We Need Each Other: Building a Gift Community

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We Need Each Other:

Building a Gift Community

By: Bill Kauth

Conscious Evolutionaries

Committed to Co-Creating the Culture

We’ve Been Longing For

You  never  change  something  by  fighting  the  existing  reality.  

 To  change  something,  build  a  new  model  that  makes    

the  existing  model  obsolete.

Buckminster Fuller

“No more prizes for forecasting the rain… only prizes for building the Ark.”

Don Beck of Spiral Dynamics

Second  Draft  Edition:  November  11,  2009  

Note:  This  book  is  a  work  in  progress,  not  yet  a  completed  project.     However,  it  is  close  enough  to  share  and  begin  putting  value  into  the  world.  

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DEDICATION:  

This  Book  is  dedicated  to  Zoe  Alowan,    

the  “protector  of  the  feminine,”      

with  whom  all  things  are  possible.  

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  

The  people  whom  I  bless  as  collaborators  include:  Jeff  Golden,    

Charles  Eisenstein,  my  “book  coach”  Craig  Comstock,    

David  Kaar,  Wendy  Fullerton  &  Jack  Leishman.  

 

Influences:    David  Korten,  Carolyn  Baker,  Dianna  Leafe  Christian,  

Richard  Heinberg,  Robert  Augustus  Masters,  Neale  Donald  Walsh,  

Carolyn  Schaffer,  Marshall  Rosenberg,  Chuck  Burr,  Carolyn  Myss,  

Jean  Houston,  Gordon  Clay,  John  Michael  Greer,  Cecile  Andrews,  

John  Peterson,  Andrew  Harvey,  Robert  Moore,  Robert  Bly,    

Ken  Wilber,  Michael  Dowd  and  Peter  Block.  

 

 

 

 

WORK  IN  PROGRESS  –  11/11/09:    This  book  is  the  result  of  the  

author’s  many  attempts  to  build  community  over  several  decades.      

It  exists  in  this  form,  at  this  time,  as  the  highest  truth  about    

what  has  worked  and  might  work  to  build  community    

at  this  volatile  junction  in  the  history  of  our  world.  

 

 

 

EVOLVING  PROCESS:    As  our  best  practices  network  continues  to  

evolve  this  book  will  evolve.    Please  share  with  us  your    

successes  and  failures  as  we  learn  and  co-­‐create  together.    

bkindman@mind.net  

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Preface: Book at a Glance

Imagine your community; carefully chosen, bonded, committed -

resonating at high frequency, playing and working together, healing,

and literally recreating the world.

“Building community… that’s easy.” I mumbled on my way to failure after failure. “It’s totally impossible.” I grudgingly admitted. As a life long social architect I’ve generated thousands of social communities (mostly men) around the world (via MKP http://mankindproject.org/ & Circle of Men). Yet the truly committed, deeply intimate community of women and men

together still eludes me like a snow leopard. I’ve glimpsed this rarified legend sometimes, as I’ve had a taste of such community.

I believe we are ready. We are in a time when we indeed need each other, women and men together. Everything is changing faster than any of us can cope with on our own. Major systems of war, economics and energy are ending. A new culture will come only from people who know and trust each other.

This book is designed to catalyze trusting resonant community, safe structures and the energy to build the new systems.

I invite you to view this book as a tool to be used. Write in it, follow your interest, choose the chapters that “call” to you. Follow what inspires you and design your community with heartfelt gusto.

[[[[[[[[[

Core-Gift-Community: A “core” is the special group of people chosen as

family to be with, share with, laugh and cry with. The “gift” is the focus on “what can I give.” The word “community” comes from the Latin cum-munere. Munere is “to give” and cum means “among each other.”

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We Need Each Other:

 

Building a Gift Community

 

 

Dedication  &  Acknowledgements  

Book  at  a  Glance  

 

Table  of  Contents  

 

Part  one:    INTRODUCTION  &  INVITATION  

Chapter  1:  Welcome  To  an  Impossible  Possibility      

Chapter  2:  Core  Gift  Community:  Are  you  ready?        

Chapter  3:  Ways  of  being  together:    A  four-­‐stage  map  

Chapter  4:  Context:  Crisis  is  Opportunity  

Chapter  5:    Background:  BK  &  MKP  History  

 

 

Part  two:  WHERE  HAS  COMMUNITY  GONE?  

Chapter  6:    Stranded  Among  Strangers:  Community  is  Gone  

Chapter  7:    Alone  in  a  Crowd:  Why  No  Community  

 

 

Part  three:    A  NEW  VISION  OF  COMMUNITY  

Chapter  8:        What  Is  Community?  

Chapter  9:        Gift  Community  

Chapter  10:    Feeling  Into  Gift  Community      

Chapter  11:    Live  Into  the  Possibility  

Chapter  12:    Bridging  &  Bonding  

Chapter  13:    Shared  Principles  

Chapter  14:    Needing  Each  Other  

Chapter  15:    Loving  Each  Other  

Chapter  16:    Protecting  Each  Other:  The  Safety  Net    

Chapter  17:    Co-­‐creating  the  New  Culture  

 

 

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Part  four:    HOW  TO  CREATE  COMMUNITY  

 

GETTING  STARTED:  

Chapter  18:  Founders  

Chapter  19:  Vision,  Purpose  &  Goals    

Chapter  20:  Core  Community  Values  

Chapter  21:  Structure  of  Community  

MEMBERSHIP:  

Chapter  22:  Finding  and  Inviting  

Chapter  23:    Do  I  have  the  Right  to  Choose?  

Chapter  24:  Selecting  Members  

Chapter  25:    Self-­‐Prep  for  Inviting  Members  

Chapter  26:  Inviting  New  Members    

Chapter  27:  Membership  Gates  

COMMITMENTS:  

Chapter  28:  Commitment  to  Each  Other  

Chapter  29:  Commitment  to  Place    

Chapter  30:  Commitment  to  Time  Together.  

Chapter  31:  Small  Groups  

Chapter  32:  Gender  Safety:  

Chapter  33:  Resolving  Conflict  

OTHER  FEATURES:    

Chapter  34:    Optimal  Community  Size  

Chapter  35:    Leisure  Together:  Playing  and  Praying  

Chapter  36:    Initiation  

Chapter  37:    Making  a  Living  

Chapter  38:    Gratitude:  Living  into  our  Gifts    

 

Part  Five:    AFTERWORD      

Bibliography  –  Books  

Websites  &  Resources  

Reciprocity:  Part  of  the  Gift  

 

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Chapter  1        Welcome  to  an  impossible  possibility      

 

“Long-ignored, the gathering crisis of ecology, energy, economy, and society pierces our complacency now with undeniable urgency, and we realize we have no choice but to accomplish the

impossible.” Charles Eisenstein

 

It  seems  lately  that  everybody  wants  community  and  almost  nobody  has   a  clue  as  to  how  to  create  it!    What’s  going  on?    Why  is  it  so  hard?    The   answer  is:  Our  current  society  is  arranged  so  that  WE  DO  NOT  NEED   EACH  OTHER  and  we  are  just  beginning  to  really  understand  the  GIFT!    

