Thrive: The Story is Wrong but the Spirit is Right

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"What is keeping us from thriving?" asks the new
movie, Thrive.
The answer it gives is "the global elite," the people who control the
financial system that in turn controls everything else. Operating through the
power institutions of our society, this elite pursues a conscious agenda of
total world dominance, purposely suppressing anything that would disrupt their
power: from clean energy to alternative cancer cures.

This answer might serve to give expression to feelings of
rage, hate, grief, and indignation that otherwise, in a world where the
wrongness is so ubiquitous as to seem woven into the fabric of reality itself,
would turn inward. Ultimately, though, this answer feeds the  mentality of control that is a much
deeper culprit in humanity's failure to thrive.

To put primary blame on the global elite says that the primary problem is
not the system; it is the masters of the system. If only they were not such
awful, greedy — in a word, evil — people, they would relent and create a
new system. Certainly that's what you and I would do if we were in a position
of power — right? Because we, unlike they, are decent people. In other words,
the culprit for the planet's woes is evil, which implies that the solution
is to somehow defeat or eliminate evil (though to its credit, Thrive
advocates non-violent means to accomplish this.)

The quest to create a better world through conquering evil lies at the heart
of civilization as we know it. Originating in the earliest agricultural
civilizations, the concept of evil first applied to weeds, wolves, locusts,
hail storms, and other natural phenomena that were, before agriculture, merely
parts of an interdependent whole, and not the enemies of mankind.

In the ensuing millennia, the War Against Evil developed in
tandem with technology and religion. The conquest of nature extended into the
internal realms and became a struggle for self-mastery, self-control, and the
transcendence of the flesh. It extended into the social realm as programs of
social engineering that sought to eliminate evil on a mass scale. Taken to its
extreme, it took the form of purges, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, Nazism,
Stalinism, Maoism. In other words, the elimination of evil lends itself to the
very same dominator mindset that is part of the problem.

Thrive advocates peaceful non-compliance with the
institutions of domination, except in cases of "self-defense". But
when you see an enemy implacably bound to enslave you or murder you, the line
between defense and offense blurs. What war of aggression in the last hundred
years has not been justified as a kind of self-defense? The Indians are
scalping innocent settlers! The North Vietnamese communists attacked our ships
in the Gulf of Tonkin! Remember the Lusitania! The terrorist regime is
producing weapons of mass destruction!

That is not to say that there aren't powerful people in the
world that do tremendous damage, or that these people should not be held to
account. These people, however, are produced and given power by a system that
runs deeper than anyone's capacity to design. It is a system that has taken on
a life of its own, a system that includes even the film's favorite targets —
the Rockefellers and Rothschilds — among its thralls. The money system — born
of interest-bearing debt and generating separation and exponential growth — is
at its core, but even the money system rests on a deeper foundation. It rests
on our civilization's defining myths: scarcity, reductionism, determinism,
dualism, separation. But as the filmmaker must know, these stories have run
their course, and so has the world built atop them.

The money system and its underlying mythology necessitate
the roles that the power elite fill. Remove those people without changing the
underlying beliefs, and new tyrants will rise to take their place. However
strong our idealism, do we imagine that our revolution against evil will
produce results any better than the French Revolutionaries or the Bolsheviks
did? The War against Evil never ends, because it generates a limitless supply
of new enemies, progeny of its own shadow.

Perhaps there was a conscious conspiracy to suppress free
energy devices, alternative cancer therapies, and so forth, or maybe it was an
unconscious conspiracy comprising the agents of the status quo whose careers
and intellectual paradigms these technologies violate. In either case, the
suppression is decreasingly effective, as the guardians and executors of the
system struggle just to keep it going a couple years longer. The analogy to
control-based technologies of agriculture or medicine is quite precise. You can
suppress each new pesticide-resistant weed with a new chemical, but eventually
the consequences of chemical agriculture pile up faster than you can invent new
technological fixes to deal with them. It works great at first and yields rise
significantly with very little effort, but eventually huge chemical input is
needed even to break even. In medicine, you can suppress with a pharmaceutical
drug the symptoms caused by the last pharmaceutical drug, but eventually the
patient is on twenty medications and getting no better; synergistic side
effects proliferate and the patient rapidly deteriorates. Such is the
inevitable end game for any program of control.  The illusion of control can only be maintained temporarily,
and at ever greater cost.

If there ever was an Illuminati orchestrating world events,
it has lost control. Today, the atmosphere among the financial elite fluctuates
between panic and resignation. They cannot be bothered to suppress films like Thrive,
like What on Earth, like Moon Rising, magazines like Infinite
, and all the information freely available on the Internet that is
accelerating the shift of consciousness away from separation and scarcity.

The ground has already begun to shift, and that shift will
accelerate as the "old normal" falls apart. It has fallen apart in
many ways already, yet its afterimage lingers. The supermarkets are still full
of food, the malls full of shoppers, the highways full of cars, and the ATM's
full of cash. The last-ditch strategy of the financial elite, "extend and
pretend", applies to our entire society. It is still possible to pretend
that the world of our parents will be the world of our children, and to extend
its lifestyle a few more years. But that pretense is wearing thin.

