What We've Done & Learned So Far:
Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Part Two
By David Sunfellow
(The following article first appeared in a special report called, "NHNE Y2K VisionQuest: Part One: Without Vision, The People Perish" Along with serving as the Director of the Sedona Y2K Task Force, David is also the President & Founder of NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE), which currently publishes a weekly Y2K report along with special reports like the one mentioned above. The following article was a part of a longer, more in depth exploration of current Y2K issues, including local grassroots efforts.)
Tuesday, March 30, 1999
"It is better to get rid of the problem and keep the person, than to get rid of the person and keep the problem."
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD: PART TWO
"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY"
Lest we think that the kind of "Don't worry, everything is going to be OK" comments coming out of Washington D.C. and other power centers have no impact on our daily lives and decisions, let me update you on my experience as the Director of the Sedona Y2K Task Force.
During the nine months that I have been actively involved as a Y2K organizer, I've helped build grassroots organizations in Sedona (and our surrounding communities), spoken at numerous public gatherings, participated in panel discussions, attended endless organizational meetings, talked to city councils, been interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers, helped organize the nation's first state-wide gathering of Y2K grassroots preparedness groups, even become a low-grade celebrity that is appreciated by some and villianized by others in my local community.
And now I am at a crossroads. And so are many others who have done what they can to mobilize their communities.
The prime directive in most Y2K community-preparedness efforts is to help everyone in the community get prepared. It has, of course, been a given that not everyone is going to get prepared, but that's OK -- those of us who realize the seriousness of the situation will have to do what we can to compensate for the lack of interest/awareness of those in our community who are not taking Y2K seriously. The job of getting our local news organizations to accurately report on Y2K; of motivating local governments to prepare for potential disturbances; of asking infrastructure representatives for proof that their systems are as compliant as they say they are; of convincing as many people as possible that Y2K needs to be taken seriously, falls to us. And if we fail to inform and mobilize our community? Well, our the collective ship sinks, taking ALL of us down with it.
There has, in other words, been a strong focus on saving the current system for fear that not doing so could lead to a complete collapse of society. Most of the grassroots organizers that I have been in touch with have also emphasized the idea that Y2K is an opportunity to introduce alternative ways of living, thinking, and acting into the mainstream -- organic gardening, permaculture, eco-villages, alternative energy, holistic healing, roundtable forms of governance, more spiritually-based organizations and relationships, various forms of self-sufficiency and community, etc. The idea has been to shore up the current system long enough for new systems to take root and, eventually, take over.
While I like the idea of there being a smooth transition from old ways of doing things to new ways, on most of the fronts I am aware of, this is not what is happening. The powers, institutions, mindsets that dominate the world today are, for the most part, not viewing Y2K as a major failing of our current system, nor are they seeing it as an opportunity to explore new ways of doing things. Rather, Y2K is a minor "bump-in-the-road" they intend to fix and then continue on their merry, often destructive and dysfunctional ways.
And while a growing number of people around the world are questioning the viability of today's social, political, economic models -- and looking for and experimenting with new ones -- most of the world isn't. Like our public leaders, most people are expecting Y2K to be fixed and the world to continue pretty much as is.
In Sedona, most of the people don't believe Y2K is a serious threat and don't plan to do much about it. Their marching orders are coming from our local newspaper, which says Y2K is mostly hype; our local infrastructure representatives, who all say they are on top of their particular problems; our local city government, which doesn't want to be associated with our grassroots efforts and organization; and the Federal government, led by John Koskenin, who apparently has decided to spin-doctor everything to prevent panic. Awareness has increased, and there is a general consensus that there will probably be minor problems here and there. But the thought that we could be facing a major meltdown is not a serious consideration in the minds of most of the people in my community.
In Sedona and elsewhere, many of us who have been trying to inform and mobilize our local communities are being called fearmongers, radicals, and troublemakers. This "shoot the messenger" mentality is particularly unfortunate because those of us who are most informed about Y2K (and who often got the Y2K awareness ball rolling in our local communities), have important knowledge, experience, and resources that could be used to help our communities make a graceful passage through Y2K.
But the bottom line is that most people do not want to hear that the system we have built our lives upon may be in serious trouble and that new systems may need to be explored if we expect to make a successful leap from one millennium to the next.
Because of this, many grassroot organizers are now faced with two pressing questions:
1. Can we change the minds of people, institutions, corporations, newspapers, city governments, friends and neighbors who have chosen to believe Y2K is not a serious problem?