The  truth  is  that  WE  NEED  EACH  OTHER,  now  more  than  in  over  a   century.    This  book  explores  how  our  society  has  hijacked  our  ability  to   bonds  with  each  other  and  how  we  might  come  to  know  that  we  do   indeed  need  each  other  as  we  learn  to  live  more  fully  in  community.        

Most  research  indicates  that  when  we  actually  ask  people  what  they   really  want,  they  always  say;  love,  family  and  a  community  of  friends.     It’s  what  we  all  want.    Given  this  deep  hunger  for  community,  why  is  it   NOT  available  and  how  might  we  actually  open  to  the  community  we   have  been  longing  for?      

 

Social,  psychological,  political  and  economic  design  factors  are  all  in   play  here.    As  I  speak  with  fellow  elders  we  recall  a  once  vital  sense  of   community  that  has  been  lost.    And,  it  is  lost  forever  because  we  have   evolved  well  beyond  what  we  remember.    We  must  create  something   new  and  as  yet  unknown.    Some  of  us  actually  do  see  the  current  

dramatic  world  changes  as  an  opportunity  for  utterly  new  evolutionary   possibilities  of  community.    We  have  dared  to  hope  for  the  designs  that   are  just  now  beginning  to  evolve.  

 

For  thirty  years  I’ve  been  a  social  pioneer  hacking  thru  the  underbrush   of  human  relating,  leading  to  amazing  success  as  well  as  many  

disappointing  dead  ends.    This  accumulation  of  lived  experiences  has   informed  me  about  what  does  and  what  does  not  work.    A  new  vision  is   emerging.  

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The  times  in  which  we  live  feel  so  scary,  yet  so  ripe,  so  ready  to  birth   deep  community  as  never  before  seen.    As  data  technology  has  

advanced  from  a  room  sized  card  calculator  30  years  ago  to  a  hand-­‐held   chip  computer  a  thousand  times  more  powerful,  so  the  hidden  need  for   human  relationship  capacity  has  evolved  dramatically  in  that  same  time.        

Let  us  seriously  take  the  challenge  of  building  long  term,  loving  

community!    We  do  this  so  that  we  can;  feel  safer,  experience  more  joy,   build  a  future,  help  evolve  a  new  culture.  

 

But  something  is  in  the  way.    Why  does  it  seem  as  if  we  do  not  need  each   other?    What  are  our  inner  blocks  to  authentic  community?    Are  we  far   more  entranced  by  the  current  system  than  we  realize?    These  

questions  allow  us  to  imagine  a  possibility,  which  does  not  yet  exist.    If   we  dare  to  see  a  new  vision  we  can  move  toward  what  we  truly  want.    

As  we  discover  our  own  courage  to  need  each  other,  really  need  each   other,  the  awesome  power  to  truly  be  with  each  other,  men  and  women   face  to  face,  we  will  discover  how  we  can  give  our  gift  and  meet  the   needs  of  each  other.    All  our  unmet  needs  for  beauty,  intimacy,  love,   support,  safety  and  play  are  waiting  for  your  “gift”  in  community.        

As  we  accept  this  challenge  it  becomes  our  gift  to  the  world.  Most  

people  are  not  ready  to  unplug  from  the  system  until  they  see  repeated   examples  of  a  better  way  to  live.  They  need  to  see  a  workable  solution   and  feel  invited  to  walk  towards  something  better,  not  away  from   something  bad.  Those  of  us  who  are  already,  as  Gandhi  said,  “becoming   the  change  we  want  to  see,”  will  be  the  inspiration  for  those  who  follow.    

The  community  we’ve  been  longing  for  is  available  to  us  as  we  leave  the   old  story  behind  and  open  to  the  new  story.    Let’s  explore  this  new   vision  together.    Call  it  “gift  community.”    Allow  me  to  guide  you  thru   this  book.  

     

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Chapter  2        Core  Gift  Community:  Are  you  ready?

       

“We  love:  that’s  why  life  is  full  of  so  many  wonderful  gifts.”      :Rumi  

 

We  will  be  building  this  airplane  as  we  fly  it.    The  “Gift  Community”  is   part  of  the  much  larger  evolving  GIFT  culture,  which  is  just  beginning  to   show  up  as  the  next  obvious  worldview  for  humankind.      

 

I  believe  that  a  significant  part  of  humanity  has  evolved  beyond  

competition  and  me-­‐first  as  a  worldview.    For  the  first  time  in  history,   many  people  truly  feel  fulfilled,  almost  brimming  over.    We  long  to   simply  give  our  gift,  to  lend  a  hand.    We  are  after  all  social  animals.    We   are  cooperative  beings.    We  love  giving.    We  see  beauty  and  we  see  each   other.    Our  hearts  are  broken  open  and  we  love.    We  know  how  to  give   and  receive  love.    In  a  word,  we  are  ready  for  a  “gift”  community.   This  book  is  a  gift.  It  is  a  social  invention  offered  to  you  by  a  life  long   social  entrepreneur.    It’s  my  gift,  it’s  simply  what  I  do.    Take  this  gift  and   adapt  it  to  your  own  designs  and  conditions.    Please  receive  the  gift.          

If  you  felt  gratitude  at  the  thought  or  idea  of  receiving  a  gift,  this  book   may  be  for  you.  If  you  felt  some  sense  of  “reciprocity”  and  it  felt  really   good,  not  forced,  then  this  book  is  definitely  for  you.        

 

This  book  is  designed  for  the  hundreds  of  millions  of  people  already   prepared  to  use  a  basic  “how-­‐to”  manual  of  guidelines  to  co-­‐create   something  heretofore  impossible.  And  as  it’s  so  new  and  untested  we   will  be  working  together  on  just  exactly  “how-­‐to.”    It’s  like  the  

Wikipedia,  or  any  of  the  other  popular  share  ware  systems.  Working   together,  each  sharing  our  gift,  we  can  make  the  leap  into  an  experience   of  community  which  none  of  us  knew  was  possible.  

 

Two  maps  to  help  vision  “gift”  community:    The  next  section  is  a  brief   4  stage  map  showing  how  we  are  now  and  might  soon  be  in  community.     Please  give  it  a  little  study  for  you  to  know  where  you  fit  right  now.        

The  other  map  I  invite  you  to  explore  is  more  complex  with  8  layers  of   human  worldviews,  each  carefully  building  upon  each  other.    This  a   Spiral  Dynamics  map  and  the  most  easily  understood  website  I’ve  found  

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To  understand  the  Spiral  Dynamics  map  requires  some  study.    Those   who  already  know  it  may  recognize  that  this  book  is  designed  for   “yellow  moving  into  turquoise”  and  probably  saying  “Wow,  let’s  get  on   with  it,  I’ve  been  waiting  for  real  Integral  community.”      

