This is an analogy.
I’ve been thinking a lot about mutual aid in the past weeks. I’ve seen many people groups band together for the exchange of resources in the wake of COVID-19. They’ve gone to work to identify what the individual needs of each other are, and who has shareable resources.
This got me thinking about resources, and how resources flow in our society. When COVID-19 hit I had this exchange with a friend on facebook:
I posted the idea on facebook, but it didn’t catch on. Old habits are hard to break.
Capitalism and our market culture demand an exchange. We give dollars in return for a product or service. Even if something is free, the exchange is between my time and attention and whatever it is you’re selling.
But nature doesn’t seem to work that way. Take our bodies. In a healthy system, if particular cells are in need of energy or resources, the body sends it to them. The cells receive what they need to complete the task at hand. The cells calling for resources doesn’t have to pitch the idea to the cells holding or carrying the resources. Can you imagine if that were the case?
The system trusts that whatever activity is being done is good, and right, and beneficial, and the system provides the necessary resources. Break that trust and doubt enters in. Injury is actually more likely. The system doesn’t function efficiently or peacefully anymore. It is broken.
A healthy system also has a way of dealing with the resources themselves. For most, we have a predisposition toward spending or saving that sits along a spectrum. The extremes can help us understand the advantages of each.
Spenders like to feel the energy of resources in use. They concentrate on all the things they can spend the resources on. “Imagine what can be done if…,” they say. When directed towards the benefit of people this focus and imagination can be amazing.
Savers like to feel the energy of resources in waiting. They concentrate on all the possible needs of the future and are frugal in the meantime. “I need to have this just in case,” they say. When connected to people in times of need, Savers have the resources that can come to aid.
In a healthy system Spenders and Savers can’t have simply transactional relationships, nor ones that compound debt. There must be trust and an ethic of gifting. It seems that there will always be some tension between the prudent Saver and the enthusiastic Spender, but I wonder what our world would be like if there was more trusted relationships and the free flow of resources between people of the two dispositions?
This is just scratching the surface of some of the workings in our current economic system. An extremely incomplete list includes understanding how fiat currencies actually function, the prominence of shareholder value as an ideology, and the nature of scale as it has to do with work, currency, and markets.
More to dig into for later, for sure.