GALO: It makes me think of the Kony 2012 film (a public information/campaign video created by the NGO Invisible Children to draw attention to the crimes of Joseph Kony and his outfit, the Lord’s Resistance Army, which operates in East-Central Africa).

IM: Exactly, and Kony was very interesting because it broke a lot of rules of what people thought would be popular on the Web, particularly video. For instance, it’s long — 30 minutes, I think. And that was unheard of for a video because usually it’s like 30 seconds of a cat falling off a tree or something. And not only that, it was very explicit about what somebody could do. It said, this is what we’re going to do: X, Y, Z. On the one hand, it’s a very effective piece of media, the way it went viral. But at the same time, I think it’s really important for activists and media creators to also be aware that any of the content will be scrutinized by both people who like your message and people who don’t. In their particular case, people started looking into the organization and it started raising a few eyebrows.

GALO: There’s a longstanding tradition of media activism in the United States (Eugene Jarecki’s The Trials of Henry Kissinger about Kissinger’s record as Secretary of State, Charles Ferguson’s No End In Sight about the Iraq War, Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth about global warming, etc.). Are there any media activists who’ve inspired you?

IM: The most obvious one is Velcrow Ripper, who is the director of Occupy Love. After I finished One Week Job, I was looking around for another project to throw myself into. And I saw that Velcrow Ripper was actually starting the third film in his trilogy, which started with Scared Sacred, a film that came out in 2004, and then followed it up with Fierce Light, a film that came out in 2009. And I saw that he was moving on to the third film, which was originally called Evolved Love. I was quite excited about it because he captures a lot of what I’ve felt is really important for activism, which is this fusion of grounded spirituality.

I think a lot of activist circles and spiritual circles have come to understand that we’re at a time where, it’s not enough to be an activist in the street saying, “we don’t want this,” or “down with the machine and the corporations,” and things like that; but at the same time having no sense of your own inner life, the habits and patterns that you’re acting out, or what happened to you growing up, or as a result of the system itself. So, it’s necessary to have this grounding in spirituality and beingness. And this is why the film ultimately came to be called Occupy Love, because it fuses both — it fuses this idea of love and action as groundedness, as the core of all forms of spirituality. And then, to occupy, which is to actually get out there, to be on the street if need be, to take the actual steps necessary off your meditation cushion, whatever the case may be. So, Velcrow Ripper was somebody who saw this thread really early on. Actually, way back in 1999 is when he first conceived of this trilogy. And so, for me, he’s been an absolutely huge inspiration and it was amazing to be able to contact him and say, “Can I help out with this film?” Eventually, after enough e-mails, he brought me on board, and it wasn’t long after that before he pulled me on as a full producer. And that was back in 2010, so [it was] three years ago.

GALO: I’d like to talk a little bit about Sacred Economics. According to your site, the film is an attempt to “gift back” after reading Charles Eisenstein’s book, Sacred Economics. Could you give me the abridged version of Eisenstein’s message and why it appeals to you?

IM: Charles Eisenstein gave me a crucial link in trying to understand what’s going on today in the world — or why certain mechanisms continue to unfold and why it’s so hard to change certain paradigms. One of the things he says in his book and which I captured on film is: anytime you want to understand something (for instance, why are we continuing to drill in more extreme places for more oil, or why do we continue to dump insane amounts of plastic into the ocean), eventually, you get to money. And by money, what he means is the current structure of the economic system is biased toward certain outcomes. Because of the way that we place value and the way that the mechanisms of the system work, like interest-based currency and centralized currency and all these different types of things. As much as human nature wants to be one way, which if you look at a lot of personal decisions from a lot of people, we have this idea of maximizing self-interest — which is an economics term that has been around since the beginning, coincidentally, of the market era. And it’s become pervasive in our mainstream understanding of each other. At the end of the day, even though some of us want to do nice things, ultimately, we’re all, kind of, out for ourselves. Charles Eisenstein gave me this idea that humans have the capacity to be both. We have the capacity to be extremely generous, compassionate and loving. And in fact, it’s our nature to be those things.

Unfortunately, the current mechanisms of the economic system bias toward certain other behaviors, which is one way of saying the system rewards certain behaviors and not others. It’s no wonder, then, that we see certain behaviors in people and en masse that are ludicrous when you kind of step back and you start to say, “Why are things this way?” So, Charles gave me a big piece of the puzzle for me to understand what was going on, and for that, I felt a lot of gratitude.

And one of the things he talks about is this idea of the “gift economy” and “gift relationships,” which were actually how humanity operated for most of its existence on the planet. One of the ways you participate in the “gift economy” is, when you become indebted to someone, you gift back. And it doesn’t necessarily mean to that person per se, but you gift back to the cycle of giving. For me, to fly out to visit Charles and to produce the film that I did and to take his message out even further, was my way of giving back to the gift circle. From that offering, and you can see from the amount of views it has (I think it’s almost up to 300,000), I’ve had many e-mails from people who say, “Thank you so much.” It also altered their perception of how to create change in the world or why things were the way they were, and it catalyzed them to then continue to create change or to give back in their own way, and so it becomes this positive cycle of giving.

GALO: In The Revolution Is Love, Eisenstein says, “An economist says, ‘more for you is less for me.’” What would you say to an economist who argues that as the wealth of a society increases, the bottom is pulled up and even the worst-off experience improved conditions?

IM: There’s a bit of a nuance to that statement, which he also pointed out to me when I published it. He’s talking about the economics of scarcity. What he means is that the value assigned to a commodity within a system is dependent upon its scarcity. So, if something is ubiquitous or free, you can’t charge anything or you can charge very little for it. What he meant specifically was that using an interest-based currency only works if the amount of money within a system is less than the total amount of money that can be paid back. That’s what he was getting at specifically with that point, not general economic theory like, again, this rising tide will sell boats, and you didn’t say that specifically, but that’s also a suspect statement that I think a lot of economists make. I want it to be clear, if someone digs into the statement, what the context was. Essentially, it refers to debt. There’s more debt in the system than can be paid back at one time. In that sense, everybody is in competition for not enough money. That’s the other piece of that statement.

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