Something truly wonderful is happening. In the midst of this unprecedented global crisis, as the world slows and we retreat from our busyness, millions of us are glimpsing an extraordinary gift in all this: we have the opportunity of our lives to create a different world, not just reboot the old one.
There will be (already is) tremendous pressure to get back to “business as usual” as soon as possible. That will be difficult, perhaps impossible. But why not head in a different direction entirely? It’s not like the old system was working very well for the vast majority of us!
Here’s my perspective. I see two primary drivers in that old life that we could constructively change: fear and money. They sure are connected! Why not replace them with trust and generosity? And, why not start right now?
Even billionaires are afraid they might lose their massive wealth. 10 billion is not enough, imagine that! And down at the bottom of the pile, many of us live pay check to pay check as the saying goes, afraid that our fragile economic balance could be disrupted at any moment, hurling us into desperate measures, just to feed our families, pay utility bills, and cover rent or mortgage payments.
That disruption has happened. It will continue to happen. What will we do about it? I’d like to encourage you to consider a radical but imminently sensible option that’s already proven to be successful on a global scale.
The history of money is a classic study in revisionism. The fictional tale goes like this: Before money, people used to trade things but this got cumbersome. I needed your carrots but you didn’t need anything that I had. So, enter money. I could now pay you for the carrots. You could use that money to pay someone else for what you needed.
Sounds reasonable. Except that isn’t what really happened way back in the day. The first exchanges were voluntary and created an obligation that wasn’t measured. You gave me carrots. Period. I needed them. You had them. Generosity – which wasn’t even considered a “thing,” it was just the way we were with each other – meant that you voluntarily gave me what you had that I needed.
And how did I pay you back? The sense of obligation lingered. We both knew that I was obligated, indebted because of that one-way exchange. At some point, I would find a way to pay off that debt. I could give something to you, or gift someone else in the community. In some way, the obligation created by your gift to me was repaid. But no-one kept track.
Actually, we did. Morally. We “felt” the imbalance and corrected it… somehow, in some way. But nobody worried about it. This was just life in a trust-based community. Our communities were small enough that persistent imbalances would be noticed. A chronic “taker” who didn’t repay his obligations would stand out. He’d need to correct things because word would spread pretty quickly and he’d soon run out of people willing to “do business” with him. Necessity would eventually force him to get with the program, just to survive in his community.
Today we live in huge cities and reputations aren’t as easy to track. I know of one prominent businessman who has apparently stiffed service people for years. They provided his enterprises with paint and plumbing and electrical services, etc. He systematically failed to pay them the full amount that their signed contracts stipulated. Even that didn’t save him from going bankrupt, numerous times. But he hired attorneys to stay afloat. Now he’s … well, you probably know or have heard of someone like that. The guy I’m think of doesn’t seem very happy most of the time and his “friends” seem nervous he might turn on them the minute they don’t give him what he wants.
Trust. Generosity. How could we weave these two elements into a different way of exchanging with each other? Here’s a link to my plan, please check out what I’m doing about this. I hope it will inspire you to come up with something novel for yourself. Or use my system. It’s my gift to you, which creates an obligation in our Noon Club community, which means that… you get the idea.
Here’s the simple shift we can all make right now. We can shift our identity from a taker to a giver. We may believe we already are a giver and I expect most people on this list are. But how are we with money? Is our default setting the desire to get more and give less? Recall some recent negotiation. What guided you?
My wife and I recently bought a used gas stove from a stranger on Craigslist. His price was $300. We examined it and thought it was a fair price so that’s what we paid him. We didn’t try to bargain him down. It turned out that we didn’t need to stove so we resold it two weeks later. Our price was $300. The guy who bought it told us that he’d planned to bargain us down, which is the usual thing, but when he looked it over the price seemed fair to him so he volunteered full price.
We believe there was a connection between our attitude and his attitude. This was a fair exchange for all of us, three parties who participated in the kind of economy I’m envisioning.
But let’s go deeper. We have an opportunity to fundamentally change our relationship with money. Not with a new currency but with one we already have: energy. We can pour the energy of generosity through the money we give and receive. This re-creates money as a medium for the exchange of generosity, not as a value in and of itself.
I’m building a three-bin compost system right now. One neighbor offered me old 2 x 4’s, another had some ancient plywood. Gifts. Freely given. Creating an obligation I will surely repay. Like, when the phone rings and neighbor one asks if I can help him move some junk or when neighbor two wants to borrow a tool. We don’t keep track. Except we do, morally.
This is it, the opportunity of our lives to head in a different direction. Will you experiment? Remember, our prime time is noon every day when we pause from our busyness to give, energetically, with no strings attached. We transmit, we broadcast, entirely voluntary.
For those who add in the Love Casting, we bless specific individuals with our momentary intention. We don’t get paid for that. We don’t want to get anything. But, we will. We are creating an obligation in the universe and the universe will pay us back. Often in surprising ways!
Welcome to a new economy that we can use to build a better future! It’s so simple, I hope you experiment.