In this video, I would like to focus on the most important aspect of the Open-Source paradigm: the human element. I am dedicating this to everyone feeling weighed down by debilitating frustration; to anybody feeling buried by the demands and pressures of closed-era modernity. If you are suffering emotional fallout from lack of time, lack of money, lack of access, and have been deceived into thinking you lack the ability to achieve your aspirations, this video is for you.
You’re certainly not alone. As a self-identified debt slave, I can relate on a variety of levels. Like many other indentured servants of the 21st century, I have experienced my fair share of intense anxiety and restless nights. Inner turmoil once defined my entire existence. For 23 of my 27 years on earth I led a compartmentalized, emotionally numb, consumption-driven life. I was plagued with guilt over finishing college in debt and unable to find anything to be passionate about; incapable of identifying a pursuit worth devoting my life to. I saw everyone else around me going through the motions, getting stable jobs, leading “adult lives”; while I on the other hand felt perpetually under-developed, helpless, and insecure in comparison.
For lack of a better analogy, my identity began breaking down. While difficult to endure at the time, I recognize its importance in hindsight. Old habits die hard. For stubborn creatures like us, substantive and necessary changes are usually not possible without a precipitating crisis. Fortunately, through a fair amount of study and introspective self-analysis, I managed to ditch most of the pointless and self-defeating guilt I had been harboring. Once I really began digging, I came to find out that I had been misled about pretty much everything. What the system taught me to think, feel, and perceive was purposefully designed to keep me in a state of fear and arrested development. Despite all the vacuous lip service corporatized culture pays to rugged individualism, industrial-era society doesn’t really want a self-actualized and empowered populace. It is much too difficult to manipulate and squeeze profits out of a citizenry who are self-sufficient, community-oriented, and holistically educated. To quote Henry Ford, “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
I wish more people understood that 90 to 95% of their behaviors, beliefs, and perceptions are governed by subconscious programming. We have become so thoroughly conditioned by social norms and television, that very few people realize how well trained we are in the art of self-sabotage. Day in day out, we are subjected to the Shock Doctrine on a deep and personal level. Trauma has become the defining feature of our lives from cradle to grave, and has deeply influenced our personas. . We have become thoroughly domesticated by it. It’s really no wonder why there is so much apathy and inaction in the world. Once you recognize the cultural abuse each of us has been exposed to, the copious amounts of emotional and psychological baggage everyone carries around becomes easy to understand.
What makes it worse is that we feel compelled to keep these suffocating burdens internalized and hidden from those close to us; a self-defeating act that only serves to amplify our anguish. We retreat into our own privatized soul prisons, doing our best to hide in plain site from the rest of the world so we can carry on with our inauthentic lives. Our greatest collective fear is personal exposure. Revealing our true selves, and pursuing our true aspirations, must be avoided at all costs. We construct walls that require so much time and effort that our zest for life, and our very spirit, begins to atrophy. Who in their right mind would call this a life?
I’m not saying we should demand perfection from ourselves or others. I myself am guilty of being overly guarded and passive a lot of the time. But at the very least I now accept that an account balance or credit report does not define who I am, or what I am capable of. I have given myself permission to pursue life unencumbered by false notions surrounding modern selfhood and security. I did not require any God to forgive my sins; I stepped into my own power and forgave myself. If you wait around for from some external savior to do it for you, you’ll be a day late and a dollar short.
Everyone on occasion succumbs to the familiar trappings of self-doubt, melancholy, and alienation. While your conscious mind may recognize the noxious origins of these crippling attitudes, it goes to show you how deeply colonized the subconscious can become, and how difficult and ongoing the process of detoxifying oneself truly is. Don’t be too hard on yourself. The predatory Self-Help Industry pulls in 11 billion dollars a year for a reason.
While we each confront different challenges in our personal lives, the shared experience of living under a dehumanizing regime is our collective inheritance. As a result, many of us have fallen victim to what Joe Bageant would call a Stockholm syndrome of the Soul. We have been traumatized into relating with our own captors. I would argue its well within our power to break free and heal ourselves; that we possess the ability to reinvent our realities. But the longer we choose to perpetuate this senseless charade by deferring personal authority to the least among us, the longer our collective misery will ensue. You don’t need some for-profit, piece of shit life-coach to overcome your personal issues; and we don’t need some asshole politician or technocrat to solve our collective issues. All we require is the courage to confront our own fears, ignorance, and shortcomings. And I promise you, real courage cannot be bought, or handed down from on high, only learned through direct experience.
This is why I see so much value in studying, engaging with, and aligning oneself with Open-Source. It celebrates truth, integration, and reinvention. To borrow a quote from author Bill McKibben, “Such a shift is neither liberal nor conservative. It borrows some elements from our reigning political philosophies, [but] in [many] ways [it is] repugnant to each.” We can all plainly see that the closed-era operating system most of us subscribe to no longer serves humanity or the biosphere. We have long since past the point of diminishing returns. Our society continues to pray at the altar of economic growth while the masses of people who actually create tangible value are falling further behind every day. Environmental destruction is accelerating at an alarming rate as we appear to have reached peak-everything. And what should be most obvious is the extreme depth of widespread unhappiness everywhere on earth.
