Friday, November 21, 2008
It's cool by the Pool - right? [COLUMN]
This is the 9470th post on this blog. Will it make any difference? Is there a point to this internet jibber jabber, or do I take didactic pleasure in hearing my fingers do the typing.
I was watching Ster Trek recently. It's set in the far future. Around 4 centuries from now. In that construct there is no money. Star Fleet is the authority in this time, their mandate seems to be peaceful exploration in the search of sentient life. The people in this time are motivated by 'betterment', to 'better themselves'. This naturally involves exploring other world's, finding out more about ourselves and other technologies.
In our world our mandate is based on greed isn't it? And greed is good. Supposed to be? Well think about it. If everyone is greedy, what is the result?
Gordon Gekko: Ever wonder why fund managers can't beat the S&P 500? 'Cause they're sheep, and sheep get slaughtered.
Gordon Gekko: The most valuable commodity I know of is information.
Gordon Gekko: Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Carl Fox: "I came into Egypt a Pharoah who did not know."
Gordon Gekko: I beg your pardon, is that a proverb.
Carl Fox: No, a prophecy. The rich been doing it to the poor since the beginning of time. The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is the Egyptians didn't allow unions. I know what this guy is all about, greed. He don't give a damn about Bluestar or the unions. He's in and out for the buck and he don't take prisoners.
Gordon Gekko: What's worth doing is worth doing for money.
Well, here's a reality check. Those fund managers have gotten slaughtered. So have everybody else. We've built an empire of money, and what is money? It is a perception of value. When you take out a loan, that costs you interest. That's a perception of a perception of value. And so the road becomes more and more muddled. Right now, the value of money is diminished. The reality is that without certain resources, industry based on money cannot be sustained.
Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed or the life force. The instinct for survival. Competitive behaviour? Greed may be an element of this, but strictly speaking it is not the right term. Greed is self-interested. The evolutionary spirit is connected and also gives information to the universe. There is a shared response to everything that happens. All life benefits.
What's worth doing is worth doing for money. That is the mantra of this world. Who cares what the consequences are. If a burger is cheap and fills the spot, that's all that counts right? What if hamburgers and Coke, two of the world's top 10 brands are primarily responsible for the number 1 cause of death in human beings. That's right, heart disease. More people die from high cholesterol, high blood pressure - from what we eat - than from smoking cigarettes.
No, very little of what we have been doing for money is worth it. Not for ourselves, even less for others.
It is possible that in time we may agree to live in a cashless society. Where we will act for the benefit of ourselves and others, without the expectation of reward or return.
Think about Bushmen in the Kalahari. No possessions. No ownership of property. Animals are killed in order to allow the tribe to survive and remain. To the extent that animals are killed in excess, in the Thirstland conditions they risk depleting the natural stores immediately around them. They respect every life they take, they apologise to the creatures they kill. Do we?
We may not live to see a time when people are motivated not by money. Where great wealth, collecting things is restricted to 1% of the world, while the majority starve, cannot read, and are victims of their destitute lifestyles.
In a world where we do not fight to protect our phantom wealth, there is no need for military, or weapons.
We can begin, nevertheless, to operate out of that benign spirit. Do you feel the compulsion to be connected to an intelligent, conscious system - the same system that gave birth to you, that you recognised as a child as so vast and wonderful?
In our families, and with friends, we operate to some extent out of a shared experience. There is no reason why we cannot extend some of these privileges to the laity. Cyclists knows this. They share their energies, they trust one another. This trust is based on the most simple partnership philosophy: you are in the same situation as I. By helping you, not only do I benefit, but all benefit. In the group I find protection and safety, and many of us are smarter than the individual.
We have the option to escape the Money Mindset in each and every moment. Yes, we need to buy food to live. But to the extent that we begin to produce and provide our own food and goods, we can move out of this transaction-based form of living, into a higher existence, and a shared experience. In any event, we cannot realistically pursue growth strategies any longer. The future will be, in many respects, about trading favours. Carbon trading may be the beginning of this. Eventually, we will have to provide for ourselves. That was in the natural scheme of things, and we will revert in the fullness of time, to this balance again.