Sunday, December 26, 2010

Assumptions and what's to come

I am struggling to get my brain organized. I have so many ideas, there are so many projects and so much information, new inspiring books, lots of passions...I honestly admit I have no idea what will happen in 2011. It seems to be an invitation to stop worrying about it and just wait and put my energy where the passion and inspiration seduce me. 

Every new entry in this blog seems further and further away from its original topic which is a New Economic System for Humanity. But really, I feel that this system has to be holistic, it has to include all the aspects of a human being that the current system has ignored for so long or has manipulated thus far. 

Up to now, I know that the problem is not money as such, and there is not really any problem with earning money out of doing something one believes is positive for humanity. I say this because I used to preferred non-profit organizations based on the idea that "aaahhh ok, you don't want money, you must be good then". Maybe it all depends on what I want that money for or how I will spend it. Money for the sake of money does not do anything and has been the cause of so much suffering, to the point that we believe that live depends on it. I often hear comments like "...but I need to eat, I need to educate my kids, I need to pay for a place to live". In my country, Colombia, I even heard many times...even I said it at some point, I would have kids only if I could ensure I would have the money to pay for what they need, otherwise "I'm not bringing another child to suffer on this planet". Another common thought I heard was "I want my children to have all what I couldn't have".  Let's look at this unexamined assumptions separately:

1) "I need money to eat/educate myself/educate my kids/to have a house". This assumption often translates to "I need money to live". I once asked someone to give me all the money she had on her pocket and/or wallet. After that, we stayed in silence looking at each other's eyes. She was expecting another instruction I suppose. After a while I said "you're still alive...what you need to be alive is not money, is live itself". Many years after that, I was having a conversation with a friend and I brought that statement up, she replied "well, yes...but...I need money to buy food, and to educate myself so I can get a job to buy food and a place to live". And someone else wisely suggested to me "yes, that is how it works at the moment, that's how it looks like, but it doesn't mean that it is the way it's meant to be, or that it will never change, or that it cannot change". Vegetables and fruits come from the earth, I sow seeds and transplant plants, not coins. So what I need to eat is the alive earth, not money. Knowledge and wisdom are transferred in many ways across cultures, families, generations, friends, knowledge and wisdom is contained in all what I see every day, and every person is generating knowledge every second. Money can actually be an obstruction to education because of the limiting believe that you need money instead of the actual wisdom contained in a situation. 

2) "I'm not bringing another child to suffer on this planet". Fair enough...I mean, I understand that we don't want to see starving kids in the world. But, what is our definition of suffering?? I do not have financial restrictions at the moment, however I cannot say that I have the perfect free-of-suffering life. Is money itself really the thing that makes us happy or unhappy?? Does it really switch on and off my happiness button?? It was pretty sad to realize that I did not have control over my inner emotional state, and to discover that it depends on everything else. At the same time, I discovered that this lack of control can be beneficial for the selfish me, who may always be able to find someone else to blame for my unhappiness, instead of assuming the responsibility involved in acknowledging that I allowed myself to be in such situation. How much money do I think I need to make the decision to have a baby?? Bringing life to earth depends on whether or not I have money to support that life...It just doesn't make sense. I see the natural world and it doesn't work like me. 

3) "I want my children to have all what I couldn't have"...what does that mean? Happiness for my kids is represented in me giving them as much stuff as they are happy to receive?? and of course, the only way to get that stuff is buy working in some, most likely, meaningless job so I can get the money to get all this stuff. Can I really ensure my kids will be happy if I can provide them with...things?? Many people say "well, that's the real world" and they console themselves with that excuse and, at the same time, give themselves the permission to keep the 'real world' as it is and avoid taking any responsibility for it. 

That said, I'll look at the other side of the coin, as we say in my country. Money is useful, is meant to be a catalyst, a tool to quicken the rate of exchange...not sure if that is the appropriate use of words but, one of the functions of money is to be a medium of exchange, and it is in that spirit that I use it to exchange knowledge and wisdom (or go to an education institution), to support all the exchanges necessary for vegies and fruits to get to my plate on my table, and to support all the activities that need to happen so I can have a place to sleep with my family. The source of happiness in that money comes from the fact that I am allowing good things to happen by putting the money in circulation for others to make use of it too. I believe that it is the spending of money and the creation of its abundance what supports a happier existence of human beings on earth. On the contrary, what I see happening in the world as it currently is, is the hoarding of money for pure and extreme fear of being death if there is not enough of it, again, linking life to money itself. Biological processes do not happen because of money. Life does not happen because of money. I believe that the monetary system is one of many projections of our inner state in the world.

