There is a more beautiful world, one with everyone who is willing has many of their needs met; where no one fears being homeless or going without food or medical care; where no one lacks the time to love a full life and have relationships; where we follow our dreams; where we create beauty and reach out into other parts of the culture and the world and give a helping had to make their lives better. And there is such excess around us, that this dream does not even require our government to make different and better choices. And it does not require the whole culture to come along.
However we cannot get all the way to this world ourselves, we must do it as a community. If enough of us make choices based on the truths of our oneness, the abundance of the world, and the goodness inside of us. We can live in this more beautiful world now.
What each of us needs to do is a little different depending on our place in life at this time. In this series we will look at the steps we each need to take to move back to the garden of Eden.
The Slacker has become a cultural hero. The person who does just enough to get by, and prioritizes hanging out and having fun over any kind of achievement. Some of you are thinking, “that is disgusting” and others, “right on!”. But which ever camp you are in, there are cultural forces, some of them based on accurate assessments of our culture, that have led to the slacker phenomenon.
Many of us, especially the baby boomers, grew up in a world that preaches the virtues of hard work. If we applied ourselves and did our best, we would prosper, be able to bountifully meet our material needs which would lead to happiness, and this would lead to our entire nation succeeding. And those of us with our eyes open have seen that this “gospel of work” had huge holes in every area. Companies would work us to the bone and keep the profits, and then not care a bit when they downsized us. The “progress” we were creating was destroying the environment and other cultures around the world. Money did not make people happy, sometimes the opposite. And many of us sat in jobs where what we did, did not matter to the well-being of the world, or sometimes our hard work would make it worse. Sometimes it seemed that almost every job was tainted in some way.
So enter the age of the slacker. Where many folks stopped caring about progress in any way. And prioritized, hangout out, friends, and good times. As we have detailed, there were large parts of the culture and especially the world of work where the slacker rationale made a lot of sense. And it did lead to more open time and actually opportunity to show up and enjoy life.
However as humans we have other needs as well, including the need to create. Each one of us in some way wants to make the world around us a little bot of a better and more beautiful place. And the slacking lifestyle often created no outlet for this giving creativity, often using pot and other chemicals to numb the empty feelings that came from not expressing ourselves.
And as we look towards a more beautiful world, all the rules change. The premise is this: If each of us within a sizable community shares the gifts within us, identifies our real needs (and lets go of the substitutes championed by advertising) , and treats others in our community, like a family or a tribe, not as individuals we are competing with; then we can all live beautiful lives, most needs will be met, and no one will have to overwork to do it.
On this path, every person matters. If you are not doing your part, giving the gift you have to give, not in a perfectionist overachieving way, but just in balance; then someone else will suffer. An important need will not be met. Someone else will have to overwork to the point of unhappiness to make up for the piece that you are not providing.
So it is time for going beyond slacking. For each one of us, to find the most meaningful work possible. This does not mean we all need to be saving babies in Africa or manning the protest lines, but simply doing something that makes others lives better in at least a small way, and feels good to us.
Given the current economy, there will be times when some of us do not have meaningful work. We can create more and more ways to give and receive from one another that are not dependent on a regular “job” and money. (more about this later in the series) . And we are stuck in a job meaningless enough that slacking is appropriate. We can use our time. For instance, maybe you support on online network or do online activism while at work rather than becoming the world Free Cell champion. Or we relax fully at work and save our energy for work that really matters. If you are not in love with your job, work part-time rather than full, to give you more time to both give and enjoy life. If you have to cut back a bit on pot and ice cream, so be it. (I recognize that some seem trapped in lives where it seems they need to work full-time, I both have compassion for this situation, and hope that in this series we give answers that mean you won;t have to live that way.)
Let’s look at what living “beyond slacking” looks like in some specific situations:
The societal paradigm for unemployment is to looks for a job – 30-40-50 hours a week. I can think of few things more demoralizing and less productive. Unless you get a job right away, you will likely experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
The slacker paradigm is do as little as possible til the unemployment runs out. This is a wasted opportunity. Your community needs you. One of the destructive aspects of unemployment is that people have no place to give and use their skills. This leads to depression even more than fears about money. I recommend that in most situations that we all spend at least 15-20 hours a week doing things we feel good about to make the lives of those around us better, it might be using a specific skill we have, doing 2 days of childcare a week for an overwhelmed single parent, Doing fix-it jobs for those in our community for those who don’t have the skills of the time.There is something each of us can do. You can do this for free or for whatever the other person can pay. We can not let lack of money keep us from giving and receiving from one another. There are whole networks set up where you can give and also meet some of your needs without money. Check out Kindista.org worldwide or gift circles in your area (if you are in the Eugene area, check out Eugene Gift Circles https://eugenegiftcircles.wordpress.com/
If you do need or want paying work, let the people you are serving know you are looking for work. More jobs come through connections than the want ads – especially enjoyable meaningful jobs. You can also do things for others for what
If you are someone who is long term government benefits, likely because holding down a full time job would not be possible for one reason of another, you have a great opportunity to be a blessing to your community. You have time to give probably without huge financial need. Don’t buy into the idea you have nothing to give. or that what you give would not make a difference. Honestly assess what you have to give that would benefit others, and how much you can work in your situation. You don’t have to get a paying job that could threaten your benefits. The network of non-economic exchange, often called the Gift Economy is tailor made for you. As you give to those in your community, you will make a difference for them, and you will feel more connected to others to life. (check the links in the paragraph before this one, We create this more beautiful world when ALL of us give what we can.