So many of us are longing for community, to live more aligned with our natural impulse to express our gifts, to give and receive freely. Often what seems to slow that flow or even send us in the opposite direction comes down to money and the assumptions of the particular economic system we are in. I’m inspired again by Charles Eisenstein’s “Sacred Economics” and his exploration of how community and money systems interact. All quotes below are from this short video of his key concepts…
Scarcity and competition is built into our money system
“Money is an agreement. It doesn’t have value all by itself has value because people agree that it has value. Scarcity is built into the money system. On a most obvious level it’s because of the way money is created as interest bearing debt. Anytime a bank lends money into existence, or the Federal Reserve creates money, money comes along with a corresponding amount of debt. The debt, because there’s interest on it, is always greater than the amount of money, so it essentially throws people into competition with each other for never enough money.”
“Economic growth means that you have to find something that was once nature and make it into a good, or was once a gift relationship and make it into a service. You have to find something that people once got for free, or did for themselves or for each other, and then take it away and sell it back to them somehow.”
Gratitude and giving are natural responses
“We didn’t earn any of the things that really keep us alive, or that make life good. We didn’t earn air. We didn’t earn being born. We didn’t earn our conception. We didn’t earn being able to breathe. We didn’t earn having a planet that can provide food. We didn’t earn the sun.”
“On some level, people have this inborn gratitude, because on some level, we know that we didn’t earn anything, so we know that life is a gift. If you know that you’ve received a gift, then the natural response is gratitude, the desire to give in turn.”
“In a gift economy, it’s not true in the way it is in our money economy, that everybody’s in competition with everybody else. In a gift society if you have more than you need, you give it to somebody who needs it. That’s how you get status, and that’s even where security comes from. Because if you build up all that gratitude then people are going to take care of you too.”
Our money system is a barrier to community and a more beautiful world
“If there are no gifts, then there’s no community. We can see as societies become more monetised, communities disappear. People long for it, but you can’t just have community as an add on to a monetised life, you have to actually need each other.”
“People desire to enact their gifts, and if they were free from money, they would do it. But money is so often a barrier you know people think oh, I love to do this. But can I afford to do it? Is it practical? Money stops them.”
“What beautiful thing would I do? What am I called to do? Would it be to set up big gardens for homeless people to take care of reconnect nature? Would it be to clean up a toxic waste site? What would you do? What beautiful thing would you do? And why is it impractical to do these things? Why isn’t there money in those things?”
There are alternatives, we know what to do!
“An economy that embodies the principles of gift is an economy that is simply grounded in the truth. The task before us is to align money with the true expression of our gifts, and requires a very different mechanism for the creation of money and the circulation of money.”
Remembering this, I keep asking myself, where can i/we make a different choice, to tap into natural gratitude and giving, to reduce participation in the current money system? Running a business or organisation, offering and using services, working to change systems, owning a house, building resilient communities, all this as well as what products we buy and how we eat have potential for reconnecting with more natural flow.
So many people are already doing this with amazing creativity, and yet it is so easy to be pulled back and feel like there is little choice. If we want the kind of community and more satisfying way of life that our hearts pull us to, we have to keep remembering that the system that we are currently in is a choice, and not a fundamental rule of life.
See through the story. Reconnect. Create a more beautiful world. Over and over.
To find out more and hear about ways this is already being done, watch the full video here.