“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness” ~ Dalai Lama
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root” ~ Thoreau
Present readership excepted, of course, I perceive many intentional communities and their leaders have a blindspot on values.
What I see missing is an understanding of how values are the foundational organizing force of group process.
What do ICs and their leaders do instead? They act as if manifest issues like wealth inequality, organic food, post-oil energy, et al, are the foundational organizing force of group process.
This is demonstrably untrue. This bias is simply how activism was habituated in the 1890s, 1930s and 1960s. Issue-driven politics — -and ICs — are a leftover — not yet forward looking.
Perceiving our own history supports us conceiving this more clearly.
Prior to WWII, people were organized by blood, by blood tribes, by nationalism. There was no stronger organizing principle behind group process and how people lived together. The word “ethnicity” gets at this blood-tribe aspect of group process.
Peoples were organized ethnically; then, secondarily by religion.
After WWII, people were organized less by blood and less by religion. Where people lived and who they lived with, were more organized first economically, then racially and ethnically. People lived in communities based first on how much they earned; and then, by the color of their skin (sometimes the other way around).
This large scale group process was deliberately created after WWII, by consultancy with Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead with the US government. It was promoted by re-affirming the isolated nuclear family, with cheap single family homes, free road systems and consumerism.
Coming out the 1960s, the Cultural Creatives of the 1970s bought into the error of political activists. Cultural Creatives tried to copy the great success of the 1960s, organizing people by special interests: civil rights, anti-war and anti-nuclear. Issue-driven politics has its place — yet not as a way to organize how people live together sustainably. Issue-driven politics is not a sustainable way to organize people for the next seven generations.
Starting in 1970, in the “back to the land” movement, thousands of Cultural Creatives initiated ICs based on special interest ISSUES of good food, organic farming, alternative energy, whole-child schools, and more egalitarian politics. Not all, but the majority of these issue-driven ICs failed, were not sustainable.
About 1985, a fraction of people, all Cultural Creatives, wanted to organize and live together based on like-mindedness. But they tripped over and got stuck perceiving organizing by special interest issues was the foundation of healthy group process. It is not. I believe this is why so many intentional community efforts remain stuck or moribund today. Comments invited.
Going forward, let’s acknowledge and learn the lessons of our own history. Let’s discourage forming ICs along the lines of specialized interests. Let’s remind them to start with their values. Next, clear Vision, Mission, Product statements.
If you do organize around a specialized interest, the best you can end up with is an “enthusiast community.” The Rudolf Steiner Anthroposophy folks are one good example of this kind of community. The science fiction community is another. The Trumpites are a third example. I have yet to see any healthy world-class leaders emerge from an enthusiast community.
Why? Such groups are focused on developing an outer topic, instead of nurturing-developing children and young adults with talent and energy (a value).
I invite you to learn the lesson of values as the foundational organizing force of group process. Values is what primarily bring people together. The top two values?
- Deepening of individual heartfelt experience of life; and,
- Heartfelt encounters with other like-minded people.
In 2021, we are living in a values vacuum. Truly human values of any kind are almost the opposite of the dream of being a billionaire and consuming the next new-new thing.
Like-mindedness is based on values first. Returning to food, Food is only second to values as a force bringing people together. Why? People want to eat with people with whom they are like-minded. Make sense?
Think about it. Why would you want to eat with people with whom you share few values? Or do anything else with them? Common interests, specialized interests, are then naturally tertiary, third-most.
Q: What about all the pressing issues a compassionate worldview brings to our attention?
A: A compassionate worldview naturally nests within a healthy set of truly human values. Values first, issues second.
The topic of Values, truly human values, can go many directions. This is a reason values are so little-discussed. Prioritizing your values is not right-brain. Prioritizing your values is not left-brain. Prioritizing your values is WHOLE-brain, also gut-brain and head brain together.
To Learn More
1) Mark Robert Waldman” famous TEDx Conejo talk — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvhCLXEeSDQ
2) “How To Clarify Your Values (2): Prioritise Your Values Hierarchy” (2020) — https://nlppod.com/prioritise-values-hierarchy/
3) How the Left split between 1960s activists and Cultural Creatives and Spiritual Creatives. Unpublished paper. Avialable on request from author of this article.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work ~ Thomas Edison.