Changing the Nature of Life by Changing the Ways we Use Money.
The current economic system is completely unhealthy for human beings and the rest of life on Earth – spiritually, physically, and practically. Humans are not living up to their fullest humanity, and the environment is being destroyed, and we know it. But what is the problem with the existing system – we can’t ditch it “just like that” and we can’t fight it – we have to figure out what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and what to do about it to make things better for all humans living on this planet. To do that, we must use our minds to hack culture, to get to the bottom of why we have designed this system over the years to secure our future resources and have come full-circle to a world that is utterly insecure with dwindling resources. How did we go wrong, what are the logical fallacies in the original argument of the social contract we supposedly entered into at birth and how do we reverse them by design?
My Auntie told me years ago that I needed to begin thinking about money as a form of frozen energy. Whatever else we tell ourselves about the systems involved in its creations and transactions and history, it amounts to an investment of energy, whether natural, human, mechanical or chemical, or time and space themselves, into an agreed upon form that can be counted, traded and transacted with others. This was at a time when I was just beginning to come to grips with my mortality as a human, as the need for involvement in the world around me, and I with it, became more necessary, around the age many go through this transition, emancipation at the age of eighteen or nineteen.
For many people that age, at present, money is a demon we avoid or question for obvious reasons. At the time my primary thought about money was that it was the bastion of old white men, and the weapon of the system that as far as I could see was enslaving my parents, friends, government, the Earth and all her natural resources with debt and endless repayment of that imaginary debt with work. As far as I can still see, this system as it stands, even if it is based in energy, is still biased in the favor of those who designed it, the money counters, the bankers and merchants that have the most to gain and lose from their part in the design. As I have come to realize, however, we can change the nature of this mostly virtual system organically, by virally implanting within it the ideas that will change how that energy-money is used, how it is delivered to and among the people and for what purposes.
Instead of a financial system that works on consolidating money-energy-power into the hands of the very few who hold most of the capital and influence over how things are run (where resources are allocated and for what purposes), we could develop a system that distributes the power to make healthy decisions with our currency to the rapidly-self-informing population. We could begin to influence people culturally, in discussions, social media and businesses that do care, on the ground level and from the grass roots, of the practical need to adopt spending, living and thinking patterns that encourage greater health for the individual and the planet – which beget even more wholesome decisions. This would put pressure on the policy makers to meet this emergent demand and provide products and services that genuinely meet consumers’ expectations of more conscious corporations and governments. In many ways, this is already occurring. A good example of this happening is CEO’s, religious leaders and government officials emerging in harmony with the consensus about climate change, humanity’s involvement with the creation of the problem and our responsibility to help fix it by changing our ways. If this is done, and if the common people are allowed into the circle of knowledge of how these systems actually work, this unnatural consolidation of power that we have witnessed for so long will naturally dissolve to the cloud.
On that note, on cloud thinking and internet connectedness mindset, it has revealed itself to me gradually that these systems are only so opaque or as transparent as we make them to be; they are either a stone monolith facade, unchanging and sterile, or they can be a dynamic shifting tapestry of color to reflect all the variety of human life and imagination. With the internet, technologies have emerged to crowdfund the goals and dreams of every human that can dream big and organize people around it, literally in their own creators’ words “remove the gatekeeper from capital”. We are hopefully opening up to an economic future more like that of gene Roddenberry’s original Star Trek, where the focus of the economy has less to do with amassing imaginary numbers and more to do with facilitating the lives, goals and highest dreams of human achievement. We need an economy more like that which had been imagined by Jacques Fresco, movement and allocation of goods and services based in the availability and sustainability of resources themselves, and not numbers that are virtual representations of those resources. By the course of evolution, provided the old power structures don’t try to manipulate the stream of information on the new cultural battlefield of the internet through censorship and social media opinion manipulation, and of course television and mainstream news, humans will teach themselves to replace our replicate the seemingly complicated systems we feel controlled and dominated by, and take the power back across the board. More like, they will re-inherit their heritage and step into ownership of the power that was always there anyway.
