Two reports in as many days pique my attention.
One in northern Idaho:
the other in Texas:
Glenn Beck Plans $2 Billion Libertarian City In Texas, Utopian Community Based On Ayn Rand’s “Galt’s Gulch”
These reports remind me of my own fear-based reaction to my first viewing of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” (in the early ’90s, when the oil spigots from the Soviet Union were turned off). The movie terrified me.
Right then and there I wanted to move to the country, and either join or start an “intentional community” with walls to keep out all the gun-totin’ fools that that spout libertarian ideals and the virtue of selfishness. Well, I realized, not very far down the road — I had seen the movie at an Intentional Community Conference in Athens, Ohio, and was driving back to Bloomington, sitting tense and white-knuckled, gripping the wheel, when I had an epiphany. I realized that my fear-based reaction was exactly the problem. That if I did that I too, would be just serving myself. How did I realize this?
Because just then an inner voice announced, softly, and clearly:
“No need to go somewhere else. Just change perceptions in your neighborhood.”
That was nearly ten years ago. I have been following the guidance of this inner voice ever since. It hasn’t been easy. The idea of actually getting to know and trust and share with neighbors who usually at first glance appear to have completely different views of life than I do; who, in this college town, move often; and who, like most people in this vast land are still conditioned to stay separate, aloof, cocooned inside their houses watching screens and drinking beer when they aren’t driving themselves frantic getting to and from college classes and/or (usually) wage slavery to get food on the table and pay the rent or pay down the mortgage and all those hefty credit cards . . .
But it’s necessary. This business of activating our neighborhoods is necessary. Regenerating the commons and the common life in our neighborhoods enhances the immune system, serves as the antidote to the otherwise soulless corporate takeover that separates us from one another and turns us into slaves.
Along with an ever-changing cast of characters in my neighborhood, we have created and maintain the websites Green Acres Neighborhood Association (GANA), Green Acres Neighborhood Garden (GANG), Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage (GANE), as virtual realities that aim to mirror the physical one. They, and the dynamic living situations they describe, are all extrusions, for me, from this single directive to “change perceptions in your neighborhood.”
Yes, let us demonstrate our own neighborhoods as vital and productive centers where we learn how to live, work, grow food, share, socialize, and truly be, together.
It’s definitely a meme, this theme of decentralization, re-localization, community. And that it has now infected the fear-based right-wing enough to inspire their own planned communities, is interesting. But here’s the twist.
Fear-based libertarians want walled towns.
Love-based communitarians assumes permeable membranes, like everything else in the universe. There are no closed systems in nature.
As we hunker down into our own homes and neighborhoods, we are not fear-based but love-based. Love knows no bounds. Love pours through us as we open to receive. There is no end to it. From our own safe little refuges we also envisage networks of connections to other neighborhoods, to the larger town in which we live, to towns and cities elsewhere, all across the globe and beyond, to the larger cosmic life in which all our earth-based “citadels” flow as one interconnected being.
There are no walled citadels, there are only forms, of various sizes and characters, from the microscopic atom, to the one-celled organism, to the human being, to our homes and communities, to our solar system and its place in the larger galaxy. All living forms, all forms, all of them, are more or less open, with permeable membranes, in various states of expansion or decay. To try to stop the flow between “inside” and “outside,” indeed, to even think that inside/outside “dichotomy” actually real, is to be continuously disappointed (that the walls weren’t solid enough) and exhausted (from rebuilding the wall after the latest breach) — and most diabolical of all: to assume the possibility of closed systems guarantees that we remain in a state of fear — contraction, separation, isolation, loneliness.
Erase the dichotomy, and suddenly, or gradually, what had felt so separate comes together and we are held, safe and sound in the arms of the loving universe.