Important Note

This page needs to be refactored.

Specifically, it needs to be framed as a transformation. Specifically, a transformation of what Zion means to us, and the plans and schemes to get there. More inquiry into this is required!!!

Zion is a Utopia

Zion is a word I stole to name a world that works for everyone.

  • Imagine there's no Heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today
  • Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace
  • You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will be as one
  • Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world
  • You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one

In Zion, the New Paradigm is applied universally.


The Matrix protects itself and the status quo. Getting out of it, destroying it, breaking it down. FIXME

The "Bootstrapping" Process

After defining a society that works for everyone, the obvious question is, “How do we get there from here?” I describe this as a “bootstrapping” process, borrowing a term from computer science to describe how a computer that has just been turned on gets to the point where an operating system can be loaded.

Unfortunately, it looks like building Zion will have to be a gradual process. Waiting for Jesus to come back hasn't worked for 2,000 years. Below are some strategies that also haven't worked.

Requirements for a Bootstrapping Process that Works

  1. Powers must be separated. FIXME
  2. All the powers that represent the people must not be inhibited by any of the powers that exploit the people.
  3. ALL pre-existing relationships in people's lives must be allowed, and perhaps encouraged, to continue to exist. We must not ask people to (for example) cut their families off if they refuse to join.
  4. The mandate that the world work for everyone must not be permanently compromised.

Shortcuts That Don't Work

Since bootstrapping a Utopian society is very hard to do, previous attempts have tried a number of tactics to make it more likely to succeed. These specific strategies are doomed to failure. There may be others that will work without sabotaging future success; I'll explore those later.


It's a fact that using pressure tactics will get more people involved more quickly. It also breeds resentment among both participants and people who choose not to participate; it also guarantees that some people will become and remain involved for “the wrong reasons,” that their transformation will be incomplete, and the effectiveness of the project will be permanently compromised.

Settling Hash
  • “You can't talk to a man with a shotgun in his hand.” - Carole King, “Smackwater Jack”

Confrontation doesn't make friends. Getting up in someone's face and settling their hash will only make it more difficult (I think) to cause them to hear and understand what you're saying. So there's that.

There's also a whole category of things you really can't “get” by being told. Try telling someone with an attitude problem that they have an attitude problem and see how it goes.

Personally, I'm of two minds about this idea, because part of my experience with Landmark was having people settle my hash, and while it was difficult, it helped me become who I am today. On the other hand, I can see it in terms of abuse. Some of the things they say seem pretty degrading, like “you're an asshole and your life doesn't work.” (One of my best memories from Landmark was having Linda Zraik tell me that exact thing, actually. I ate it up.) You never have to hit a dog or a person as part of their training. (“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is nonsense, fuelled by a serious thinking error.) Is being so forceful with people like hitting them with words instead of your hand?

I'm also pretty sure that confronting people like this will be useless for what I'm trying to do. It seems like settling someone's hash is about making them comply, which probably has more to do with making a person a part of The Matrix rather than rescuing them from it.

This also applies to your work with yourself. I am 99% sure that you settling your own hash is counter-productive. I've been doing it for years and years and I'm pretty sure it's not why I've done as well as I have. Letting that go, giving myself permission to be where I am, and relating to myself with love and acceptance, rather than resentment and condemnation; gentle coaching and inquiry rather than commands and demands; it's all part of the larger commitment to always be offering more while demanding less.


It's logical to think that it would be easier to create a Utopia using a small number of people and then growing. So a group of people will strike out on their own and build a commune that works, or doesn't, depending on lots of factors. The isolation makes it difficult to attract new people, because the view from the inside is that “we” are special, better, know more, etc., and that “they” are less-than, stupid, doomed, etc. The view from the outside is that “they” are a cult, weird, crazy, etc. It's almost impossible to prevent this listening to develop, and it creates a rift between the commune and the outside world, and even if they succeed at building a world that works for them, it's challenging to bring more people in. Pressure may start to come into use to try to bring more people in, and it will work to a certain degree in the short term, but it will be detrimental in the long term.

Insider Lingo, or Jargon

Most communities develop a lexicon of their own, and it's fine to have some of that, but for this project to work, it will be necessary to have our jargon match the normal language of the rest of the world as closely as possible. This is the position of highest integrity, and tightest coupling with the rest of the world.

Also see the policy page on jargon.

New Names, Identifiers, Identities

It's a subtle form of alienation, disguised as help, to give someone a new name to call themselves as part of their journey. “You're not the old David anymore; you're Naptastic now” will inevitably have the effect of drawing me in more to the isolated group and isolating me from people “on the outside.”

(Note that while the LDS temple ceremonies involve a “new name,” it's entirely different: you don't go by the new name and you don't change your identity as part of the process. That's not to say Mormons don't practice isolation, because they do, but I just want to be clear that I understand the “new name” is not one of the isolating devices.)

Isolation from family, friends, and "outsiders"


In an isolated system, it's easy for one person, or a small group of people, to essentially take over and become dictators whose word is law. Sometimes this is the case from the very start. It's extremely problematic, because the dictator(s) will almost certainly not hold themselves to the same standard they hold everybody else. They will put their own interests before everyone else's. The world will almost certainly not work for many people in the commune. As things fall apart, bad things happen, like riots, coups, and as we see all too often, mass suicides.

Blind Trust

Killing People

  • “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Isaac Asimov.

You really, really cannot make the world a better place by killing people.


While very rare, a system that isolates itself and creates a dictator will sometimes become totalitarian: the exploitative powers merge and grow out of control, and the protective powers are suppressed or outlawed. Dissenters are exiled, imprisoned, tortured, executed; the government / corporation / church forces false confessions from people; the media becomes a tool to keep people in line. North Korea is the best example of this today, but many middle-eastern countries are close.


  • “For genocide to happen, there must be certain preconditions. Foremost among them is a national culture that does not place a high value on human life. A totalitarian society, with its assumed superior ideology, is also a precondition for genocidal acts. In addition, members of the dominant society must perceive their potential victims as less than fully human: as 'pagans,' 'savages,' 'uncouth barbarians,' 'unbelievers,' 'effete degenerates,' 'ritual outlaws,' 'racial inferiors,' 'class antagonists,' 'counterrevolutionaries,' and so on. In themselves, these conditions are not enough for the perpetrators to commit genocide. To do that—that is, to commit genocide—the perpetrators need a strong, centralized authority and bureaucratic organization as well as pathological individuals and criminals. Also required is a campaign of vilification and dehumanization of the victims by the perpetrators, who are usually new states or new regimes attempting to impose conformity to a new ideology and its model of society.”
  • – M. Hassan Kakar, emphasis mine.

Is There Ever A Place For Any Of These Shortcuts?

It's possible, maybe, but the default position needs to be no. Perhaps in some cases, the only way to get someone to do something helpful might be to settle their hash. But is that really worth it? And is this program really about “getting” people to do or be some way other than the way they are?

You never have to hit a dog; you never have to hit a child. These are commonly or universally accepted now, but they were once radically progressive.

:?: Do you ever need to yell at someone? Do you ever need to be sarcastic, snarky, or catch them in a verbal “gotcha”? Do you ever need to cause guilt, manipulate, or force an outcome? Aren't those things just hitting someone with words instead of hands?

ground_rules/zion.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/17 02:10 by admin
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