2. Should we, even if we can?
"YOU MUST CHOSE GOOD, IF YOU WOULD FIND HAPPINESS"
Many years ago, while wrestling with another issue like this one, I had a dream:
In my dream, the Earth is being invaded by aliens. The aliens are slowly infiltrating the entire world, taking over people's bodies and consciousness and turning them into zombies. I see this happening and desperately try to warn others. But no one listens until it is too late. Finally, I am the last human being left untouched. I begin flying through the sky, trying to escape, and am violently attacked by an alien. Fighting for my life, a ferocious battle ensues. The next thing I know, I am transported to a large open meadow where a crowd of human zombies are gathered. They are all standing there, frozen in a coma of sorts. A voice asks me what I want to do? I reply, without thinking, that I want everyone to turn back into the people they were before the aliens came and took them over. The voice questions me more deeply, "Are you SURE this is what you want to happen?" I realize now that I have the power to make anything happen and I have to think my decision through very carefully. As I do, I realize that it is not my place to interfere with the lives and choices of others. At this point, a presence seems to take over my consciousness and it fills the meadow with a loud penetrating message: "Every single being has the potential for good or evil. You must choose good if you would find happiness."
This dream shook me to my core. And it left me with what has become one of the guiding principles of my life: I am here to help others discern "good" choices (choices that led to peace and happiness) from "bad" ones (choices that led to pain and suffering), but not interfere, or try to "save" anyone from anything.
The idea of "saving" our local community was an important topic in some of our local Task Force meetings. We all agreed we couldn't save everyone in our community from potential Y2K problems, and shouldn't try to. We would do what we could to get the information out to those who were interested, and then help as much as we could get prepared. And that was it. The rest would be left to God and whatever destiny people chose for themselves.
LAYING LOW IN SEDONA
On February 15th of this year, our local Task Force organized a state-wide gathering of all the preparedness groups in Arizona. In all, about 70 people attended. Just before the event began, we received word that the office space we had been using, which had been graciously donated to us by a local realtor, was about to be rented. We had 14 days to decide whether we would rent the building ourselves, or move. Since we didn't have enough income to rent the space, we decided to leave.
Prior to losing our office space, we had also been losing people and energy. Some of our steering committee members had resigned, other steering committee members experienced painful, unexpected deaths in their families, office volunteers were having difficulty covering their office shifts for various reasons, our local teams were floundering because we didn't have enough people to provide constant leadership, and the calls to our office had begun to taper off.
When news arrived that our office was about to be rented to someone else, it seemed obvious that the time had come to take a break. Perhaps this was the calm before the storm: a time to rest, regroup, and focus on preparing ourselves and our families, which had been largely neglected because of our efforts to inform and organize the community.
Or perhaps there was a larger, more fundamental message being delivered: choices were being made, on all our parts, as to whether we were going to view Y2K as a potentially serious storm (as an increasing number of credible sources were indicating), or downplay it (as our political leaders and mainstream news sources were doing).
Significantly, most of the people who attended our local meetings, fell in one of two groups:
1. People who were already pursuing alternative lifestyles of one kind or another;
2. People who had personally experienced major upheavals in their lives (the Great Depression and World War II, for instance).
Many of the people who attended our meetings also had either direct or indirect access to the Internet (which is where the best, most current and accurate information about Y2K is located). People who were content with their lives and/or who depended upon mainstream news sources and authorities for their information did not appear to attend our meetings in significant numbers.
All told, our Task Force reached a significant portion of our local population -- several thousand people at least -- in an area that has a population of about 12,000. And while we did not light up the entire city of Sedona like we hoped we would, we did take comfort in the fact that many people now knew how serious Y2K was, and were responding. At the last public meeting we held, which had been called to let those who were interested know where we were at as a Task Force, many people told us that the work we had done had planted many seeds which were now taking root: quietly, behind the scenes, many people were now actively working with their neighbors, stocking up on food and water, and preparing, on all levels, for whatever disruptions Y2K may bring our way.
What's next? None of us are sure. Our next general meeting is planned for mid-April and we'll decide then what our next step will be.
Perhaps the Sedona Task Force will reemerge, working hand-in-hand with local public officials, news sources, and a larger, more receptive public at large. Perhaps we won't; perhaps we'll be less visible publicly and, instead, focus on the network of alternative-minded people we've hooked up with behind the scenes.
In the meantime, I'm keeping a low public profile, recuperating from the last nine months of intense outer work in Sedona, concentrating on preparing myself and my family for potential disruptions, doing what I can to pump new life and energy into NHNE, and preparing for the Y2K visionquest we are about to embark on...
Go to complete report:
"NHNE Y2K VisionQuest: Part One: Without Vision, The People Perish"
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