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Gilbert Ismail - Activism Expectations - Toronto Z-Day, 2014

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Hello! [Applause] I'm just going to talk like that, it's easier. So how are you all doing? Are you enjoying so far? [Applause] Well, since I haven't heard it said before today, I just want to take a moment and thank the Canada chapter, the Toronto chapter specifically, for organizing this event so if you will clap with me. [Applause] There’s going to be a lot of interesting talks today but let’s just take a moment. I'm very glad to be here. I've had to miss out on two main events due to my work, which at the moment I handle taxes in my city. Not a very zeitgeisty job I know but, you know, something has to be done. And I also have another job teaching dancing around the world. So, last time, the main event was in Vancouver, and I had to pick like “Am I going to Vancouver? or am I going to dance for two weeks in the Dominican Republic with fun in the sun and chicks?” [Laughter] So the choice was ... easy. Well for those of you that are not familiar with me my name is Gilbert. I coordinate the global chapters. And what does that mean? Well, I am kind of a back-end guy ... there's a few people from my group here, that do all the administrative work for the Zeitgeist Movement. We handle all the emails coming in, we check all the chapters, make sure they're doing well, so it’s a lot of boring background office job work, but you know, somebody's got to do it so we do it. [Applause] That’s not necessary but thank you anyway. Now I've been a member of the Zeitgeist Movement since it started and there was practically no organization done at all in that time, so I figured somebody's got to do it and I just stepped in and we got this thing going. First I was alone, doing a lot of emails, I think sometimes like 200 emails per day, which is crazy, 10-12 hours per day. I was a student so I could do it. But at some point ... yeah ... at some point it just changed and I didn't have that same time. So we expanded our team and, well, that's how everything got started in the back getting stuff organized. Well when we started, or when I discovered the Movement, I was like “Yes! I should join my local chapter!” And that was one crazy experience. I want to share with you because I signed up for the local chapter and I went there, and I had no idea what to expect. So, they had a meeting outside, I was sitting at a table, and I was so shocked by the diversity of people that were sitting there. There was one guy sitting at the table who thought that the world was run by little aliens! No, seriously! If that's your belief I don't mean to insult you but it was shocking for me at that point. Another guy was sitting at the table. It was like a helicopter that flew over, and he was watching it the whole time, so I was like “Dude what's up?” And he was like “They’re watching us!” No really, that happened! So there was quite a confusing experience to say, and then I signed up with the ... global site and got involved there. But okay, we're not here to talk about me today so let's get down to business. I've seen a lot of volunteers join the Movement, but I’ve also seen a lot of them leave. And, if I think about what makes them leave, in hindsight, it came down to expectations. They expected certain things of the Movement, and that didn't become a reality and that's why they left. Which is unfortunate because you can't really leave the Movement because it's a set of ideas, but on the other hand we need the people to make this ... train of thought a reality, because if we don't have people to explain to other people what the thoughts behind a natural law resource-based economy is, then we're not ever going to make an impact, right? That was difficult for me to deal with. Then I took a step back and I considered how do people become that person that they are in order to understand them better? Because as coordinators, as activists we need to understand the people that are in our group in order to make sure we facilitate or make or have the right facilities to make sure they can do their activism in the right way. So, I did a small evaluation; I want to share with you. So, here's where we start, right? We’re born ... in this world, fresh out the womb, born in sin. (That's what they say, right? I don’t know.) And then all sorts of stuff happens to us. Let’s have a quick look. So while we're growing up, we’re met with a lot of expectations. Expectations set by our family for example, by our direct social environment, by society in general. Like when you grow up, you get this story from your parents: you have to get a good degree, maybe you should become your own boss so you don't have to work- you don't have to do slave work for another boss, something like that. But at some point you also got to make certain decisions, and that’s what we’ll come to now. And I'll just call them lifeline choices. I don't know if that's a real word, I just made it up. But I think that describes what I'm trying to convey. So here’s a couple of stages we go through ... ... if that works ... there we go. So I just split it into three general stages because the first stage we reach is adolescence. That's where we start to think about what should I become, what do I want to do with my life? Then we have adulthood, in which we make more, well, heavier choices if you will. It’s actually not going ... ... that’s too fast ... I think my presentation went kaboom there! It doesn't matter, I can explain it like that. So in our adolescence we’re often limited by the household finances that we have or the personal finances, like what can I spend in order to become someone, or someone with a specific kind of job? - line of work. And either, if you're rich, you have a lot of possibilities or if there's a lot of schools in your neighborhood to go to, then you have a lot of opportunities to pick between a few. But often, and certainly in my personal experience, I didn't come from a rich family. I wear flashy shoes today but ... in the past it was not the same so, I had to make certain choices: do I want to go to this school or that school and that determines a lot of ... for a big part who you are going to become. (I'm sorry, English is not my first language ... sometimes I get stuck.) And then we reach adulthood which is a much more difficult period in time because you might have children, you might have met a significant other, and as an activist, that has a huge impact on what you can do. Because, if you have to bring your children to school every day, if you have a relationship that you