This year I didn’t set resolutions or goals. Instead, I chose a focus word (balance) to guide my decisions throughout the year. For me, a big part of choosing the word “balance” involves my relationship with money. And as such, I have been seeing articles, blog posts, tweets, newsletters and everything else about money floating around the Internet. Then I remembered this video created by Ian MacKenzie, Sacred Economics, with Charles Eisenstein.
According to the website, “Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological and sustainable way of being.”
Something from this book that really stuck with me is the concept that scarcity is just a perception, and that the perception of the scarcity of money makes everything else scarce, including happiness. You don’t have to look very hard to see the perception of scarcity all around us, also known as “the bad economy.” Not to make light of people who are having a difficult time, because I know people are, but think about it this way: we are consumed by a society in which more for me is less for you, but Eisenstein argues that in a gift economy, more for me is more for you because those who have more give to those who are in need.
I admit that I wasn’t so sure about the idea of a gift economy before learning more about it. I knew of websites out there where you could share items, and that materials and services change hands via a gift economy on the Playa at Burning Man, but how would that work in the “real world”?
For a gift economy to work, Eisenstein says there are some things that must be in place: giving and receiving must be in balance (there’s that word again!), the source of the gift should be acknowledged, gifts flow towards the greatest need, and (my favourite) gifts circulate rather than accumulate.
Balance, acknowledgement, flow, circulation.
You may be wondering, as I was, how can I incorporate this into my life? The last few chapters of the book address just this, and one of the most important gifts you can give is to fully receive a gift from another person, another living thing, even from the Earth. Accept the compliments, have genuine gratitude in interactions with other people. Recognize that everything we receive means someone or something else had to give. Gifts are important for building relationships and community, but when in balance.
Take a moment today and ask yourself: what gift can you offer the world today?