What if we had an economy based on appreciation and respect rather than money?
What if it's already begun?
"We're right now at a time of transition, you could say reunion. A reunion of heart and mind, a reunion of matter and spirit." — Charles Eisenstein, A New Story of the People
Money has, for millennia, served the illusions of separation and scarcity. Yet money is a very convenient medium of exchange. It's far simpler to take money you've earned as a dentist, say, and use it to buy boots, than to find a bootmaker who's needing dental work and arrange a barter.
Here's a video that explains how the Gift Economy works...
Wicca Spirituality Energy Exchange (link opens new window)
As is common in the awakening of spiritual consciousness now happening in the world, maybe the problem isn't with the tool, but with how we're perceiving it and using it!
If we use money as a conscious symbol of the energy we've expended, and offer it as a gift in exchange for something we value, can money itself be uplifted and sanctified?
Can our relationship with money be healed?
Some of the best minds of the New Paradigm believe so.
As Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, has said:
"Today, we are nearing the limits of the expansion of the monetized realm of goods and services, the limits of economic growth. There just aren’t that many more opportunities to convert forests, petroleum, or any other of the Earth’s wealth into money. That is the underlying reason why the money system, which depends on such opportunities, isn’t working very well anymore. …
"As the breakdown proceeds, we will have more and more opportunities to recreate the money system so that it embodies the principles of the gift.
"To get ready for such as day, we can begin orienting ourselves, in thought and in action, away from expanding the realm of paid goods and services, and toward the beautiful and generous things we truly want to do.
"At its heart, money is a token of society’s appreciation and gratitude for the gifts that we give. Whereas once this appreciation was for our contribution to the growth and dominance of the human species, it is shifting today toward other values.
"Soon, we will have the opportunity to shift the money system as well, to align with these new values."
-- Charles Eisenstein, The Iron Law of Money (emphasis mine)
Crowdfunding is one of the main avenues that is driving this economic transition. Crowdfunding campaigns, as through Kickstarter and Indiegogo, are allowing people to choose what has value and what they want to see or hear.
“[Crowdfunding etc] as a phenomenon is made much more comprehensible once you realize that it’s not following the logic of the free market; it’s following the logic of the gift,” explains Rob Trump in the New York Times.
Another way the Gift Economy works is the pay-as-you-choose model. How this works is that instead of selling something at a fixed price, you can have it for free, and are requested to give some amount as a gift. An example of this is Charles Eisenstein's book on this subject, Sacred Economics.
You might also see this in concerts and workshops that are offered "by donation."
On the surface, this might not seem much different from a sales transaction. But only on the surface.
Because you can have the item for free if that's your choice, you end up not so much paying for the item, but paying it forward, making it possible for the giver to create more things to offer in the future.
Another version of this is supporting services that you appreciate by making voluntary contributions from time to time. Where I live, we have a community newspaper that runs on voluntary contributions by readers, for example.
This is also the way Wicca-Spirituality.com is run, by the way.
It's a full-time job for me, keeping up with everything, with a steady stream of information and insights on Facebook and Twitter, publishing the Silver Chalice e-zine, sending out emails to the Inspirations Plus list… and answering many questions a day!
Besides my time and energy, there are also costs incurred, like the price of the website and email services, and then technological tools to allow me to work online.
The way I can afford to keep doing this is by having fans support my work by giving donations, clicking on the google links, purchasing things from the site, and so forth.
Some people mistake this for a materialistic intent. It makes me laugh -- the amount of information I give away for free every day! No payment is required, so it can hardly be thought of as mercenary.
But it is necessary to provide people with a variety of ways to show support. For a Gift Economy, we must create pathways for the gifts to be received.
The pay-as-you-choose method works best in a culture of gratitude and respect ... a demographic which is, admittedly, a little thin these day, but that appears to be growing with the rebirth of the Goddess and the return of valuing relationship and excellence.
Until now, it's been the corporations that decide what we get. But now there is a direct connection with funders/fans that has never been possible before, and it is changing the free market, from the grassroots up!
And taking the power out of the hands of the corporations to make decisions about...
As filmmaker Ian Mackenzie says, it's about "shared enthusiasm and shared passion."
As Mackenzie explains, it's the difference between a gift and a transaction.
"A transaction fundamentally is where you receive a good or service or something and you pay money for it, which is another way of 'I don't owe you anything after this.' ...
In the gift relationship, there's actually a type of indebtedness, because you realise that you were supported by somebody and you in turn, out of gratitude, want to support them as well."
This is why he sums up the Gift Economy with this key insight:
"The currency of crowdfunding is not money: it's relationships."
The Gift Economy thus creates ongoing relationships between people -- between fans/supporters and those with something to offer. We all become receivers, and givers, of gifts.
There is no difference, in fact, between receiving and giving a gift.
This is the new Gift Economy. And you can participate in it every time to support an artist or inventor, give money to a busker on a street corner, and pay your bills out of gratitude for the services you've received.
Every day we have opportunities to dismantle the old money system and empower a system that operates from the heart.
Every moment we act from a new story, we both disempower the old one and reinforce the new one!
That's how the Gift Economy is part of the healing of the world.
And that's another way you can be part of the healing.
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