Mine becomes ours: A tale about basic human decency ..
I'm member of the Couchsurfing community .. the implementation of a wonderful social idea, that people traveling abroad could meet local people for a talk, sightseeing and optionally get free accommodation ("couch") for the night instead of going to a hotel/hostal. In fact, for the unconference part of our upcoming conference, I'm using the couch of a local resident of Strasbourg!! :)
My experience with the people in the community was and is great!!! I made a lot of acquaintances and friends from all the world (America, Europe, Asia and Africa). With them I shared countless stories and laughs. We learn from each other our cultures and traditions. We heared and felt about our problems, hopes and all those feelings that accompany us on our journey as human beings. My exchange with them was basically based on sharing and respect .. a tale about basic human decency ..
My experience with the way that the decisions are taken by the people at the "management" side of the community .. it was another tale, but a tale where there was disrespect regards the value of our voices and opinions as a members of the community .. and this disrespect for me is clearly a behavior in the line with the lack of basic human decency. One day, without our consultation, in an arbitrary way, we were "sold" .. our community from being organized as a non-profit structure built with our sharing and money donations, became a for-profit organization, a B Corp I agree, but anyway a for-profit organization and nobody asked us if we want that .. at this moment I was involved with other people about this fact (the results of this involvement is another long tale worth of discuss in another thread!), and some of the points that I was arguing with them were:
I do not disagree with people trying to make money to have a decent life. In our society we all agreed (implicitly or explicitly) that money is our medium of exchange, so we need money to live. So, if the “management” is needing the money to maintain the site and to maintain themselves (assuming that they are spending all their working time to the site), for sure they should seek the honest alternatives to get that money. But, from my point of view, to the thing that the management haven't right is is to undertake the implementation of a solution in an arbitrary and nontransparent way. Because, although its true that they initially organized the site, the current success of the site isn't of them, but belongs to the volunteer work of all of us (without pay, as opposed to management), and through this volunteer work (which accounts for most of the work that makes the site successful), we all implicitly become site's shareholders. And as shareholders, we have the right to decide the fate of our community, i.e. be consulted when the management want to make a decision that affects our future
What has been happening these days in the community of Couchsurfing functions as a sort of replica of our wider environment, our society. We can see that bad things are constantly happening in our society, and what is worse, our society (we) passively accepts this things. When something bad happens, if we're lucky and the bad thing get some coverage, then a small storm of protests is formed. But, as in the short term, this bad thing does not affect the status quo of most of society, this initial storm of discontent is not going to be more than a small shower with no real consequences. I guess that the initial problem that produce this behavior is a mix of our conformist education, our lack of vision in the medium and long term, and of course our own personal comfort. People in general moves when reaches an extreme situation, but while they are thinking that their situation will improve or at least remain the same, it is really difficult to motivate them to action, although in the medium and long term this very lack of action likely will lead to a worse situation. The other problem of course is our lack of structures to organize and coordinate the response of the society in a way that promotes an effective action, while at the same time prevents the concentration of power that inevitably lead to abuse, as well as the apathy and loss of valid voices tired of the crying and fighting for power.
What was happening at Couchsurfing was clearly reflected in the following article: "A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency" .. where it is stating basically the same thing .. in the new economy that is arising (that could be named "cognitive capitalism"), the new business are being built with our social effort and values, with bits of our own lives the 24 hours a day .. with our pictures, thinking, comments, tags, friends and so on .. and we are not having voice about how all this value created by our effort is managed. Worst! we are not shapping how the incredible technology we have at hands (mostly arised from research paid with public money) is being used in the society .. the crude economic interests guided by short-term financial results is shapping its use.
So, I'm fully agree with the mindset framed by "mine become ours" .. but I want fair play .. I want a politic and economic context that is also framed by "mine become ours" .. not by "yours become mine" as that sadly permeates the economic forces dominating our current context .. for this reason I belong to Edgeryders and for this reason I'm inviting you to join, talk and act about these issues at the living together session ...