The Best Conversation About Capitalism Happened In Prison

Heidi Benyounes Wires FB
Photo: Heidi Benyounes on Unsplash

This week I went to prison. My mission: meet a transgender woman incarcerated for who-knows-what. A friend suggested I meet her. My intuition told me I must.

This person, I’ll call her Joy, turned out perfect for The Transamorous Network, my show and podcast serving the trans community.  But that wasn’t all. The entire trip left me inspired. It also changed me in ways few experiences have.

Prison being what it was, only one opportunity allowed meeting Joy: an inmate support group. I knew nothing about the group.

Frankly, I was nervous. I had never been inside a prison before…

I did have preconceived notions though. Notions about the place and the people in it. Preconceptions about the people who worked there too. I wore those preconceptions on my sleeve. I admitted as much to my escort, the person who ran the group. She said she felt the same way her first time.

By the end of my time “inside” all my preconceptions proved wrong. For one, Joy was just that. A joy. Not only were her stories perfect. Her personality too was perfect. Her interview is going to be spectacular. We’re coordinating the details now.

Getting into prison when you don’t belong there is a major paperwork exercise. (Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash)

The other thing that destroyed my preconceptions was what happened next. And what happened after that.

In the group, my escort had us introduce ourselves. I was near the circle’s end. So I benefitted from hearing what others said.

What they said was surprising. Each person talked about their experience in extraordinary language. Language I’m familiar with. In so many words, they all described how they are creating their reality – yes, even their time in prison – through thoughts and beliefs they think and believe.

I was not expecting that.

They each shared “insights” they got from this group. Each man used the same phrase describing their personal experiences. They called them “peeling away layers of an onion”.

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What was going on here? Had I landed in a segment of Dhamma Brothers, a startling documentary about bringing Vipassana meditation to some of America’s harshest prisons? Or was someone punking me?

If they were, they were going through a lot of trouble…

Listening to these men talk, I kept asking myself, what was this group? And what is it turning these “criminals” into thoughtful, introspective, inspiring human beings?

This video will give you a sense of what I stumbled into.

As the meeting’s end neared, the sharing petered out. That’s when one inmate said something I wasn’t expecting. It was icing on an already well-baked cake.

“I am dying to hear about this new economic system,” he said.

In my introduction, I told the group about leaving Intel Corporation and discovering my passions. Uplifting others, helping inspire members of the transgender community, and promoting a better way to run the planet’s economics is what I do today.

I had not expected this group would ask about Copiosis. When he said what he said, all eyes turned to me.

He wasn’t the only one eager to know.

“Go ahead,” my escort said. “Tell us. I’m dying to know too!”

Me stammering through my explanation of Copiosis. Then being amazed as the men and women tell me how well it will work.

What happened next was one of the most inspiring, fulfilling conversations about Copiosis I’ve ever had.

After a brief description how Copiosis works, the group members were telling me how the system would work under various scenarios. How the transition could happen (their ideas were accurate). How raw materials and supplies used to make things would be given to people making things (at no cost to anyone). How everyone on the planet could get their food, clothing, shelter, all their education, and all their healthcare at no cost to anyone…with no one footing the bill for those things. And how all that could transform life on Earth.

One guy didn’t get it. He dreams of becoming a rancher. He couldn’t understand how anyone would give him cows for free to ranch. The others tried explaining, but he couldn’t put it together in his head.

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I’ve talked with conservative northern Californians. With liberal Oregonians. With very conservative people online. I’ve talked to the “choir” – people who already understand capitalism doesn’t work. I’ve talked with economists, family, friends.

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In all those conversations, I’ve never had a group of people “get” Copiosis so fast. I wonder if it was because of their group work. When a person reconnects to the core of who they are, they access wisdom lying beneath how they were raised.

That wisdom aligns with Copiosis’ fundamentals. Fundamentals which say it’s easy to do away with money. It’s easy to evolve capitalism into something that works for everyone. Where there is no debt and where everyone is honestly and totally free.

One guy raised an objection I had never heard before. It was brilliant. He asked why drug cartels wouldn’t destroy implementation by flooding the Copiosis economy with free drugs. The next moment, he answered his own question. His answer mirrored his experience peeling away layers of his own mental onion:

“People thinking differently make different choices,” he said. “Besides, there’s no money in drugs in your idea.”

Another said: “If everyone had all their food, healthcare, education and housing, why would they want to do drugs?”

I sat astounded.

Ironically, the only thing keeping people (especially Americans) not-free is the same thing these inmates have peeled away. Like peeling an onion, they have removed layer after layer of externally-derived beliefs. Beliefs formed in “the outside”. Or should I call it the “inside”…aka the capitalist world. Beliefs that make the world seem like a competitive, hostile place. A place where people feel no choice but to do what they must. Sometimes that lands them in prison.

These men (and two women) no longer have that burden.

What I heard in their words is what’s possible when humanity is freed from capitalism’s belief systems. A flowering of spirit resonating between and among any group of humans. A spirit that says the world is abundant. That I’m ok no matter what. That there is plenty to share. And there is no reason every single person can’t live lives of wealth and prosperity.

No reason other than beliefs humans hold. Beliefs like “captialism is the best economic system out there”.

It’s not. There’s a better one.

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