Do we need to accumulate money?? I think it may be necessary sometimes, but it does not have to be the rule. Big infrastructure projects may need to have some basic financial capacity to go ahead, for example. For profit business may accumulate money for certain periods of time to invest in the improvement of their services or relationships, which attempt to create a better future for society, not necessarily to sell more of meaningless goods and services. I have big hopes that if we change the source of our desire to generate profits, we can change the structure of how we do business and engage in entrepreneurial ventures. If the source is fear, then the result is what we have, if the source is love, the results are beyond our mental capacity. In the 'real world' of fear, the cheapest price does not show what it costs to my being, to consume what I am consuming. The cheapest price allows me to save some money at the expense of my true wellbeing, at the expense of my aliveness and the capacity to support others in their efforts to 'survive'. The cheapest price really means nothing, often nor does it the highest price. I am interested to see how the new economics based on collaboration, openness and trustworthiness would establish a process of price formation. How will the price for anything be created?? The idea of 'retrospectives' of BetterMeans is inspirational on this matter. I'll provide a link to it soon. 

As I write, I feel that what 2011 has for me is an exciting and amazing journey to the exploration and confrontation of my own fears. In 2010 I visualized many things, and took my first little step towards making my dreams come true. The one event I put together with the help of so many people, really took me to the edge. Anyone could say that I failed: Few attendants and barely covered costs. However, at the end of the weekend. I was more alive than ever. Few but high quality participants that have 'real life' projects and are looking for solutions. I could have cried for the next week after not having achieved any of my initial expectations, but instead, I realized that this event was the first of many steps that  I have to take to dissolve my fears. Failure does not exist unless I am captive of what the world has to say about me. In other words I may say "I failed...and what!! I am not afraid to try again"...that really is anything but failure!!!

To start structuring my ideas somewhere, I dream of having my own business that projects what I think. I am pretty sure I know what that business is about, and 2011 will potentially be a year where I'll have to hit the wall many times to learn and get some experience. This is from scratch, even becoming a good blogger is part of the process. I have no work experience but I am confident that it will not be an obstacle to get me where I want to get...which I don't know where it is yet...I am in the process of discovering what it is that I want to passionately do in this world and not be ashamed of making money from it. Whether that money is official, complementary or both I don't know...everything is possible and probably better to be able to access them all. 

Welcome 2011!!! 


Saturday, December 4, 2010

"The Answer to How is Yes" on Fear vs Love...reflections on the "changing the economic dream event"

Peter Block is an author that I have not had the opportunity to read yet, but whom I profoundly admire for his approach to community building. He has a book called "The answer to how is Yes". What this title speaks to me is that, when we are facing a situation that we want to change, generally improve, we ask the question "how do I do it?", but hidden underneath this question, what we are really asking is 'can I do it?'. And the answer is YES. The 'can I do it' and 'how do I do it' questions somehow imply that I want to do something but lack the information and even the inspiration to do it, it seems to me that when I ask 'how do I', meaning 'can I', I am actually feeling powerless, hopeless, maybe incapable, and potentially not wise enough to address the issue that is of my concern. In these questions I read and hear fear. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of being idealistic, unreal, and fear of those who may have the answer to 'how to do it'.

One of the main conclusions I came up with from the weekend, is that most of humanity wants to change the world in one way or another. We don't want poverty, we don't want injustice, we don't want wars, corruption, polluted rivers, air, oceans, we don't want mass extinction. But I often ask myself where are we acting from when we are making the decision to change something, anything?? and, why do we want to change it?? what is so wrong about it that I want to change it?? and really...what is it that I want to change??

