A More Beautiful World – Part I – Beyond Slacking

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.

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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:

Unemployment

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

On Benefits

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.

 

 

 

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Beyond Money and Guilt

Today I heard several excellent people talk about how lack of money and the American dream (big house, car, etc) had affected and still affects their self -esteem. I felt really sad. I had carried that piece of aching guilt, about not having it financially together for many years. Just last March I had an Amazing Grace moment, (“was blind and now I see”) around money, and I now rarely carry that guilt, and I wanted to share with my friends and others, why.

For me that financial guilt was not simple, it had several parts, and the ideas behind it touched on some of my base ideas of what life and the world and myself are. I now see that “I am not living in the middle class” guilt as inaccurate and destructive in so many ways.

One root idea is that money is good, or at least a neutral way of meeting good needs. And if I was only psychologically and spiritually attuned enough, I would find a way to draw money, as much as I want, into my life. part of this idea, is there is enough for everyone to have the money and resources to be rich.

For starters, money is not neutral. there is nothing in the nature of money that is inherently bad, but the way it works in out society has really destructive aspects. A huge part of this has to do with interest. When the government prints money, it takes out a loan and has to pay interest, and then it gives the money to banks, which have to pay more interest, and then gives it to businesses and us, and need to get more interest. Money is like a hungry monster that always needs more. This system will not works in a stable, steady economy, there must be huge growth, or their is lack. And when their is lack, what do businesses and some people do? Hoard money. Why? Everything else in nature degrades, cars degrade, clothes wear out, land is taxed. But money if you have it, increases in value, so if you want to win the game of prosperity, the quickest way to do that is to hoard money, not to pass it around so everyone can use it.

Because of this, we live in a world where there is not enough money, there are winners, there are losers, there is not enough to do around. Intuitively, even if we have been told otherwise, we know this.There actually is enough food, enough housing (if we share and don’t hoard), but as long as these things are tied to money, we are in competition for a limited resource. Is it more moral to have more money? Pretty questionable.

Another inaccurate idea, is the very nature of the American dream. On some level, there is the idea that enough money can make us happy. And there is the idea that a large house for each person or family is “normal, and a root of that happiness. That dream is not sustainable for a majority of people. To have a large separate dwelling and yard, that tales maintenance, and costs to build requires a large enough amount of money (which means more “work” and time , that it causes us to have to overwork, and not have the time to be present, to enjoy what is around, us, to enjoy and really take in each other. We work harder to get a mansion (which is what even our modest houses would be considered in the rest of the world) and all the time and money isolates us and makes us more miserable. Web have other choices with less pace, and more time. and ,ore cooperation that are sustainable and make us happy, If you can’t maintain you own house, time or money wise, does that make you morally inferior? I don;t think so.

Part of the reason this “myth” that everyone who wants can have this financially abundant and wasteful lifestyle even exists is because of the 50’s and 60’s. There was an artificial prosperity in America, based on other countries giving us work and precious resources for almost nothing, and on us believing gas, and coal. and water, would just go on forever with no end. This artificial bubble of prosperity made us believe that we could live inefficient lifestyles where everyone could live like a king. And as reality has come back to balance over the last 5o years, as a nation we feel a collective guilt that we are doing something wrong because we can no longer all or at least mostly live a “middle class” lifestyle. This was a non-sustainable bubble that could never last.

Many of you who are reading this already know this, but once very basic resource needs are met, money is not the biggest determinant of happiness, it is time, connection, and meaning. If we are going to judge or evaluate ourselves in the world, those are the measuring sticks that make sense.

So the outgrowth of this is, if we don’t appear to have enough money, we are not alone, the system we live in sets this up./ We are not bad, we only have to find ways to survive and thrive, If we had fought harder to get money would that mean we are better people? Probably not.

If we can not afford a large middle class house, does that mean we are incompetent or morally inferior? No, maybe we are actually blessed, to find more sustainable ways to live and be happy.

if we do not find safety in our castles, we can find it in mature relationships. We can replace an instant abundance of things, with an abundance of time, experience, and intimacy. The very sharing we will have to do to live well, will bring us the connection that makes us happy.

