Thursday, October 22, 2009

When Cash is No Longer King

While half of those watching the world of finance is waiting for the other shoe to drop and the other half celebrating the mainstream news that the economy is bouncing back, I have been looking at new paradigms in creating an economically sustainable future. Whether it all comes unraveled by mid-November, as some of our insiders have been telling us, or not, we have a frighteningly bloated and decaying beast we’ve been feasting on in the west - a credit based (debt based) economy. And it’s beginning to decompose to the extent that there is barely any flesh left on it’s bones.

Three days ago I heard an NPR business report that mentioned Harley Davidson’s profits were down 83% in the third quarter. In response, the luxury motorcycle manufacturer was quickly developing new markets, including major cities in the Middle East. The reporter interviewed an Arab woman who says she is excited to be on the back of her husband’s bike. It evoked some interesting, though likely inaccurate, visuals in my mind. But soon my logic took over. No more Harleys for middle aged white lawyers and dentists meant that they could no longer secure credit. Oops. If these guys aren’t being given credit, what’s happening to the rest of us? Yes, I know, that’s a rhetorical question.

This set me on a different line of inquiry. I have a very distinct Utopian side to my belief system, in so much as I believe a more Utopian society is possible. These flames were fanned over the last two days as I attended the Praxis Economics of Peace Conference in Sonoma, California.

Among the issues I was intrigued with were Cashless Exchange and Time Banking - both of which I feel we need to seriously consider within our own communities. As I was interviewing Tom Greco, an author on cashless systems, I referred to his book as End of Money: Beginning of Civilization. He laughed and said “I like that, maybe that is what I should have called the book! It’s fair to say that what we have been doing is anything BUT civilized!” In truth, the name of his book was End of Money: Future of Civilization, but the profundity of my mistake was not lost on either of us.

The stark truth is that the one factor that keeps most human beings at the bottom tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a scarcity of money in our lives. This lack keeps us in fear and working simply for our survival. This is not what it means to be human. We are innately creative beings with a need to express beauty, kindness, generosity and love, only we’re too tired to do it most of the time. But what happens if money goes away, at least money as we know it?

The brilliant and brave people lecturing at this conference have put forth that we have a choice in this matter. We simply have to commit some of our time and creativity and we can begin building the foundations of peaceful and abundant communities in which every one of us who is capable can use our talents, skills and passions to contribute to the whole in such a way that we rebuild sustainable communities rich in diversity of self expression and activities. After all, since when have most of us directly supported the work of poets, artists, bards and philosophers? Yet, how much richer would their work make the community if it were equally honored alongside the grocer, doctor and dentist?

The issue of reclaiming our humanity, creativity and civility is of great importance at a time when we are attempting to reach into finer vibrational realms as a species. Because of this, we (CMN) are going to be focusing on alternatives to this credit/debt based nightmare economy that has reduced billions of earth’s people to rats on a treadmill. For the next several months we will be featuring pioneers in the world of sustainable and Local Living Economies. You will find great comfort, inspiration and energy in their experiences, which may well lead each of us to engage in our own community economies in a new and peaceful way.

After all, Ghandi was about non-cooperation. We don’t have to buy cheap imports. We don’t have to eat toxic food. We don’t have to watch, read nor listen to bad media. We don’t have to use credit, nor bank with entites who care nothing about us. We ARE going to have to get off our butts and start making clear choices as to how we want to experience our future.

Wouldn’t you prefer to be doing the things you love and working only a few hours a week, as Mr. Greco suggests is a very real potential scenario, in a balanced and sustainable economy where Cash is no longer king?