Despite this criticism, I would say that Thrive gets the
story wrong but the spirit right. The dominator model is not an evil to
overcome, but rather an evolutionary stage that has reached its fulfillment and
is giving way to something new. Toward the end, the film touches on this
understanding through the words of Elisabet Sahtouris, who likens the present
historical moment to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly, or to
the transition of an ecosystem from headlong growth in its immature state, to
symbiotic homeostasis in its mature state. I wish the film had given her
greater voice, and developed the idea that the power elite are not
reprehensible villains, but players of a role soon to become obsolete. This
would be an attitude of forgiveness and invitation. After all, the rewards of
the rich, whether measured in money or political power, do little to further
their authentic happiness. The rest of us, having not attained the pinnacle of
success, can at least tell ourselves that our angst would be relieved if only
we reached the top of the ladder. The power elite have no such anodyne to
assuage the desolation of life at the top. The system, in other words, isn't
working for them either. We want to invite the 1% into a world that is better
for everyone.

The film argues that if only we threw off the yoke of the
tyrannical Illuminati, we would live in a magnificent, abundant, peaceful
world. For example, it says, the deliberate suppression of "free
energy" technology would end. Again, the film gets the story wrong but the
spirit right. I won't consider here the scientific plausibility of such
technology, which appears to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but will
rather address the film's contention that the main reason for the misery of the
Third World masses is lack of access to energy, and that unlimited clean energy
would be a near-panacea for humanity's problems and would usher in an era of
abundance. The story here — call it "technological utopianism" — is
that technology is going to rescue us, create a new and better world, and solve
our problems.  We have heard this
story many times before, starting with the steam engine, and proceeding through
electricity, chemicals, atomic energy, computers, economics and political
science, nanotechnology… each invention promised an age of leisure, freedom
from disease, social perfection, and other wonders; two hundred years later,
none of these promises has been redeemed. We work longer hours than in 1973
and, by many measures, are sicker and unhappier than a primitive tribesperson
or peasant.

Why has the promise of technology never been redeemed? If
not an evil illuminati consciously suppressing or co-opting the technologies of
abundance, what has kept us in a state of scarcity and extreme inequality? If
we don't address the reason at its root, and instead blame it on evil people,
we will never redeem the promise either.

The truth is that without a change in our consciousness and
in the social systems built on our consciousness, no technology will be any
more successful than any of those I just listed in bringing peace and
prosperity to all people on earth. Indeed, such a vision, and the technologies
that are part of it, seem "too good to be true" to someone accustomed
to scarcity and habituated to the responses to scarcity: domination, control,
struggle against each other and against nature. When this mindset changes, no
new technology is even necessary. We already have, and always have had,
potential abundance at our fingertips. The scarcity that so many experience
today is not the result of any fundamental lack, but rather of the
maldistribution of political power and resources. What kind of abundance would
we have if we didn't spend trillions of dollars on wars, guns, non-recyclable
packaging, sprawling suburbs, automobile culture, consumer junk,
transcontinental food, unnecessary pharmaceuticals, and every other form of
waste that contributes nothing to human happiness? In one way or another, all
of these things are the end products of a civilization built on separation.

A world of justice and abundance doesn't depend on any new
technology, yet it is also true that new kinds of technology will emerge from a
different kind of consciousness. The shift of consciousness of which I speak is
from separation to oneness; from being to "interbeing"; from a
discrete and separate self in an external objective universe, to an integral
part that contains the whole. The new self seeks less to dominate than to
cocreate, less to control than to share. It knows that the whole universe is as
alive and as conscious as oneself. From that perspective, technologies that do
no harm to other beings come naturally; from this perspective, it seems as a
matter of course that the universe wants to freely provide what we need, rather
than requiring us to wrest it from an indifferent or hostile environment. Thus
we have a paradox: we do not need new technology to enjoy abundance; yet, the
shift of perception that is necessary to enjoy abundance will also bring forth
new technology. Or we might say that free energy technology will be a symptom
that our consciousness has shifted, or perhaps an instrument for the
actualization of abundance consciousness in material reality. The filmmaker
understands that on some level. The spirit coming through is this: a more
beautiful world is possible, right in front of our faces, waiting only for us
to accept it. It is a spirit of vast possibility readily available.

Because it carries this spirit, the film has attracted a cult following
despite its disjointed editing, repetitiveness, and the narrator's frequent
resort to "I believe," and "I am firmly convinced" in place
of actual evidence or arguments. Indeed, at times it seems that the film wants
to be about Foster Gamble's personal journey to radicalism and hope. Despite
its flaws, in its invocation of evil and in its appeal to technological
salvation, Thrive arouses our conviction that the world isn't supposed
to be this way, and that a much better world is closer than we dare think. Even
if it wrongly ascribes the source of the problem and misidentifies the essence
of the solution, still it will stimulate people to deepen their questioning of
the boundaries of consensus reality. This is a good thing. Once the questioning
starts, it will not stop until we arrive at a new story aligned with the spirit
being born today.



Pkease join Charles Eisenstein for his upcoming Evolver Intensives webinar, "Living Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Transition" beginning November 30: . This series features extraordinary guests and expands on the subject of Charles' recent Evolver Editions book, Sacred Economics – crucial reading for the new paradigm:


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