To build the beautiful world we all dream about, we  each need to use our gifts, not like a workaholic, but in balance with an open heart. But the way the world is set up, sometimes we will find a “job” where we can do this, and sometimes we are not. The system is not set up for everyone to be employed, and especially not for everyone to have a meaningful job. If we have one, give thanks, and be generous with our money, but we are not better., If we don’t, give in the ways we can to our community.and we are not less.

One real need that is not addresses for many is economic security. While few of will have to face not eating, to have to leave a home, not by choice is deeply disconnecting. And so we all feel like we have to “make it” and preferably squirrel some away for hard times, we live with a sense of deep insecurity. Traditionally we live in tribes. And security was shared by all. If only the successful hunter ate, the tribe would soon die out. We were not meant to all have to individually financially protect ou9rselves. We need find ways to share profoundly, to invest in the “bank” of our community, allowing that to be the buffer for hard times we all need.

Beneath this is a whole new way of seeing life, of not only believing, but living that we are one as well as being separate, Of choosing what we value, and what is important, of a true prosperity, that we all can really have,

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS!

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS TO BUILD A SHARING ECONOMY WHERE WE ALL GET OUR NEEDS MET!

(adopt any that fit for you)

  • Before I buy, I will ask myself if this is something I can borrow, or get from my community

  • I will work to fulfill my real emotional needs and not use things to try to cover them up (no more ice cream for love)

  • I will value time at least as much as I value money and physical goods

  • I will have enough time to enjoy my life this year

  • (for the un- and under employed) I will work (X) hours a week making life better for my community, instead of feeling empty with no place to give

  • I will figure out what I really want and need

  • I will spend more time helping people and less time “looking for work” (this will probably help me get a paying job faster!)

  • I will believe my needs can really get met and that I deserve to have them met

  • I will ask others to meet my needs and wants, even if I am scared or embarrassed

  • I will practice gratefulness towards life and others and myself, daily

  • I will find a way to give the gift I most want to give to the world

  • I will say yes and no freely, with no shame

  • I will share my surplus, and let my community be my security

  • I will move closer to those who I love, and whom I can share companionship and resources with

  • I will create a life style where I only have to work part-time

  • If conflict (or my fear of it) keeps me from getting close, I will develop the skills to gracefully deal with disagreement

Living the Dream

The path to a joyous, abundant, connected world is right in front of us. If each one of us spent 25 hours a week (or more if that gave you joy) using our greatest gifts meeting the needs of those around us, and making the world a better place, and we shared our resources, we would have more than we needed, we would work in passion. If enough of us do this we will turn our corner of the world into the Garden of Eden.

So what is the path to getting there? If you are unemployed. You are unemployed no more. Decide you have a 25 hour a week job making the lives of others around you, better, and making the world a better place. You can connect with gift circles or online gifting tools like Kindista.org.  Or you can informally look at needs around you and simply offer to meet them, or find aligned non-profits and righteous organizations and volunteer your time. And them you can ask for others to meet your needs, the same way you are giving and see what comes back. You may still need to find a “job” but in my experience, using my best gifts, and letting others know I am looking is much more effective (and fulfilling) then sending out resume’s and pouring over Craig;s List.

If you are one of those folks whose paying work is using your greatest gifts to do good in the world, Rock on! If you doing someway between OK and great financially, find ways to spend money to meet your needs through other good people who love what they are doing rather than faceless corporations. If you have excess, give it to people around you, either people who give to you, or others who are doing good things in the world. Quoting the musical Hello Dolly, “Money is like manure, it is only worth something when you spread it around,”

If you feel stuck doing a job that is not your passion just to make ends meet, then look for ways you can receive from others around you in ways that can save you money and time. Gift Circles and Kindista are great for this. Look for areas where you spend money on things trying to fill up emotional holes, and actually get those emotional needs met by your community. Use the freed up resources to work less at your current job, and spend that time giving to others in a way that you love.

People are doing this now. The more of us who live this way, the more we give and receive from one another in love, the more our world is becoming the one we dream of.