Creating a New World, a How To from the Aftermath

Forming a new world, a new culture, is not an easy task. If it were it would already be done. It takes time, conviction, imagination, and people willing to put themselves on the line in order to achieve it. But it is not without its benefits, both long term and immediate.

The long term benefits are obvious. Social support structures. Greater security. And, in the case of a crash, a higher probability of survival. These tend to be greatly valued, but the initial cost in time, effort, and creativity tends to lead many people to conclude that it is not worth the cost.

The short term benefits are often over-looked, a mistake in my opinion. These benefits include social support structures and greater security. They also include the more ephemeral benefits of feeling successful, productive, and being with friends. There is also a substantial benefit regarding mental health. That social support structures contribute to both the healing and maintenance of mental illnesses is well known in psychological circles.

This still leaves us with the all-important how. This is where imagination comes into play. The ultimate goals of people who want a new way of life tend to be similar: a culture and society that promotes human interaction and creativity. But how to go about doing this seems to allude us by and large. Most of the experiments tried to date have failed. When we look at these failures we tend to see a common strain: they were based on the idea that people would become better. People will not magically become any better, the situation they live in will become better, but that is not the same thing.

People can always be counted on to say thoughtless things, to misunderstand, etc. These things just are, and they need to be figured into the equation. Ways to work with these tendencies are numerous, but simple. Below are several.

1) Write everything down. Gentlemen's agreements are wonderful, but how can you be sure that, one, everyone is agreeing to the same thing, and two, that everyone will remember the agreement in the same way? Write down the agreement and both problems are nipped in the bud.

2) Communicate, talk about feelings, confront problems. Avoiding these things causes a festering of discomfort and animosity among the group. Conflicts cannot be avoided, and trying to avoid them only ensures that they cannot be solved without a full-out fight.

3) Do not ignore monetary and other physical concerns. It is something of a habit among people searching for a better world to ignore the logistics of living in this one: don't. People get funny about money, even those who otherwise despise it. Assume nothing if it deals with money. Write it down and make sure there are at least three copies: one for each party and another with a disinterested third-party.

4) Mix your business and personal lives. A self-contained group of people with their own culture has a very specific name: tribe. A tribe has two aspects, if either is missing then it is not a tribe. A tribe is a community and a tribe obtains and provides for it's members. If it is just a community, then it is commune, a social club, or a cult. If it is just a way of providing for it's members than it is a business. A tribe is both. Which offers many advantages, including a support network that extends into your working life. It also helps to force people to workout their problems in the community. If two people in a tribe have a problem with each other they have to work it out, they need each other in order to continue making a living. If the making a living aspects are not yet capable of fully providing for everyone's needs then any extra job that people have on the side needs to be considered as such. Not their real job, just something extra to make ends meet. Otherwise their priorities will be skewed and the tribe will suffer.

5) Remember you are creating a community, not a business. Anything that hinders community needs to be avoided. This is the key to whole paradigm.

6) Make sure you always time to hangout in a group. Schedule a dinner once a week, or have a regularly scheduled outing. This should be beyond anything related to decision-making or work. If someone cannot make it one week, for whatever reason, then set their place setting anyway. More so than someone saying "too bad Bob couldn't make it," having a Bob-shaped hole at the table strikes it home that Bob is missing.

7) Just do it. Do it gradually, jumping in too fast can be shocking. But do it. All theory and no practice makes for a dull, and typically short, life.

These are just my suggestions for handling some of the problems that tend to arise. Feel free to take, adapt, discard, ignore, or criticize any and all of them. Add your own if you want. Share your experiences and thoughts. This is a very important part of many of the more positive visions we'll be sharing here, so please contribute. Further reading on this topic is available. Creating A Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian and Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn are some of the biggest ones.

-Benjamin Shender

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