 

From  a  Spiral  Dynamics  perspective  we  are  all  evolving  all  the  time  -­‐   like  it  or  not.    As  individuals  evolve  so  our  society  and  worldview   evolves.    Many  of  us  who  identify  as  “evolutionaries”  who  have  been   doing  this  consciously  for  many  years.      

 

We  are  interested  here  in  those  who  are  devoted  to  the  evolutionary   process.    We  can  see  the  process  of  our  parents  after  WWII  as  the   entrepreneurs  who  had  it  made  –  rich,  successful,  self-­‐sufficient,  and   stuck  in  old  rigid  systems.    All  dressed  up  and  no  place  to  go.        

Our  generation  jumped  into  full-­‐out  inclusiveness,  we  loved  everybody.     We  had  the  resources,  time  and  leisure  to  do  deep  inner  work,  both   psychological  and  spiritual.    We  found  our  inner  essence  and  we  liked  it   as  we  individualized  into  healthy,  self  realized,  transcendent  world   servers.    All  woken  up  and  ready  for  something  more.      

 

This  is  the  current  leap  for  so  many  of  us  (yellow  to  turquoise).   We  are  evolving  now  into  an  utterly  unique  capacity  to  see  all  the  other   world  views  or  stories  from  which  we  came.  We  can  see  the  beauty  of  all   that  has  gone  before  as  well  as  the  limitations.    As  we  evolve  from  the   “old  story”  into  another  we  take  the  best  of  how  it  has  been  and  

integrate  it  as  we  learn  to  live  from  the  “new  story.”      

This  book  reflects  as  best  as  possible  at  this  moment  the  new  story  of   community.    It  will  include  functional  pieces  of  the  old  stories  as  we     use  the  best  of  the  best  to  co-­‐create  a  more  beautiful  world.  

       

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Chapter  3        Ways  of  Being  Together  in  Community  

 

Overview  of  the  four  stages:    The  4  stage  relationship  map  follows   human  maturation  and  evolution.    We  begin  relationships  as  children   relating  from  a  self-­‐centered  identity,  an  attitude  of  “What  can  I  get  for   me?”    This  is  normal  developmental  stage  somewhere  from  toddler  to   adolescent,  unless  the  child  is  very  loved.    As  we  mature  in  our  ability  to   actually  “see”  the  other  as  separate  and  fall  in  love  and  feel  our  needs   and  attachment  dependency  we  usually  cling  in  what’s  called  co-­‐

dependent.    Some  of  us  continue  to  grow  emotionally  and  socially  and   become  more  autonomous,  self  sufficient,  differentiated  and  

individualized.  We  evolve  to  “equal  but  separate”  relationships  in  which   we  each  have  our  career,  bank  account,  separate  friends  even  homes   sometimes.    We  love  each  other  and  when  we  are  together  we  love  each   other  and  it’s  great.    This  is  actually  a  highly  evolved  “way  of  being.”   AND  there  is  yet  another  stage.    As  a  self-­‐sufficient  free  individual,  my   identity  may  be  strong  enough  to  consciously  allow  attachment  to   another.    In  this  commitment  I  find  an  intimacy  deep  enough  to  allow   transformational  process.    This  “container”  becomes  safe  enough  to   accelerate  our  inner  evolution  and  outer  manifestation.    Here  we  feel   fulfilled  and  need  to  serve,  to  give  back.    And  so  it  is  with  community.    

The  following  sections  show  “what  people  want”  in  each  stage,  “who   they  are”  in  the  world  socially  and  psychologically,  then  finally  “where”   in  society  people  in  each  stage  might  be  found.  Each  of  us  can  be  seen   and  see  ourselves  living  somewhere  in  this  evolving  spectrum.  This  map   allows  us  to  see  ourselves  currently  in  community  and  imagine  how  we   might  want  to  “be  together”  with  others  in  the  future.          

 

FOUR  STAGES  OF  COMMUNITY:    

#1   TOGETHER  ALONE:    “I  am  with  people.”      

What:    People  at  this  stage  want  to  be  with  other  people  but  not  too   close,  they  may  have  conversations  but  not  go  very  deep,  mostly  talking   about  things,  events  or  some  ideas  like  political  opinions.    

Who:  They  usually  find  trusting  other  people  somewhat  challenging.   Codependent  couples  or  friends  will  move  into  these  situations  

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Particularly  narcissistic  types  can  get  attention  here  without  any   commitment.  

Where:    This  sense  of  community  people  find  through  watching  sports   events,  movies  or  going  to  a  tavern  or  political  meetings.    They  are  with   others,  but  it  is  mostly  not  personal;  a  shared  experience  or  situation   where  hearts  rarely  touch.    

 

#2.   GLUED  TOGETHER:    “I  belong  to  a  community.”    

What:    The  people  here  have  a  “want  to  belong”  that  is  very  strong.    To   be  part  of  “community”  these  folks  will  give  up  their  own  beliefs  and   autonomy.    To  be  accepted  they  will  also  give  over  much  personal   power,  freedom  and  money.      

Who:    They  would  show  up  as  dependent  personality  types  and  be   vulnerable  to  cult  type  situations.  It  becomes  attractive  to  people  whom   we  might  call  “co-­‐dependent’  or  “needy.”  

Where:    This  sense  of  “community”  shows  up  in  most  main-­‐stream   religions.    It  is  especially  obvious  in  fundamentalist  religions  in  the  way   “Jesus  Saves”  means  “Once  you  are  one  of  us,  we’ll  take  care  of  you.”        

#3.   TOGETHER  SEPARATELY:    “I  am  in  a  community.”      

What:    Here  we  find  self  sufficient,  independent  people  who  want  

community,  particularly  of  others  just  like  themselves.    They  have  been   successful  in  the  outer  world  and  want  to  share  time  and  co-­‐creative   energy  with  others  so  they  look  for  established  gatherings  of  people   which  they  can  join.      

Who:    These  folks  are  detached,  high  functioning  and  individualistic.     If/when  they  find  others  of  like  mind  and  shared  interest  they  join  in   and  slowly  develop  friendships.    

Where:      This  type  of  community  will  show  up  as  main-­‐stream  religions   and  especially  in  New  Thought  churches  like  Unity,  Unitarian  or  ad  hoc   political  activities  and  theater  groups.      

 

#4.   BEING  TOGETHER:   “I  am  community.”  

What:    These  folks  have  both  healthy  autonomy  and  intimacy  skills   including  the  openness  needed  to  truly  be  present.    Being  together  in  an   interdependent  way  serves  their  wants  and  needs  for  mutual  security,   growth,  support,  sustainability  and  transformation.  

Who:  Independent,  self  aware  and  strong  enough  to  embrace  

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together.  They  want  community  that  is  accessible,  not  too  big  or  too   small  and  exists  with  a  mutual  commitment  to  stay  “together”  rather   like  a  good  marriage.  This  deep  being  together  intimacy  is  the  feeling   essence  of  “being”  community.    From  this  place  of  fulfilled  being  there  is   ease  in  giving,  receiving  and  living  the  gift.      

