselves of the relevance of our arguments. If we neglect this essential step of personal ownership of the issues raised by the Zeitgeist Movement (deadly monetary system paradigm, planned obsolescence, Resource-Based Economy, cybernetic systems, etc..), we make our audiences skeptical. At best, we will bring about their interest for a time, then a loophole in our argument will give them the excuse to reject all ideas under the label "pretty unrealistic dream." Ownership of the subject means internalizing it. There is no other way than to study, review and see the videos, do personal research, develop topics, criticize, even, to respond better. Knowing the topic at the fingertips should be the primary concern of all coordinators. We cannot stress this enough.
We therefore ask, should you agree, to put the few pieces of advice we gave into practice at your own pace and according to your environment, which we summarize as follows :
1. Own your subjects: study, develop, share and learn to master the various relevant themes.
2. Understand and respect the need for consistency in your attitude, in order to persuade others the Movement's coherence: do not perpetuate the religious viewpoint that seeks to change others (the world) while sparing yourself the questioning of self and of your conditioned behavior.
3. Change what needs to be changed: take every opportunity to "reprogram" your mind, remove yourself from the conditioning and self-destructive attitudes,
4. If case of conflict, look for common ground with your audience, rather than digging the ditch by focusing on your divergence points.
5. Proscribe the stigmatization of "them": we are all more or less affected by the conditioning of our environment.
French-Speaking Think-Tank International Coordinator.