What keeps me optimistic in the face of these tragedies is that Open-Source is premised in freeing human beings and spaceship-earth from the restrictive chains of this proprietary paradigm. It is about liberation through honesty, integrity, and abolishing traditional hierarchy on all levels. It is about self-actualizing through first-hand engagement, not by second-hand proxy. It is about realizing your infinite potential as a transcendent creature on this planet. I can think of no better model for building a society, or for conducting one’s own life.
While I feel that anthropomorphizing the idea of God can sometimes be counterproductive in getting your message across, I mostly agree with Harvard Professor Clay Christensen’s assessment of the human endgame when he says: “When I have my interview with God at the end of my life, he’s not going to ask [me] how high I climbed in any organization, or how much money I left behind in the bank…But rather he’ll say: I put you in that [particular] circumstance, [so let’s] talk about the individual people you helped to become better people…let’s talk about the individual people you blessed because you used your individual talents to help them.”
I concur that the measure of any life spans far beyond the scope of our 3-dimensional perspective. We must understand and acknowledge the illusions that surround us if we wish to move beyond them. As ancient teachings have always suggested, and what frontier science is now in agreement with, is that the material world as we understand it is but one level of a much grander reality. We are dynamic incarnations embedded within a vast open system of interconnected potentials. Matter is nothing more than an ongoing process of virtual particle exchange, frozen into sequential 3-D screenshots by our own observations. Reality as we know it springs forth from an active, timeless river of ever evolving information.
Non-Linear Thermodynamics and Systems Theory teaches us that complex open systems such as ours inevitably reach a chaos point. I think any thinking person who has studied the converging environmental and socio-economic crises of our age recognizes this as well. However, while the system appears as if it’s moving toward collective disorder, in fact a new order is taking shape. All of us have the opportunity to participate and co-evolve with the planet at this historic turning point of bifurcation. Our time as co-creators of a new paradigm has arrived. Each of us is called to share our gifts with the world, to offer up our own creative potential.
Ignore the conservative aspect of yourself urging you to stay practical. If you feel drawn to do something, then walk the path. Even if you fail, there is an infinite amount of knowledge and wisdom to be gained from that experience. While we certainly require more coherent public intelligence, our world is lacking in guiding wisdom worst of all. Only by taking risks and experiencing trial and error can we discover this for ourselves. For example, I tried standup comedy last year and completely bombed. Instead of disappointment, I felt a certain amount of pride. I learned that I didn’t require some external stamp of approval to be satisfied with myself, and secondly, I found out I actually possess a spine. What more could I really ask for?
I strongly encourage you to follow the lead of inspiring risk-takers like Marcin Jakubowski, founder of Open Source Ecology, and help bring in the new post-scarcity era. Ignore the detractors in your life. The inner-shift and the outer-shift must go hand-in-hand. Whether you are a producer of Open Source hardware, or are a producer of Open Source ideas, all contributions are welcome.
I recently listened to a TED talk from motivational speaker Jeni Stepanek. Her 13 year old son Mattie died of muscular dystrophy in 2004. What that kid accomplished during his short time on earth puts most of us to shame. During her presentation Jeni gave this sage advice:
“Any life story is going to be filled with both blessings and burdens…clearly some stories seem more heavily weighted with one versus the other, but really how life is viewed, how life is lived, comes from how each person chooses to balance the realities of their life…Mattie believed everything in life has choice…nobody chooses to be born with a disability, to live in poverty, to be bullied, to die young, but he did believe that within those realities there is still the choice of your attitude…still the choice of how you think, and speak, and act, how you move into each next moment and how you reflect your realities out into the world…our heart song is our unique gift, our reason for being…things we enjoy…that’s what we’re called to offer to others…[what we have to offer] is not measured by how it is given or how many people it touches, not measured by fame, or wealth, or how long you live…they aren’t really measured [at all], they are realized when they are offered.”
We should never forget that while life is about personal growth, we cannot develop in isolation from one another. We need to share our gifts in an effort to rebuild real community. Unfortunately, most of us exist exclusively within networks, and networks are not communities. To quote renowned education reformer John Taylor Gatto, “Networks make people lonely… [they] do great harm by appearing enough like real communities to create expectations that they can manage human emotional and psychological needs…I belong to some networks myself, of course, but the only ones I consider completely safe are the ones that reject their communal façade, acknowledge their limits, and concentrate solely on helping me do a specific and necessary task.” In other words networking opportunities such as Face Book and College have their place, but buyers beware. Having 5,000 online pseudo-friends and a debt-funded college degree does not make you anymore valuable or useful. Instead make the choice to self-evaluate, develop personal utility, and connect with your locality. Any chance we have at a durable and sustainable future depends on authentic people, capable of creating value, working in tandem with one another. If you are at all interested, I would suggest researching the SEED-SCALE model for community development.
I contend we are here for a reason. Life is an opportunity, not some cosmic accident. We are not generic meat popsicles whose only purpose is to get taxed to death, behave like walking billboards for corporate merchandise our whole lives, and then fade into nothingness. We are here to evolve spiritually, explore our outer-limits, and create a better world. Have some fun while you can. Reconcile your contradictions and learn to love yourself. It is all part of being human. The path leading toward a happier existence is open to all of us if we are brave enough to walk it. I challenge you to Open-Source yourself, then start Open-Sourcing the world.
Thank you again for watching. I wish you all the best.