Where:  These  free  autonomous  beings  choose  to  “be  present”  together   and  committed  to  place-­‐based  co-­‐housing  and  ecovillages.  Beyond  such   deliberate  living  situations  this  appears  new  and  untried.    This  just   might  be  the  evolving  gift  community.  

   

SOURCE:    I  found  this  wonderful  overview  of  four  distinct  stages  of   human  intimate  relationships  developed  by  Robert  Augustus  Masters  in   his  book:  Transformation  Through  Intimacy.      I’ve  taken  the  liberty  of   reworking  the  model  as  a  map  showing  four  stages  of  community  with   Robert’s  permission  and  support.    For  information  on  his  many  other   books  and  training  events  see:  http://www.robertmasters.com/  

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Chapter  4    

Context:  Crisis  is  Opportunity  

   

It  is  a  scary  time  to  be  alive,  but  it  is  a  wonderful  time  to  be  alive.     It  is  good  to  know  that  there  is  so  much  accumulated  intelligence     and  compassion  among  us.  —  Richard  Heinberg    

 

It  appears  that  we  will  be  building  community  in  a  time  when  the  gap  between   heaven  and  earth  is  closing.    Truth  has  always  been  available  but  only  understood   by  a  few.    In  the  next  few  years  we  will  have  an  opportunity  to  move  out  of  struggle   and  into  freedom.  As  the  new  story  opens  the  old  story  is  contracting  in  a  perfect   storm  of  crises.      

 

This  is  an  ancient  Chinese  motto:  “Crisis  is  Opportunity”  

 

Pronounced  wei  jee  jyi  chuan  jee  this  ancient  Chinese  calligraphy  tells  us  “crisis  is   opportunity.”  The  time  has  come  for  us  to  wake  up  from  a  long  sleep  and  shift  the   entire  old  story  of  human  consciousness  from  limitation  to  the  new  story  of  living   the  gift.  It  is  a  very  exciting  time  in  the  evolution  of  humankind.  

 

In  this  chapter  we  will  first  explore  the  crisis  of  the  old  story  as  civilization  in   collapse,  then  we  will  look  at  the  new  story  of  opportunity  as  seen  in  extraordinary   rapid  human  evolutionary  process.      As  we  look  at  these  very  different  views  of  the   same  situation  I  invite  you  to  reach  always  for  a  higher  truth.    Each  of  us  lives  our   truth  to  the  best  of  our  ability  as  we  gather  data,  analyze  it  logically  and  intuitively   then  make  our  decisions.    People  I  admire  hold  their  truth  lightly,  recognizing  a   deeper  truth  when  it  shows  up.  

 

The  Old  Story  -­  Context  of  Crisis:    This  will  be  intellectually  and  emotionally   challenging  for  nearly  everyone.    In  the  index  I  offer  an  eleven  minute  presentation   of  on  the  “environmental  tipping  point”  and  if  you  see  it  and  can  bear  it  even  as  you   cry  in  despair,  you  will  know  what  we  have  to  do.    It’s  no  longer  an  option  and  it  is   utterly  impossible.    Only  a  miracle  or  many  thousand  or  millions  of  them  can  save   us.    We’ll  get  to  that  below  as  we  explore  the  new  story.      

 

Many  of  us  sense  that  civilization  as  we  have  known  it  is  coming  to  an  end;  we  are  in   collapse  right  now.  If  we  are  paying  attention  at  all,  we  must  wonder  what  collapse   is  all  about,  when  will  it  come,  how  will  it  affect  us  and  what  can  we  do?  Indeed,   collapse  is  slowly  happening  every  day,  as  obsolete  systems  crumble  step  by  step   over  years.    As  Carolyn  Baker  puts  it,  “I  believe  that  collapse  will  look  more  like   rolling  down  a  hill  than  falling  from  a  cliff,  but  some  bumps  in  the  roll  down  the  hill   will  be  more  painful  than  others,  and  with  each  succeeding  bump,  it  will  be  clearer  

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that  words  like  “sea  change”  and  “point  of  no  return”  are  the  only  appropriate   synonyms  for  our  experience.”  

 

The  “crash”  of  1929  took  two  years.    This  time  we  face  the  perfect  storm  of  

economic,  energy  and  environmental  collapse  all  at  the  same  time.    Collapse  simply   means  “TEOTWAWKI”  as  in  “The  End  Of  The  World  As  We  Know  It”  and  we  are  all  in   this  together.    We  will  all  be  affected  by  climate  change  as  the  ecological  systems  of   life  are  diminishing.  The  oceans  are  declining  due  to  plankton  loss  in  the  food  chain   and  over  fishing.  Our  food  systems  are  waning  as  topsoil  depletion  causes  loss  in   total  world  grain.  And  the  decline  of  cheap  energy,  on  which  our  entire  civilization  is   based,  has  begun  as  our  already  unsustainable  global  population  keeps  growing.    

Many  of  us  already  feel  TEOTWAWKI  on  a  personal  level  as  the  economic  meltdown   touches  us.    As  Carolyn  Myss  states  in  the  introduction  to  Andrew  Harvey’s  new   book  called  The  Hope:  “Our  present  cycle  of  change  has  come  with  new  challenges  so   great  that  we  are  incapable  of  calculating  all  of  them,  much  less  comprehending  the   interconnected  web  of  catastrophes  the  challenges  portend.  How  can  we  comprehend   or  even  imagine  what  tomorrow  will  bring?  And  I  do  mean  tomorrow,  as  in  "the  next   day."  Already  we  have  seen  the  monetary  system  collapse  in  a  matter  of  days,  

something  no  one  believed  possible.  But  as  we  are  learning,  nothing  is  the  same  as  it   was  even  last  year.  We  are,  all  of  us,  now  headed  into  a  very  different  world.”  

I've  come  to  understand  that  aside  from  the  obvious  social,  political,  economic,   and  environmental  challenges  facing  us,  there  are  even  more  treacherous  subtle  forces   at  play.    I  consider  them  even  more  treacherous  because  we  pay  them  no  mind,  yet  they   are  reshaping  us  like  silly  putty.    Specifically,  I  am  aware  of  how  change  is  increasingly   rapid.  We  cannot  calculate  how  fast  business,  money,  nations,  politics,  ideas,  and  laws  -­ -­  essentially  anything  and  everything  -­-­  changes.  We  can't  keep  up  anymore,  not  with   our  families,  not  with  our  friends,  and  certainly  not  with  ourselves.  And  of  all  the   things  in  life  we  fear  most,  change  it  at  the  top  of  the  list.  So  here  we  are  living  in  a   world  in  which  essentially  out  of  control  at  light  speed.  Yet  no  one  is  addressing  this   fact,  much  less  the  emotional,  psychic,  mental  or  physical  consequences  of  this  crisis.”  

