In the 1970’s through The Committee for the Future my partner Lieutenant Colonel John J. Whiteside and I co-produced 25 SYNCON conferences for Synergistic Convergence. The process was an early, embryonic contribution to a more synergistic democracy.
Recently, the Foundation for Conscious Evolution has been invited by Kelly Parker, founder of the Foundation for the Evolution of America in Washington DC, to collaborate in offering the SYNCON process throughout the United States as a way to overcome the polarization among our people and to cultivate societal synergy, cooperation and cocreativity. Also, Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and activist, has asked us to collaborate with her on a Santa Barbara SYNCON on the theme: How to make of Santa Barbara a Model of a Sustainable Community.
What was the SYNCON PROCESS?
The word SYNCON stands for SYNergistic CONvergence. The purpose of SYNCON was to bring together conflicting groups and individuals to identify common goals and to match needs and resources, in light of the broadest horizon of choices and the new potentials of humanity at the growing edge of the sciences and psychologies.
SYNCON took place in wheel shaped environments often built in university gymnasiums or similar large venues. The very structure symbolized synergy and the whole, rather than domination, division, and separation. The circular configuration of the Wheel was then divided into pie-like slices, each representing basic social functions such as Environment, Health, Economics, Social Needs, Education, Governance. (The sectors changed according to the purpose and community in which the SYNCON occurred.)
At the Growing Edge of the Wheel were taskforces in biological science, physical science, space sciences, communications, and the psychologies of growth. Surrounding the whole system, symbolically, were the Arts. Poets, playwrights, and artists of all kinds were invited to assist people in seeing their struggle as a whole.
At the center of the SYNCON Wheel was a Coordinating Hub whose function was to help match needs and resources. Coordinators were there to serve the synergy among the parts. Facilitators helped every sector to discuss their goals, needs, and resources. We tried to have at least one ‘expert’ in every sector, simply to give the basic facts of the situation.
People of all positions were invited into the SYNCON Wheel with the question: “Is there a better way for you to achieve your goals than the way you are now using?”
Everyone entered as an individual, not as a representative of some organization. Task forces formed around functions, not issues, and all basic functions of the community were included. The participants included the widest possible diversity of people in the community; the arts were used as an integral part of the process to see ourselves as a whole; and the SYNCON became a microcosm of that whole.
Each task force would first seek common goals. What do you need to achieve those goals? What resources do you have to offer others?
There were visits and emissaries from various sectors. Then, corollary, but conflicting functional areas merged, such as business and environment, widening the search for common goals and matching needs and resources.
The growing edge task forces communicated the remarkable new potentials now available – new energies, new resources, new possibilities for health, education, communication, etc. It was soon seen that when we apply our new capacities combined with synergistic process, there were new solutions to every problem people were facing.
A SYNCON media was designed to pick new agreements and creative suggestions. Every evening we played back the New News. We called it the New Worlds Evening News in which participants saw themselves as newsmakers. We used local media to broadcast and invite call-ins.
Positive images of the future emerged naturally, based on real possibilities. Genius at the growing edge was grateful to be included, as were the people who had been left out of the current economic system.
What’s more, the excitement generated by the new connections was compelling. New leadership emerged capable of large-scale cooperation, rather than opposition. Old stereotypes faded, and people made friendships of the most unexpected kind. Evolution not revolution became the keynote.
At the Gang Leaders SYNCON in Los Angeles, when the mass media attempted to come and draw individuals off, one young black leader shouted at the media: “No, we won’t let you do it to us this time. We won’t let you show what’s wrong with us.” They banished the giant camera, while the NWEN hand held cameras recorded the scene for the New Worlds Evening News.
We had a Council on High Priority Needs in which people who were left out, angry, or hurt came and were asked to state their message on video. We then coached them to communicate more effectively and sent them back into the Wheel.
Eventually all walls were removed with music and ceremony, and the whole system reassembled after many interactions.
Invariably, unexpected synergies were discovered. Some people had needs, others had resources. The dynamics changed from oppositional leadership to leadership in cooperation and connectivity. Synergy provides the extra energy that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. It overcomes scarcity through creativity and connectivity.
There was also a mysterious element to the SYNCONS. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell said that if we had had a spiritual Geiger counter, it would have gone “off the charts.” The coming together of separate and antagonistic people in a new whole, where each felt they were receiving more of what they wanted than before, created what was experienced as a new form of “social love.” Perhaps that is what synergy really means at the human level.
The root of the word religion is religare, to bind back and make whole. Without mentioning the word religion, participants found themselves being drawn together by a spiritual force that overcame their sense of separation from each other. The same invisible universal power that connects atom with atom and cell with cell, that weaves together the spiral galaxies, that births new stars by the billions and nurtures the fabulous ecologies of planet Earth, was at work. The walls were taken down and Spirit did the work.
Mayor Yorty said there should be a SYNCON in front of every City Hall in the country, so that special interests would have to learn to cooperate with each other before they could get to the mayor. In fact, every government official who attended a SYNCON said that they needed a synergistic process to be able to govern more effectively. SYNCON is not about power but about light, communication, and a genuine realization of the common goals of any social system.
At a Washington D.C. SYNCON in a hotel ballroom, Orville Freeman, former Secretary of Agriculture and head of Business International, said this process does not belong in a hotel room. It is time for national and global SYNCONs.
Laizar Moisov, then ambassador from Yugoslavia to the United Nations and head of the Security Council, said he felt the United Nations should be restructured along the lines of synergetic convergences.
In 1975 the Committee for the Future did a final Bicentennial SYNCON with Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, with people calling in from all over the country sharing their goals, needs and resources. A large chart of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs was utilized: Basic, Growth, and Transcendent Needs, and each level were filled in based upon the calls received.
It is clear that we have come to the end of the era of polarization. We are ready for a quantum jump toward synergy. Synergy does not mean everyone agrees with each other. It does not mean the blending of different ideologies. It means joining together to further the goals of each of us. It is a new form of enlightened self-interest. From an evolutionary point of view, it is a vital element in the natural next step for our species.
The SYNCONs experimented with a rudimentary embryonic process for a more cooperative or synergistic democracy. We believe that the time is right to review, modernize, and adapt this process to serve the next phase of the evolution of democracy.
Our objective now
Our objective is to take the SYNCON model created and utilized in the 1970s and marry it with the amazing technologies currently available. We envision participation by large numbers of stakeholders in communities across the country, determining and matching needs and resources in each community, generating maximum benefit for all the citizens of that community.
Each SYNCON event would be invited to identify “stewards” for every sector of the Wheel. These individuals would communicate into an updated on-line SYNCON Communication System (previously called the Peace Room or Synergy Center ) the information generated by that SYNCON, along with projects that are working in that community. In this way each SYNCON would be of benefit to all other SYNCONs.
Eventually our vision is that involved citizens might be able to develop a platform for a positive future based on what the American people want to create, that could be offered to candidates at various levels from all parties, thus launching an evolutionary political movement that is neither left nor right, but forward, upward and whole.
As we begin this initiative, we also hope that the SYNCON and the Peace Room processes will be useful for passing legislation for a Department of Peace, advocated by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and others, sorely needed as a focus to connect and align our burgeoning initiatives in this direction. To a Department of Peace, these processes then offer the vision and tools of "peace through cocreation", encouraging individual and collective creativity in environments that value wholeness, cooperation, and synergy. In such contexts it is possible to BE the change we wish to see in the world, to work together consciously to evolve, and to manifest true peace, prosperity, and justice.
The time for social synergy is here!