want to sustain, that takes up a whole lot of your time. And I often have people coming to me for advice, since as global chapter administrator, people come to you with all sorts of problems, and they ask me like “Well the people in my group, we have 40 members in our chapter, but only two or three of them are doing actual work!” I say “Well yeah. that's understandable because people have their own lives, and they have to deal with that as well as they go, so don't be mad at them for not being there all the time. They dedicate whatever time they can, and this is a big part of that because they have to make sure that they take care of their own life first before getting into other sorts of activities. So at some point when these activists come and come across the information that they put out (and that's where the kaboom part comes in) is that their whole world crumbles in a sense because they've always been led to believe like: this is my life and I should live it is way, the world is going on forever and nothing ever changes so, it’s all good. And then they come across the information about the inherent flaws in the market-based economy and then now is the time for that slide - Kaboom! - everything just goes away and then they're very vulnerable to all sorts of information. And we should take real good care of the people that just came across the information like that, like the inherent flaws of the market economy, thoughts about- behind a natural resource-based economy. It’s not easy information to process or deal with. So, when people are in that stage, we have to be very considerate of what we say to them in order for them to fully grasp the idea and not get lost or confused. Okay it sounds very dramatic, but it’s really like that. I get emails from people all the time asking me “What should I study?” And I asked for advice [from] other Movement members, I said “Hey, I got this email, what should I reply back?” And people came with all sorts of suggestions like “You should tell them to study nanotechnology,” tell them to study this and this and this and this, and I said “No, we can't do that.” Because what we say is going to have a very big impact on somebody's life. My emails coming [from] [email protected] Movement.com. If I say that, they're going to think that this is from the Movement; they're telling me to do that. So I made an email, and I just want to hear you guys for a quick opinion. This is the email I formulated. I’ll just read it to you because I don't know if upstairs you guys can read it. So we just thank them for their email ... “So while it's heartwarming to hear that you want to follow an education that will help our cause, advocating the chain of thought behind a natural law resource-based economy, (... it’s a long line) we still live in a monetary system and for that reason I would recommend you study something that you feel is valuable to yourself, but also will enable you to survive in society as it still is today. If you lose your ability to participate in society, you may risk your own well-being and your own well-being should always be your first priority before being able to help anybody else." So that's what we did. [Applause] Anyway, when they pass that stage - when they actually decide to become an activist - we're going to deal with expectations that I talked about earlier. You never know what to expect from somebody's experience. I’ve dealt with situations in my own life but also as an activist, in the global chapters administration that made me chuckle more than once because sometimes you get across really funny situations, because everybody forms their own ideas. For some this movement is like a club they wish to join, but others see it as becoming a part of steering in a certain direction. I've even got an email from an individual and this is not a joke. I've got an email from an individual that asked me to put out on our global mailing list a message with his profile and a message (I don't know if I can read out to you but it was so fucking funny) (laughs) asking for a significant other in the Movement! No, really, he wanted me to put that out because he felt so, he felt like “I need to have an intelligent girl ...” I relate to it as a guy but ... that stuff happens. So, let's examine further. Through the years in the global chapters administration, broadly speaking, I've encountered the following types of individuals, with certain sets of expectations. Let's start with - and I don't mean this in any demeaning way but it really happens - the Whiner, the Realist, the Idealist, and you know, the Extremist. That's broadly speaking the four types of people that I’ve encountered. Let’s examine what they are, if this works ... . . . If I would define what the Whiner is, is somebody that joins the Movement but doesn't expect much out of anything. They're just there and sucking energy from you, and they’re always negative about anything that we do. Then we have the realist: somebody that realizes that what we do [is] we take one step at a time, and every step that we pass is okay. Then we move to the idealist, which is almost the same as the realist. The idealist has the same view, like one step at a time, but when we reach that step, they're always left with a feeling like, there needs to be more. They’re never content with what we ... actually achieve. And then you have the extremist: nothing is ever good enough, so they just want more and more and more and more. So, as a word of advice to people joining in chapters and coordinators and activists that receive those people into the chapters or welcome those chapters, a few words of advice are: You can't convince everyone of the benefits of a natural law resource-based economy. I’ve said this in 2011, I was in London as well at the ZDay event, but a big question everybody always has is “Well, I can't convince this person, what should I do next?” And my answer is really simple: "Nothing." Because you can't convince everybody. We've got seven and a half billion people on this planet. If you can't convince this person, say bye, and move on to the next person. It's okay. You don't have to convince everybody. Not everybody will also grasp what a natural law resource-based economy is and what the benefits are, and that's okay too. If you can only convey a part of the message, that’s sufficient. Also very important: have fun while doing activism, and take time for yourself, because a lot of people that I know - they were very active in the Movement in the beginning - burned out, because they were putting so much effort into it, and we can’t realize a resource-based economy overnight, and that ... impacts