 

Carolyn  goes  on  to  say  that  every  change  is  global  in  magnitude  and  all  changes  are   profound  with  significance  well  beyond  our  ability  to  grasp,  leaving  us  on  continual   over  load.    Over  the  months  I’ve  been  writing  this  book,  nearly  every  day  something   significant  shows  up  and  I  say  “Oh,  I’ve  got  to  include  that.”    Finally,  I  decided  to   stick  to  the  basics  of  core  gift  community  and  trust  you  to  keep  current  as  best  you   can.    In  the  index,  I’ve  included  some  of  my  favorite  websites,  which  in  my  judgment   tell  high  level  truth,  and  just  a  couple  important  informational  sites.  

   

My  friend  the  prolific  author  John  Michael  Greer  frames  our  current  situation  in  the   distinction  between  a  problem  and  a  predicament.    He  points  out  simply  that  a   problem  is  something  calls  for  a  solution  whereas  a  predicament  has  no  solution.    It   is  a  predicament  that  must  be  lived  out  and  he  suggests  with  earthy  compassion   “...that  predicaments  don’t  stop  being  predicaments  just  because  we  treat  them  as   problems.”  In  the  quote  below  John  Michael  advises  facing  our  predicament  

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squarely  in  all  it’s  complexity.    “So  many  of  us  want  things  all  one  way  or  the  other,  all   good  or  all  evil,  without  the  terrible  ambivalence  that  pulses  through  all  things  human   as  inescapably  as  blood.  So  many  of  us  want  to  see  today's  civilization  as  humanity's   only  hope  or  as  ecocide  incarnate,  and  long  for  a  future  that  will  be  either  the  

apotheosis  or  the  final  refutation  of  the  present.  It's  far  less  popular,  and  arguably  far   more  difficult,  to  embrace  that  ambivalence  and  accept  both  the  wonder  and  the   immense  tragedy  of  our  time.  Still,  it  seems  to  me  that  if  we  are  to  face  up  to  the   challenges  of  the  future  that's  bearing  down  on  us,  that  difficult  realization  is  an   essential  starting  point.”  

 

I  may  be  getting  obvious  that  I’m  suggesting  that  coping  individually  with  all  this   change  may  be  too  much,  however  with  supportive  community  we  can  help  each   other.    We  do  truly  need  each  other  in  this  time.    Much  of  the  trauma  mentioned   above  is  driven  by  our  belief  in  the  old  stories  of  “infinite  growth  on  a  finite  planet”   and  “humans  own  the  earth.”  Together  we  can  stand  in  TEOTWAWKI  and  realize  it   is  not  the  end  of  the  world  totally,  but  just  the  end  of  what  we  knew,  freeing  us  to   bring  forward  the  new  story.  

 

Buddhist  teacher,  Pema  Chödrön  writes,  “Openness  doesn’t  come  from  resisting  our   fears,  but  from  getting  to  know  them  well.”  

 

The  New  Story  -­  Context  of  Rapid  Evolution:    If  you  know  the  “environmental   tipping  point”  and  other  material  mentioned  above  you  understand  the  need  for   miracles.    Knowing  the  need  has  made  some  of  us  start  looking  for  them,  and  guess   what?  They  are  everywhere.  

 

Gaia  is  ailing  and  we  are  the  immune  system!    This  is  my  favorite  new  story   which  reflects  the  “magic”  as  everywhere.    We  cannot  live  separate  from  her.    We   need  her!    We  need  each  other!  We  are  her  child,  her  lover  and  her  protector.    We   intuitively  know  that  we  literally  must  devote  our  lives  to  healing  her  or  we  will  die.    

Paul  Hawken  a  visionary  environmental  activist  truly  gets  Gaia’s  pain.  His  a  newest   book  called,  Blessed  Unrest:  How  the  Largest  Movement  in  the  World  Came  into  Being   and  Why  No  One  Saw  It  Coming.    As  he  traveled  all  over  the  world  teaching,  people   kept  coming  up  to  him  after  his  presentations  and  giving  him  a  card  of  what  they   were  doing.    After  several  year  and  thousands  of  card  he  realized  there  is  something   going  on  here  on  plant  earth  that  is  quiet  and  deep  and  gets  no  press.  So  he  wrote   his  book  about  all  the  healing  he  actually  see  going  on  everywhere.  

 

In  Spring  of  2009  at  the  University of Portland  commencement  address  Paul   offered  the  paradox  with  his  encouraging  observations;  “When  asked  if  I  am  

pessimistic  or  optimistic  about  the  future,  my  answer  is  always  the  same:  If  you  look   at  the  science  about  what  is  happening  on  earth  and  aren’t  pessimistic,  you   don’t  understand  data.    But  if  you  meet  the  people  who  are  working  to  restore   this  earth  and  the  lives  of  the  poor,  and  you  aren’t  optimistic,  you  haven’t  got  a   pulse.    What  I  see  everywhere  in  the  world  are  ordinary  people  willing  to  confront  

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despair,  power,  and  incalculable  odds  in  order  to  restore  some  semblance  of  grace,   justice,  and  beauty  to  this  world.”  

He  offers  a  quote  from  the  poet  Adrienne  Rich:    “So  much  has  been  destroyed  I  have   cast  my  lot  with  those  who,  age  after  age,  perversely,  with  no  extraordinary  power,   reconstitute  the  world.”    

He  then  continues  with;  “There  could  be  no  better  description.  Humanity  is  coalescing.   It  is  reconstituting  the  world,  and  the  action  is  taking  place  in  schoolrooms,  farms,   jungles,  villages,  campuses,  companies,  refuge  camps,  deserts,  fisheries,  and  slums.  You   join  a  multitude  of  caring  people.  No  one  knows  how  many  groups  and  organizations   are  working  on  the  most  salient  issues  of  our  day:  climate  change,  poverty,  peace,   deforestation,  water,  hunger,  conservation,  human  rights,  and  more.  This  is  the  largest   movement  the  world  has  ever  seen.  Rather  than  control,  it  seeks  connection.  

Rather  than  dominance,  it  strives  to  disperse  concentrations  of  power.”  

 

The  old  story  is  pushing  us  rapidly  into  the  new  story.    John  Peterson,  writing  in   Reality  Sandwich  (Sept./09)  says  “Perhaps  what  is  most  compelling  to  me  is  that   history  strongly  suggests  that  the  time  is  right  for  an  upset  -­-­  they  always  happen   about  now  in  the  historical  cycles.  …    big  punctuations  in  the  equilibrium  of  evolution   have  produced  extraordinary,  fundamental  reorganizations  to  life  on  this  planet  on  a   regular,  accelerating  basis  from  the  beginning  of  time  as  we  know  it.  We  make   progress  as  a  species  when  we  are  forced  in  one  way  or  another  to  evolve  to  seeing   ourselves  and  the  world  in  new  ways.  Necessity  is  the  mother  of  invention,  etc.    So,  it   doesn't  look  to  me  like  we're  going  to  be  able  to  do  what  might  be  needed  to  maintain   the  present  system  .  .  .  and  it  is  likely  that  we're  at  one  of  those  extraordinary  moments   in  history  when  each  of  us  gets  the  opportunity  to  play  an  important  role  in  not  only   transitioning  to  a  new  world,  but  also  designing  it.”  

