home up prev next
menu down strt end

Why I'm in the Network For a New Culture

Before I (or anyone else) can answer the question "Why am I in the network?", I think it's necessary to first answer the question "What is the network?"

For me, the network is a loose association of individuals and small groups sharing at least some common positions and common goals. I believe that most persons in the network share a commitment to:

  1. The Project Meiga goal of a world without fear and violence;
  2. The belief that the personal is political--that politics and daily life are not separated, but in fact are intimately connectedthat how we lead our daily lives has a direct political and social impact;
  3. Personal growth. We can't live up to our full potential and we can't be fully effective in changing the world until we become clear about our own issues and are working actively to overcome our shortcomings. One important way to do that is through the practice of "transparency"--being open and honest about our thoughts, feelings, and actions;
  4. Individual freedom and individual responsibility--a commitment to building a world where voluntary cooperation will replace institutionalized coercion (e.g., government), a world in which decentralized groups operating democratically and practicing mutual aid will replace exploitive hierarchies;
  5. Sexual equality--creation of a world in which we can celebrate our differences and not look down on each other because of gender or sexual orientation. The social conditioning process has hurt men and women very differently and in very complex ways, and I'd hope that the members of the network would want to heal these hurts rather than to insist (like fundamentalist christians) that "biology is destiny," that the sexes have inherently different roles because of biology, and that one sex is superior to the other;
  6. Sexual freedom--the encouragement and practice of doing what you want simply because your heart tells you to do it. There is no right or wrong form of relating; the distinction is between following your genuine desires or settling for suboptimal (or no) relationships because of fear and hopelessness. Seen in this light, the questions of nonmonogamy or monogamy, open relationships or polyfidelity (or celibacy) become secondary--the real question is whether you're choosing out of a place of love and desire or are "settling" because of fear and hopelessness;
  7. Critical thinking--rejection of dogmatism. This involves not being overly impressed by the opinions of "experts"--even those whose works we find inspiring. It also involves a commitment to truth--letting facts and our reasoning abilities lead us where they will, and not "believing" things simply because we wish to;
  8. Ecological consciousness. In the long run, our survival and happiness depend on the survival and health of the earth;
  9. An experimental attitude toward life. No one has all the answers, so we'd do well to encourage each other to follow our dreams and desires. What's important is not that all of our experiments be important or productive; what is important is that we create an environment in which everyone will be encouraged to take risks and to follow their own desires;
  10. Intentional community--the creation of model communities in which to live our ideals and that will provide models that give hope and that inspire other people to emulate our models.
What I find tremendously exciting about these positions and beliefs is that the network seems to embrace them all, and so being in the network puts all of my social, political, and personal goals in one basket. For many years I operated on the assumption that doing anything for myself was selfish, so I did a lot of political drudge work; and my personal life was largely divorced from my political work--and neither was anywhere close to being fully satisfying. During that time, my life was very compartmentalized--I'd do my 9 to 5 job, go home, grab a bite, then often spend my evenings doing volunteer work on various anarchist projects, once a week going to a men's group, and once a month going to a nonmonogamy support group. The various anarchist projects had no connection to my day-to-day life; my men's group had no agenda other than self-help (via Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy); and the non-monogamy group I was in (Expanded Family Network) had no agenda other than nonmonogamy for its own sake; and I had very little connection with intentional communities. Some of my friends lived in intentional (to varying degrees) communities, but all of these communities seemed pretty dead because, I now realize, they had no purpose other than community itself--none of them had a higher purpose, the one essential ingredient of any successful community.

Eventually, I got sick of my compartmentalized life, and I also gave up on the idea that the best way to lessen the amount of misery in the world was to make myself miserable. I reached a point where I still wanted to improve the world, but where I also wanted to do work which would directly benefit me, and in which I could live a more integrated life. My involvement in the network largely satisfies my desires, both personal and social.

Why do I believe that the network will foster meaningful change? One of the beauties of the network is that we're creating models--city groups, work projects (summer and winter camp, for example), households, and, soon, I hope, small intentional communities; we're showing other people that there are other, better ways of living. And when people see attractive models, they tend to emulate them. So, just seeing what we're doing will provide hope to other people, and will inspire them to action.

Also, through our emphasis on personal growth, we encourage people to feel and to appreciate their own power, and to truly understand who they are and what their desires are. This often leads to a new sense of hope and to excitement about life. And once enough people feel hope and feel their own power, fundamental social change becomes possible. If people remain stuck in hopelessness, nothing will change. But if enough people begin to feel hope and to feel empowered, fundamental social changes will happen--not just in the areas of community and personal relationships, but all across the board.

In sum, I see the network as a means to realize my personal desires and as a way to make the world a better place.

--Chaz Bufe

Designed by

home up prev next
menu down strt end