March 23, 2010

Thoughts On Zeitgeist (3)

Zeitgeist and the Venus Project are of course highly idealistic in nature and some would say it's totally unrealistic. I would say to people who react like that; it's as realistic as you want it to be. It is fair to say that a transition from a monetary system to a resource based economy wont happen overnight. There will be a lot of resistance and judging from the negative comments on the Zeitgeist film, various groups of people will be inclined to say "no" to the proposals. As I see it religious folks would resist simply because the project seeks to diminish the influence of the many faiths. The (far) right of the political spectrum would resist because money would be abolished. Anti-technologists would resists since Zeitgeist is pro automation in many facets. And finally the 'have's', millionaires/billionaires, elitists, top industrialists and those in any kind of (political) power would resist because ultimately they would lose their advantage. The Venus Project certainly picked its fight, but in the end it's about the planet and a better world for everyone.

It's somewhat of a paradox. If you would ask people if they want a better place to live in with no crime, a cleaner environment, no pollutants, clean and free energy, readily available food and goods with no price tag, most people would say yes. Yet why didn't this occur already and why would some people resist a better world if it was presented to them? I can think of several reasons. The first one would be self interest. People will always try to survive and look out for number one, and that instinct doesn't go away even if they are millionaires. People will automatically protect what they got. Secondly, people fear the unknown and as a result of that fear change, especially if combines with the first reason I mentioned. Thirdly, because of their programming. Whether you realize it or not, every person receives 'programming.' It's your parents, school, church, media and society that shapes your brain from the moment you were born. Resisting a good idea, such as presenting a better world, can have many causes but it is human behavior that is at the core of the conundrum.

Religion is just one of the major hurdles and in the past intellectualism and religion have often turned out to be a bad combination. Maybe it was not wise to confront religion as it was done in the first Zeitgeist movie. What people consider to be holy is often if not always, vigorously defended. Modernizing religion has also proved to be a monumental task since people of the faith are inclined to stick to the old ways. The Catholic church pretty much remained the same institution for hundreds of years. Islam will also cling to the old scriptures just like orthodox Christianity. On YouTube it's plainly visible that Zeitgeist has many detractors from the religious corners of our society. There are a number of videos named 'Zeitgeist refuted' or 'Zeitgeist debunked' and what follows next is summarization of Biblical texts. It's not so much a logical and objective point-by-point analysis of Zeitgeist, it's simply taking out the Bible and claiming everything in it is fact and therefore Zeitgeist is wrong.

Personally, I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I remember that in my younger years we used to pray at the dinner table. I went to a Catholic school and even had bible lessons from the priest, and sowing lessons from the nuns. At the age of twelve I had my communion in church. These days I'm more of a Pantheist. Growing up in a liberal country such as Holland, my views on God simply changed over time. It's hard for me to embrace the concept of 'God's Will' when you see all the hardship and suffering in this world. A God willfully inflicting harm on His people is simply unacceptable, instead I've come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as 'Free Will.' People can basically do everything they want, no God is going to stop them. Maybe there is divine judgement in the afterlife but there's no interference in the present.

Maybe that is something deeply religious folks should try and fathom. Besides, I think that even in a futuristic, high-tech society that the Venus Project represents, there's still room for spirituality and God, the Source, the Creator whatever you want to call it. Doesn't the Bible say: 'Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself?' Didn't Jesus banish the money-exchangers from the temple? You can find those elements in the Zeitgeist film as well. Maybe we can start from there and be constructive. Maybe we can start thinking that the planet and all life in it, is holy.

(More on this later.)

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