 

Human  beings  are  becoming  significantly  more  conscious  and  aware,  drawn  

towards  spirituality  and  personal  development  in  greater  numbers  than  ever  before.   As  hundreds  of  millions  come  to  know  the  new  story  something  is  being  initiated.    

Indeed,  humankind  is  going  thru  an  “initiation”  and  like  any  authentic  initiatory   process,  we  may  not  make  it.    However  if  we  look  at  the  process  of  initiation  and  we   might  get  a  better  look  at  where  we  are  going.    Ken  Wilber’s  world-­‐view  model  of   differentiation,  change  and  integration  talks  about  cycles  as  they  alternate  between   differentiation  (separation)  individual  development  and  integration  (communal)   social  development.    In  his  model  every  other  evolutionary  world-­‐view  goes  from   personal  to  collective.    The  wisdom  needed  for  survival  has  been  generated  due  to   what  he  calls  the  “second  tier”  level  awareness  of  all  the  other  worldviews.  Such   people  see  it  all,  bless  it  and  get  on  with  what  needs  to  be  done.    This  represents  the   full  quantum  field  consciousness  shift  we  need  to  survive,  we  already  have  the   knowledge  and  technology  to  do  this.      

 

This  book  is  a  call  for  “Second  Tier”  people  to  bond  together  to  do  what  we  know  we   must  do.    It  is  what  we  can’t  not  do!              

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Chapter  5    Who  this  book  is  for:  A  Personal  History  

   

When  I  read  a  book  I  always  want  to  know  “who  is  this  author,  what  is   their  background  and  who  are  their  friends?”    So  in  that  spirit  I  want   you  to  know  who  I  am  in  the  world  and  who  this  book  was  designed  for.      

BOOMERS:    My  target  audience  for  this  book  is  people  a  lot  like  me:  we   were  the  children  of  the  60s,  highly  indulged  upper  middle  class  USA   baby  boomers.    An  almost  embarrassingly  fortunate  historical  sub-­‐ group,  we  grew  up  with  everything.    Like  every  other  generation,  we   took  our  “wounds”  but  had  major  compensations,  enough  money  and   cars,  a  college  education.    We  believed  we  could  afford  to  be  idealistic   until  this  assumption  got  shattered  by  the  murders  of  our  heroes.  Some   of  us  have  been  hoping  for  so  long  that  we  are  afraid  to  hope  any  more   and  now  just  barely  know  what  to  do.    For  us  this  book  offers  a  place  to   start  and  commit  to  something  real  and  tangible  that  just  might  make  a   difference.  

 

“To  whom  much  is  given,  much  is  expected”:    We  did  not  ask  to  be   born  so  pampered.    But  it  was  our  golden  fate  and  many  of  us  used  it   well.  We  educated  ourselves,  trained  in  spiritual  disciplines,  endured   endless  psycho-­‐emotional  catharsis,  practiced  austerity,  invested  in  our   own  evolutionary  process.    Now  we  have  much  to  give  back  and  some  of   us  also  have  the  time  and  resources  to  make  a  difference.    Many  of  us   feel  a  deep  need  to  return  our  good  fortune,  to  serve  other  people  and   build  a  more  beautiful  world.    Like  an  unfinished  calling,  we  must  now   give  our  “gift.”  

My  brothers  are  ready:    I  see  and  feel  the  readiness  in  the  men  of  The   ManKind  Project  to  move  into  this  next  social  evolutionary  step.    As   “initiators  of  men”  we  do  very  well.    The  descent  is  deep,  the  ordeal   fierce  and  the  return  into  men’s  community  becomes  precious  to  most   brothers.    Now,  the  next  obvious  challenge  of  true  long  term  community   with  both  men  and  women  stands  waiting.    We  have  the  skills,  vision   and  volition.    But  how  did  we  get  here  and  how  would  I  know?    Allow   me  to  share  some  history.        

Community  is  what  I  have  longed  for  all  my  life.    I  actually  had  a   taste  of  it  as  a  kid  in  our  little  middle  class  town  in  Wisconsin.    In  college  

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fraternities,  parties  and  even  political  activism.    In  the  70s  I  took  a  job   with  a  free-­‐thinking  social  service  agency  and  began  organizing  and   training  support  groups  like  mini-­‐communities.  It  was  there,  in  my  own   beloved  men’s  support  group  that  for  the  first  time  I  found  authentic   community  beyond  what  I  had  imagined  possible.  

 

The  “Call”:    As  a  psychotherapist  in  the  80s  I  made  a  living  helping   people  while  continuing  to  organize  training  groups.    The  women’s   movement  in  those  day  embodied  the  transformations  energy  of  the   culture,  so  I  identified  as  a  feminist  therapist.  Early  in  1984  something   quietly  dramatic  happened  to  me  at  a  feminist  therapists  conference  on   “Interdependence.”  I  saw  so  many  conscious  aware  women  working   together  that  I  felt  thunderstruck  with  the  fact  that  there  was  nothing   for  men.    From  that  moment  on  my  life  calling  became  “doing  something   for  men.”  

 

Men’s  Work:    My  epiphany  led  to  the  men’s  rite-­‐of-­‐passage  training   called  the  New  Warrior  Training  Adventure  (NWTA).    With  the  poet   Robert  Bly  as  our  intellectual  mentor,  Ron  Hering,  Rich  Tosi  and  I  

focused  our  attention  and  opened  our  hearts  enough  to  allow  this  work   to  flow  through  us  into  the  world.    A  decade  later  our  not-­‐for-­‐profit   corporate  container  was  called  The  ManKind  Project  (MKP).    Now  after   25  years,  we  have  established  communities  in  8  countries  around  the   world  and  directly  served  well  over  42,000  men.      

 

The  Book:    Some  time  early  in  that  adventure  I  finished  and  published   my  book  called  A  Circle  of  Men:  The  Original  Manuel  for  Men’s  Support   Groups.    In  my  book’s  introduction  I  talk  about  my  passion  for  

community  and  my  history.    That  was  1992  and  I’m  still  struggling  to   make  something  tangible  of  this  undying  vision  of  community.  

 

Social  Inventor:    Since  I  left  my  psychotherapy  practice  behind  me  in   the  mid  80s  I  have  been  organizing  people  into  groups  which  allow   them  to  increase  their  social  connections.    They  do  this  both  through   inner  growth  and  social  skills  making  them  more  receptive  to  social   connection  and  community.    Eventually  I  came  to  see  all  this  as  my  “gift”   and  began  to  identify  my  profession  as  “social  inventor.”      