By changing the focus of the drive of society away from the participation in an artificial system to participation in human and biological life itself, we can change the nature of life itself. The first question that comes to many peoples’ minds, however, has to do with productivity – what will people do to “earn a living” when there is no economic drive to accumulate greater wealth as a reward for work? Let’s look at that phrase for a second, “earn a living”… we more than often take this one for granted, however it basically says it all in a nutshell – we earn dollars and cents in a virtual environment as a way of “paying for our place” (literally and figuratively) on this planet. The question should be more like “how will you live” – well, as far as that goes, easily. As it turns out, as Bucky Fuller elucidated if you took all the farming equipment and production resources, the things that make our lives actually work, and dumped them into the ocean, people would be starving across the globe in weeks. At the same time, if you took all the politicians, financiers and other existing policymakers and shot them to the moon, things would not only survive, they’d probably rapidly improve. Unbeknown to many, the human brain has mirror neurons whose sole purpose is to reflect the conditions of others – and bring us to act to help them. There is a whole nerve complex called the vagus nerve whose service seems to be a sympathetic reaction to others, modifying the heart and mind’s actual state accordingly. Studies have shown that the stress caused by lack of ability to fully feel that sympathy – such as that reinforced by a financially-obsessed culture to dismiss the homeless and forgotten of our world – can cause this nerve to stop functioning altogether, causing serious problems for the heart, mind and body. What are we supposed to learn from these discoveries in actual biology and neuroscience, except that the current economic and political paradigm and mode of thinking is straight wrong and that humans are actually, by nature, altruistic beings that will arrange themselves to service of others in a pinch.
When Hurricane Sandy came through the Eastern seaboard, destroying towns and lives, and leaving many New Yorkers without food, power, or basic needs, and when FEMA was more intent on marching soldiers through Manhattan as a way of showing “order is still here”, a phenomenon utterly impressed those who were paying attention. An impromptu grassroots movement called Occupy Sandy Relief, having nothing to do with the original Occupy movement except in name and premise (taking up the space where there is a need), filled the needs of millions of New York and New Jersey citizens where the government and Red Cross utterly failed. Guess who got most of the credit for “saving” New York?
Examples like these are why we should keep faith alive that despite all the brutal history of Humanity in recent centuries and decades, there is still this undercurrent of human beings who still genuinely feel a need to do the right thing. Biologically, they are not feral beasts which need to be herded and corralled for their own good. They are independently-thinking beings that are capable of great good when given the opportunity, and those rotten parts of “human nature” are the result part-in-parcel of a reaction to the existing system where individual humans feel powerless, left-behind, and so righteously question the authority of such an openly sociopathic society.
So, to answer the basic question of how, then, humans will “make a living” after we remove the pressure of amassing money in order to just survive, is that humans will just simply “live”. We have no context for this with few exceptions, such as the country of Bhutan where they measure gross domestic happiness instead of GDP, or among the more enlightened Native American confederations. It seems utterly alien to consider a world where getting more than your neighbor, whether it be diamonds, cash, cars or space, would be replaced by sharing with your neighbor if and when they are in need. Of course people will continue to have needs for basic goods and services, but provided they will be OK (they have shelter, food, love, entertainment, warmth, energy, and a decent quality of life) then the joy and drive to fill those needs for each other, according to the highest dreams of the individual as far as why they feel like they have come to this Planet, should be enough to keep them working for other humans. And then, honestly, we will also have robots. If we develop a resource-based economy that respects the sustainability of those resources, whether human or natural, we could still have humans doing what they will or what they can and being the most them that they can be, and drudgery tasks honestly should be given to machines that will repeat them faithfully, as machines are wont to do. That doesn’t mean that they will “replace” humans or “take their jobs”, or make it so that humans are utterly helpless and unable to do things. Quite the contrary, humans would be freed to do those things they really desperately want to do but were too busy spending all their actual most valuable resource, time, in trade for artificial dollars. There are still plenty of things for humans to do, like inventing new ways to reach the stars, or going about restoring the ecosystem we have destroyed, or making vivid artworks, murals, gardens and living spaces that feed our souls and drive our enlightenment upward. What I am basically proposing here is not to let machines replace humans, but to make them replace robotic tasks which humans have been doing where they honestly have no place. Humans were never meant to slave away in factories, that is an unnatural state of affairs that we have been told is true and natural by an educational system that was written by those same policy makers, government manipulators and bank owners, or more like the descendants of their descendants, at the foundation of the Industrial “revolution”. In fact, the word “robot” was not made to describe machines, but as an artful way to describe humans which were being treated like machines in the modern Assembly Line culture.
If we can get to the root of the systems that make our economy run, we can discover how we as individual humans can change our spending and investing patterns, making a new economy based on human and natural resources and freeing people to live the lives they arrived here to live. It will take some time to make this shift, for many indeed to recognize the need for one; as it is difficult to ask the fish to identify the water in which it swims. It is not only possible, however, but highly probable, necessary, and possibly even inevitable that this change will happen.