The shared values can be divided into three parts:
I Basic Values
The primary value is "Us". "Us" means seeing that all living things and the whole mother Earth is a whole and each have our place in it. The human community is but one node in the vast web of life. All of us thrive or die together. From this primary value come many supporting values:
- Connection: The meaning of life and happiness is not accumulating things for status, nor in the endless seeking of sensual pleasures. Neither can a life spent in pursuit of these things be redeemed by pretending to ourselves that others had misunderstood our true noble intent. A Chinese tale told us that Heaven and Hell are the same: they are both have huge banquet tables with all manner of delicious food, but the chopsticks are way too long. In Hell, no matter how hard the people try, they can't get even one bite into their own mouth. Even when they hold the chopsticks close to the feeding end, the rest of their chopstick would clash with the others' chopsticks. There is endless striving and fighting and everyone starve in the face of plenty. In Heaven, the people are well-fed and happy. They feed each other. The true meaning of life lies in seeing others and helping them. When we selflessly help another, we form a real connection with them, and they with us. It is this connection that makes us truly happy and fulfilled, and gives our lives real meaning.
- Regenerative agriculture: This means we grow food by stewarding rather than exploiting the land. This way, we enrich the soil food web and all other animal life around us. It is through doing this that we put all manner of delicious food on our banquet table. And through this that we feed not just each other, but all living things as well.
- Commons: We eschew capitalism and destructive competition, and meet our needs by collaboration and building the commons. To avoid the tragedy of the common, we work together to put in place systems to ensure collaboration is always the most rewarding option. We know that commons can and do fail because of bad actors. We will weed out those whose goal is to free-ride, those who want to just let others feed them but do not want to feed others.
- Deep democracy: We eschew command and control as the primary form of social organization, and opt for deep democracy. This way, we ensure no insight is suppressed or ignored. This will also help to prevent us becoming ideological and inflexible in how to achieve our goals. At the same, we also know that 100% consensus is not always possible and commit to support the majority decision once it is made. In order to prevent steeplejacking there needs to be safeguards undergirding this deep democracy. A small number of elders with proven track record will have the power to remove members who values are proven to be contrary and detrimental to ours.
- Mutual respect: It is highly unusual for a person to be always right or always wrong. We all have moments of brilliance and blindness. The healthy way for the brilliance to emerge and heeded, and for the blindness to retire and discarded, is through ensuring that all voices are heard. But deep democracy can't work without active listening and mutual respect. We must learn to challenge blindness without demeaning the person, and to follow brilliance without creating pedestals.
- Footprint minimization: If all of humanity lives like we do, will it benefit or hurt the planet? To have integrity, we must have a footprint that is less than one earth. We don't have to be there already, but we must keep striving to reach it (i.e., attain sustainability) and beyond (become regenerative).
II Commitment to hard work
It is not easy to live regeneratively on the land because it requires minimization and eventual elimination of fossil fuel. A lot of task will need to be done with electrical or hand tools. Most manufactured chemicals won't be usable. And so on. There will be a continuous stream of projects to wean ourselves off the old ways we used to live. Such changes in habits are hard work. The commitment comes from deep democracy: the whole community will prioritize what to focus on next and collaborate to achieve the goal. For this to be successful, everyone must share this commitment to hard work and the understanding that all work is sacred and have the same value.
III Emotional maturity and spiritual growth
Most intentional communities fail because of interpersonal issues. Emotional maturity is thus a key criterion for admission, and if breaches are serious enough, it is also a reason for expulsion from Labishire. We all have baggage and flaws. The key is not perfection but having the willingness to take responsibility, to put oneself in the other person's shoes, and the commitment to develop new emotional maturity skills and habits when we receive feedback about where we fall short. In brief, we recognize that we cannot effectively steward the earth without also attending to our own spiritual growth. It is through our own spiritual growth that we can better understand our place in the web of life. Here are some of the values needed for successful community living:
- Taking accountability: The ability to step up and admit mistake, and the ability to clearly diagnose problems and solve them effectively. Signs of inability to be accountable include: blaming others for the problem, refusing to consider certain possibilities because one would then be implicated as being at fault, and making excuses and claiming that such problems are inevitable and cannot be solved.
- Personal integrity: The ability to speak the truth even when the truth is unflattering to oneself or unpopular with others. Signs of the lack of integrity includes: distorting facts or hiding behind "good intentions" to avoid personal accountability. E.g., "I didn't finish the task because I wanted it to be perfect and I'm still figuring out how to make it so. I'm already trying my best."
- Awareness: The ability to know when we are in alignment or out of alignment with our goals and with each other. Signs of the lack of awareness includes: bulldozing ahead when others are urging circumspection, or insisting that nothing needs to be done when more and more are getting uneasy.
- Compassion and empathy: The ability to get over oneself and really see and feel others so that the dance of give and take is smooth and effortless rather than strained and begrudging.
- Empowering and lifting others up: The ability to share knowledge and make others feel confident about taking on responsibility.
- Humility: The ability to know deep down that no one has all the answers but we each might be holding a small piece of it. This is especially important when it comes to political views. Demonizing of others will not lead to greater collaboration or pleasant community living.
Here are some key articles to read, so that you get a better sense of the fundamental values we embrace:
- Medium article: What is a Homestead Commons? Why does it matter?
- Medium article: In Praise of Collaborative Labor
- Youtube: 'Humanity's Phase Shift', Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Youtube: The War on Sensemaking, Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Open Democracy: Exiting the Vampire Castle, Mark Fisher
- Medium article: Does Liberalism Have a Future
- Medium article: An open source toolkit for self and social transformation
Are there other values that you think should be included? Leave a comment below!