 

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There  are  thousands  of  “communities”  out  there  in  the  world  as  a  result   of  my  social  inventions.    I  feel  good  about  these  communities  as  they   have  an  atypically  high  level  of  trust.  Most  of  the  men  of  MKP  have  been   tested  in  the  fires  of  the  NWTA  and  it’s  follow  up  Integration  Groups  for   some  years.    They  have  embodied  a  fairly  sophisticated  skill-­‐set  which   includes  intimate  communications,  emotional  literacy  and  conflict  

resolution.  All  this  which  allows  a  high  level  of  trust  in  a  relatively  short   time  (months  vs.  years  -­‐or-­‐  years  vs.  decades).    I  cherish  my  work  in  the   world  as  my  joy.  

 

I  failed  at  Community.    The  list  of  attempts  that  did  not  work  is  long   and  painful.    When  I  talk  about  my  having  “failed”  my  friends  tell  me  to   stop  using  the  word  “fail”.  I  do  know  that  Thomas  Edison  failed  ten   thousand  times  before  he  got  the  light  bulb  right.  And  I  fully  understand   the  deep  learning  that  comes  from  the  willingness  to  take  the  risk  and   “fail.”    I  love  the  phrase  “failing  forward”  and  do  get  that  with  each   experiment  I’m  learning  something  even  if  it  is  what  “doesn’t  work.”    

I  live  in  Home  Town  Community:  Many  of  us  here  in  Ashland,  Oregon   have  friends  and  a  good  healthy  sense  of  community.    There  are  several   hundred  “warrior  brothers”  (MKP  men)  who  live  here.    We  like  the  flow   in  and  out  of  various  sub-­‐communities.    It  feels  free  and  easy.    We  care   for  each  other  in  a  good  way  and  have  a  very  high  sense  of  belonging  to   something  like  community.    I  envision  much  more.  

 

THIS  BOOK  is  my  latest  adventure  in  deep  learning.    I  do  not  have  a   highly  polished  template  to  share  with  you  in  10  easy  steps.    This  book   represents  the  learning  garnered  from  many  years  of  trying  and  finding   out  what  does  not  work  as  well  as  well  as  many  successful  steps.    Let  us   co-­‐create  more  successes  that  show  up  as  loving  long  term  community.    

Generational  collaboration:    One  of  my  hopes  for  this  book  involves   the  integration  and  coming  together  of  the  creative  boomer  crowd  and   the  younger  “Gen-­‐X”  or    “indigo”  demographic.    I  hope  for  an  alliance  of   those  of  us  who  have  paid  a  lot  of  dues  to  grow  emotionally,  spiritually,   socially  and  those  who  were  born  into  a  more  evolved  consciousness,     our  grown  children.    We  all  bring  our  gifts  and  if  we  share  freely  our   potential  then  we  can  exponentially  open  to  astonishing  possibilities.      

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Chapter  6            Stranded  Among  Strangers:    

Why  Community  is  Impossible  in  our  culture  

     

 

 

Community  is  gone  and  it’s  almost  too  painful  to  talk  about.    Just  what  have   we  been  robbed  of?    Was  our  social  heritage  stolen  without  our  explicit   knowledge?  Why  are  there  no  models  of  community?        

 

Where  has  “community”  gone?    It’s  the  big  question  all  of  us  seem  to   either  ask  or  feel  deep  in  our  bones.  For  so  long  I  quietly  wondered  “Is  it   me,  or  is  community  just  impossible?”    My  intention  in  this  section  is  to   invite  us  to  see  our  dilemma  of  absent  “community”  from  both  the  deeply   personal  and  socio-­‐economic  perspectives.    If  we  know  why  our  society  is   the  way  it  is,  we  may  feel  more  motivated  to  do  what-­‐it-­‐takes  to  make   wiser  decisions  as  to  how  to  build  the  community  we  long  for.  

 

Humankind  has  never  been  here  before.    We  are  looking  out  into  the   unknown.    We  have  evolved  from  150  thousand  generations  of  hunter-­‐ gatherer  tribes  to  50,000  generations  of  subsistence  farmers.    Now  in  a   dozen  generations  we  are  industrial  users  of  billions  of  barrels  of  

petroleum.    The  power  of  such  virtual  free  energy  created  a  life  so  crazy-­‐ making  different  from  anything  our  ancestor  could  ever  have  imagined.        

Most  poignantly  we  lost  our  connection  with  the  earth,  the  mother  that   nurtures  us  all.    We  lost  gratitude  and  our  simple  humble  soft  animal   essence.    Not  too  many  generations  ago  we  did  not  even  know  we  had   “selves”  separate  from  our  tribe.    Suddenly  we  do  not  need  anyone  in   particular,  as  all  those  other  people  became  interchangeable  units  serving   us  in  forgetting  our  alienation  from  “Our  Mother.”  

 

Charles  Eisenstein  in  his  book  The  Ascent  of  Humanity,  presents  the  very   best  overview  of  just  why  and  how  community  has  become  impossible  in   our  current  culture.  He  lays  it  all  out  from  pages  201-­‐207  in  Section  2   called  Alone  in  a  Crowd  of  Chapter  4  called  Money  and  Property.    I  could   not  possibly  say  it  better.  With  his  permission  I’m  including  it  as  the  next   chapter.    You  might  want  to  read  this  section  a  few  times  to  understand  the   truth  that  you  already  know  yet  could  not  put  in  words.    Understanding   this  cognitively  will  help  a  lot  as  we  move  into  exploring  what  to  do.        

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Chapter  7            Alone  in  a  Crowd        

by:

   Charles  Eisenstein  

 

“It  should  not  be  surprising  that  money  is  deeply  implicated  in  the   dissolution  of  community,  because  anonymity  and  competition  are   intrinsic  to  money  as  we  know  it.  The  anonymity  of  money  is  a  function  of   its  abstraction.  The  history  of  money  is  the  history  of  the  gradual  

abstraction  of  value  from  physical  objects.  Early  forms  of  money  possessed   intrinsic  value,  and  were  distinguished  from  other  objects  of  intrinsic  value   by  their  portability,  storability,  and  universality.  Whether  camels,  bags  of   grain,  or  jugs  of  oil,  early  media  of  exchange  had  an  inherent  value  to   nearly  every  member  of  the  society.  

 

As  society  specialized  and  trade  flourished,  more  abstract  forms  of  money   developed  that  depended  not  on  inherent  value  but  on  collective  belief  in   their  value.  Why  trade  actual  bags  of  grain  when  you  can  just  trade  

representations  of  those  bags?  Paper  money,  and  to  a  great  extent   coinage,  depends  for  its  value  on  collective  perceptions  rather  than   practical  utility.  You  can't  eat  gold.  