people in a way that they put so much energy in, they don't see a change, and then they go, which is a huge waste. Waste of talent, because there were a lot of talented people that I would have rather seen that they stayed. So lastly, just evaluating, what can we do to manage expectations better? How can we ensure that people, when they just join the Movement or join a chapter, understand what to expect. And this is especially for the coordinators out there, just a few points that we should review. Plan short-term goals instead of long-term goals because if you promise them a tomorrow of a resource-based economy, people are going to expect that. Rather explain that we have to take everything one step at a time. Set certain goals, plan an event, work towards that event, and when you've reached it, they'll feel like “Okay, we've accomplished something.” If you just do empty activism, like you're just talking about a natural law resource-based economy and we never get there, it will be hard for them to understand that what they're doing has an impact on people. And it does. Everything we do, everything we put out, has an impact on somebody, so that's something to consider. The short term goals are sometimes more effective. (Don't bust on me.) Is there anybody here from Vancouver? Two? Really? Only two, three? Okay well, in Vancouver we have a member called Cliff Faber. He's also the national coordinator for Canada, and he always shares this story with me that how he thinks that a chapter should rather have a core group of people instead of being a club of 60 people. And a core group can be four or five people, but they actually work together more efficiently than when the group is big. So, if you start a chapter, if you are willing to start a chapter, you don't have to gather a whole fan club of people. Just a few people to work with is enough, and you can get a lot of stuff done. Miguel - who is over there, he'll be on stage in a minute - Miguel always says and has researched that a group of more than eight people tends to fall apart very quickly. So if you have less than that you're more likely to accomplish something. Keep that in mind. Work with small core groups. It’s better than just having a movie fan club. (There we go.) Also remember that we're trying to educate our local community. We're not taking over the world right now. I was that ambitious! Like, when I saw the Movement growing, it had a big spike, you know? I was like “Yes! We’ll have the world by next year,” but obviously that didn't happen. [Laughter] Maybe someday ... but that's okay. I mean, our whole purpose is to educate everybody in our direct social environment in order for them to understand all the ideas that we're putting out. So that's okay. That's something for the coordinators to also make clear to all the people coming into your chapter. And last - my last point of a very brief talk - If I were to explain what we're doing to other activists or coordinators, I would say that we’re not-... Consider the world as a garden, okay? We're not trying for a complete garden makeover, we’re rather planting seeds. Seeds that will grow later, if you water them enough. (it’s a joke) if we keep care of it, if we take care of it and we do it the right way, maybe, maybe in time, these seeds will grow into a new world. And that's what we can accomplish. So, thank you very much for being here today. [Applause] I would like to call to stage Jorge Forero and Miguel Oliveira. Jorge Forero from the Linguistics team, the people that translate everything that we put out, so give him a good applause. [Applause] And Miguel Oliveira, also a very hard-working background guy, manages several web sites for the Movement, and sometimes he's awake for 20 hours per day so ... go ahead. [Applause] Hi, how are you? My name is Jorge, difficult to pronounce. Um ... (Speaking in Spanish) I want to start ... can people lift their hands if they understand me when we speak in... the Movement about. [Gilbert] Just say Si! [Audience] Si! Si! That's the point. [Laughter] Maybe you still don't understand me because of my accent, but the point is we are a global movement. We work locally, but we need to translate our job. In the Linguistic Team we have maybe 30 established teams of people working in 30 different languages. Most of the teams are one or two people, trying to translate all our materials, right? It is very difficult. But, our big problem is in the English language, because every video that goes out has to be transcribed, proofread, in order to be ready to open it for the language people, the different languages. We’re still crossing the fingers waiting for the first Swahili team, and we’re waiting for him. Thank you very much. [Applause] So I just wanted to make a call out to members in the Movement, members that have more experience and even coordinators who run local chapters. As you might imagine the Movement grew very fast and we’re starting to notice a difference between chapters that are really strong and well developed, and chapters that are starting to develop now and not so good at it. And a bit of the focus of the GCA is trying to get that experience from stuff that worked, and from successful chapters, and bring it over to chapters that might be starting out in Africa or Asia. But we have a big need for volunteers, because as we all know we all have to - of course our personal lives - we need to work. So I just wanted to put the call out there. Like if you’re a coordinator, and if you don't mind spending six hours per week, we’ll be glad to take you in the team and just send a few tasks over to your way, so you can help out in growing. Thank you. [Applause] Alright guys, thank you very much, so just a last note, if you want to get in contact with us, send an email to [email protected], or if you have a different question not related to chapters, but if you have an idea for a project or something, something that we can facilitate, you can also email me personally at [email protected] Have fun today, and- do you guys know there's an after-party? There is! (laughs) Gilbert Ismail Global Chapter Administration Team Activism in the Zeitgeist Movement

Video Details

Duration: 24 minutes and 3 seconds
Year: 2014
Country: Canada
Language: English
Producer: The Zeitgeist Movement
Director: The Zeitgeist Movement
Views: 53
Posted by: ltiofficial on Jun 1, 2015

Gilbert Ismail, Global Chapters Administrator for TZM, talks about recognizing and managing expectations associated with being in the movement. Special appearance at the end by Jorge & Miguel, promoting LTI and GCA respectively.

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