Well, it seems that often I want to create change out of actions that come only from the rational mind, as in; "the problem is this, and I think that's is wrong because X,Y and Z, therefore what we have to do is A,B and C". This position has to start from the assumption that I am not part of the problem, which implies that I don't take any responsibility for the state the world is in, rather, I am part of the 'right' people with the 'right' solution. And when I realized that, I understood that those who I blame for the state of the world, are simultaneously blaming me. I see this as a day-in-day-out situation everywhere around the world: Politics, economics, environment...debates like climate change are stuck in a battle to defend personal perspectives because of this I'm-right-you're-wrong discussion, instead of uncovering the deeper layers of the problem...and yes, I'm probably stating by that, that that is see?? The right-and-wrong fight, takes me to act out of fear too: fear of me being wrong, and fear of the potential risk to die if, for instance, I don't 'act against climate change and those who don't think there is a problem'. Thus...what am I doing different really?? am I changing the world as I supposedly and desperately want?? 

From a perspective of mind and heart balance, focusing on defending my point of view seems rather fundamentalist. And here is where I see the immense importance of my believe system, whatever that may be, my theory is that, regardless of the system, you are following those ideas in an attempt to be a better person. Even when the ideas are not religious/spiritual. I tend to have a bit of a giggle when I heard talks about being atheist, secularism, or science and religion discrepancies, because, for those who don't follow any religion, whatever they use to attack the notion, being this science or something else, has the same effect on them as religion teachings have in their followers. Whether it is objective or subjective believes, we use them for the same purpose: Create a better world. The question is then: what is a better world?? and how can we create it without having to kill anybody?? Is it possible to have 'the best world'?? and are we ever going to be satisfied with the world we get?? Acting from the heart, may make a difference on the world we create and by acting from the heart, I probably mean, taking the risk to jump in the water without fear...because fear and love cannot act together although they need each other. 

Thus, I ended up thinking that changing the world, saving the planet, eliminating poverty and so on, is not really what I want. What I deeply want and need is to have a happy world and happy surroundings. I think I've been confused all my life because I always thought that to be happy, I had to change others, I had to convince people that they're wrong so that they can change and create a space in the way I wanted it to be so that I can be happy. My recent reflection from the event says different: I don't want to change the world, I want to change what I experience from the world. I want to experience love, and happiness, and compassion...if I see happy children everywhere, I'll experience good emotions, I don't want to experience sadness. Changing this perspective has made a huge difference in the way I'm trying to do things now. I went from a state of anxiety, sense of not enough time and acting as if death was chasing and catching up on me, to what it feels to be like a temporary stage of calmed reflection about what the next step might be. 

The problem with this conclusion is that love, compassion and forgiveness are difficult to sell in a world of actions and practice. The first question that comes to mind is 'how can we translate love, compassion and forgiveness into practice in this world??' and again, what that question really means is 'can that really happen in this crazy world??'...again, the answer is yes. If I can love, forgive and feel the pain of the world as my own pain, then I definitely can put that into actions that express it. In fact, the world I have today, is an attempt to do that!! I just need to try something different...I need to stop asking "how" and start asking maybe, where or when, or who is doing something similar when...I need to step back from the cloud of fear and endless discussions about righteousness and wrongness. I've tried those discussions all my life and the world still is what it is, I think it is about time to try something different. Good news are, this 'something different' is emerging and it is not just a nice dream. There are now tools and projects that I see as the direct result of acts of fearless love, compassion and forgiveness and I'm sure the people who are creating these things are immensely happy. 

And 'what to do with the people that have created so much suffering in this world??', 'are they not going to pay for all what they have done??' asks my brain consumed in fear, and my heart answers: If you leave them behind, you're not doing anything different to what you have already done, and the result will be a world equally unjust to them, as the unjust world you have today for others. You don't have to change them, you just have to change yourself and leave the door open to when they want to knock. 

And what has this to do with money/finance/economics?? Well...I've many times wanted to inflict some sort of punishment to bankers to be honest, and to consumerists, and maybe capitalists and socialists, and corporate men...the list goes on and on I gonna leave them behind?? then I'll have to live with the idea that I'll have a world with only about 5% of the current population, actually, I'll have to live with the idea that I wouldn't be part of that world. What am I going to do with the 95% then, including myself....???...I guess I  better review that idea.

Seriously thinking about writing 'The Economic Dream' by Tatiana Spanish. Where can I start from??