 

The  next  stage  of  the  abstraction  of  value  came  with  the  divorce  of  money   from  even  the  representation  of  physical  objects.  With  the  

abandonment  of  the  gold  standard  in  the  20th  century,  a  dollar  came  to  be   worth.  .  .  a  dollar.  Currency  has  become  a  completely  abstract  

representation  of  value;  indeed,  the  abstraction  is  so  complete  that  it  no   longer  really  represents  anything  at  all.  The  parallel  with  language  is  

uncanny.  Just  as  words  have  lost  their  mooring  in  the  reality  of  our  senses,   "forcing  us  into  increasingly  exaggerated  elocutions  to  communicate  at  all,"   so  also  has  money  become  not  just  a  representation  of  value  but  value   itself.  The  last  thirty  years  have  witnessed  the  final  step  of  this  

abstraction:  the  gradual  elimination  of  physical  currency  altogether  in   favor  of  numbers  in  a  computer.  

 

Just  as  words  increasingly  mean  nothing  at  all,  money  is  also  nearing  a   crisis  in  which,  so  disconnected  from  the  utilitarian  objects  it  once  

represented,  it  becomes  nothing  more  than  hunks  of  metal,  pieces  of  paper,   and  bits  in  a  computer.  Our  efforts  to  stave  off  this  eventuality  (of  

hyperinflation  and  currency  collapse)  mirror  the  logic  of  the  technological   fix,  postponing  the  day  of  reckoning.  

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Money  is  abstract  not  only  with  regard  to  objects  of  utility,  but  also  with   regard  to  people.  Anybody's  money  is  the  same.  While  camels  or  jugs  of   oil  or  any  tangible  object  has  an  individuality  connected  with  its  origin,   money  is  completely  generic  and  thus  completely  anonymous.  Nothing  in   the  digits  of  your  savings  account  statement  tells  you  who  that  money   came  from.  One  person's  money  is  as  good  as  another's.  It  is  no  accident   that  our  society,  based  increasingly  on  money,  is  also  increasingly  a  

generic  and  anonymous  society.  Money  is  how  the  society  of  the  Machine   enacts  the  standardization  and  depersonalization  implicit  in  its  mass  scale   and  division  of  labor.  But  more  than  just  a  means  to  implement  

depersonalization,  money  also  pushes  it  further.    

To  see  how,  let  us  return  to  the  paradise  of  financial  independence,  

ignoring  for  now  that  the  security  it  promises  is  but  a  temporary  illusion,   and  instead  look  at  the  results  when  it  is  actually  achieved.  Often,  it  is  when   the  semblance  of  independence  is  achieved  that  its  emptiness  becomes   most  apparent.  Simply  observe  that  the  financially  independent  

individual,  among  other  equally  independent  individuals,  has  no  basis  for   community  except  for  the  effort  to  "be  nice"  and  "make  friends".  

Underneath  even  the  most  well-­‐motivated  social  gathering  is  the  

knowledge:  We  don't  really  need  each  other.  Contemporary  parties,  for   example,  are  almost  always  based  on  consumption—of  food,  drink,  drugs,   sports,  or  other  forms  of  entertainment.  We  recognize  them  as  frivolous.   This  sort  of  fun  really  doesn't  matter,  and  neither  do  the  friendships   based  on  fun.  Does  anybody  ever  become  close  by  partying  together?    

Actually,  I  don't  think  that  joint  consumption  is  even  fun.  It  only  passes   the  time  painlessly  by  covering  up  a  lack,  and  leaves  us  feeling  all  the   more  empty.  The  significance  of  the  superficiality  of  our  social  leisure   becomes  apparent  when  we  contrast  that  sort  of  "fun"  with  a  very   different  activity,  play.  Unlike  joint  consumption,  play  is  by  nature   creative.  Joint  creativity  fosters  relationships  that  are  anything  but   superficial.  But  when  our  fun,  our  entertainment,  is  itself  the  object  of   purchase,  and  is  created  by  distant  and  anonymous  specialists  for  our   consumption  (movies,  sports  contests,  music),  then  we  become  consumers   and  not  producers  of  fun.  We  are  no  longer  players.  

 

Play  is  the  production  of  fun;  entertainment  is  the  consumption  of  fun.   When  the  neighbors  watch  the  Superbowl  together  they  are  consumers;  

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when  they  organize  a  game  of  touch  football  (alas,  the  parks  are  empty   these  days)  they  are  producers.  When  they  watch  music  videos  together   they  consume;  when  they  play  in  a  band  they  produce.  Only  through  the   latter  activity  is  there  the  possibility  of  getting  to  know  each  other's   strengths  and  limitations,  character  and  inner  resources.  In  contrast,  the   typical  cocktail  party,  dinner  party,  or  Superbowl  party  affords  little   opportunity  to  share  much  of  oneself,  because  there  is  nothing  to  do.   (And  have  you  noticed  how  any  attempt  to  share  oneself  in  such  settings   seems  contrived,  uncomfortable,  awkward,  inappropriate,  or  

embarrassing?)  Besides,  real  intimacy  comes  not  from  telling  about   yourself—your  childhood,  your  relationships,  your  health  problems,  etc.— but  from  joint  creativity,  which  brings  out  your  true  qualities,  invites   you  to  show  that  aspect  of  yourself  needed  for  the  task  at  hand.  Later,   when  intimacy  has  developed,  telling  about  oneself  may  come  naturally— or  it  may  not  even  be  necessary.  

 

Have  you  ever  wondered  why  your  childhood  friendships  were  closer,   more  intimate,  more  bonded  than  those  of  adulthood?  At  least  that's  how  I   remember  mine.  It  wasn't  because  we  had  heart-­to-­heart  

conversations  about  our  feelings.  With  our  childhood  friends  we  felt  a   closeness  that  probably  wasn't  communicated  in  words.  We  did  things   together  and  created  things  together.  From  an  adult's  perspective  our   creativity  was  nothing  but  games:  our  play  forts  and  cardboard  box  houses   and  pretend  tea  parties  and  imaginary  sports  teams  and  teddy  bear  

families  were  not  real.  As  children,  though,  these  activities  were  very  real   to  us  indeed;  we  were  absolutely  in  earnest  and  invested  no  less  a  degree   of  emotion  in  our  make-­‐believe  than  adults  do  in  theirs.  

 

Yes,  the  adult  world  is  make-­‐believe  too.  Roles  and  costumes,  games  and   pretenses  contribute  to  a  vast  story.  When  we  become  aware  of  it,  we   sense  the  artificiality  of  it  all  and  feel,  perhaps,  like  a  child  playing  grown-­‐ up.  The  entire  edifice  of  culture  and  technology  is  built  on  stories,  

composed  of  symbols,  about  how  the  world  is.  Usually  we  don't  notice;  we   think  it  is  all  "for  real".  Our  stories  are  mostly  unconscious.  But  the  new   edifice  that  will  rise  from  the  ruins  of  the  old  will  be  built  on  very  different   stories  of  self  and  world,  and  these  stories  will  be  consciously  told.  We  will   go  back  to  play.  

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