Community Service – Economos, Contemplating the Vision

– (oikos, “house” nomos, “custom” )

meditations and quotes from Life, Money and Illusion – Mike Nickerson

Without Vision, the People Perish – Chapter 1 Life, Money and Illusion p 1-2

“Ever since realizing that increasing hardship can accompany RECORD economic output, I have been studying economics trying to understand why.

What is it about the way we organize our mutual provision – the economy- that causes hard times for people when the economy isn’t expanding? … Note that from the start, the author wishes to demystify the term “economy”. You will see it used interchangably with the phrase “mutual provision”. Economic exchange is a basic element of human life”

How might we recreate the system so that we can produce well-being without destroying ourselves? This book represents what I have found….

Chapter 1 continues.. No person provides directly for his or her needs. The economy is the process by which people exchange one sort of help – goods they make or the services they perform for those of others. Economic exchange need not be based on selfishness or exploitation. … While economic exchange is the foundation of human communities, we are stuck in a model which is in a collision course with planetary [and human] limits . To adopt another model we have to overcome the perception that the present structure is the only form possible. The human family has come to what is probably the most critical choice we will ever make. It is now necessary to question what we are trying to accomplish

Interlude: Protest and Fighting for Change

The perceived lack of vision in the Occupy movement: “If a movement has no clear goal (to be “unachieved”) – what does that mean for the general causes that they are fighting for? Causes such as social justice, rethinking our values, inspiring change in the way our economy works, political reform may get marginalized as pipe dreams. .. I had my own idea two years ago for a a bank withdrawal protest that did not all have the be on the same day. My idea was to withdraw any amount with all 4s, $444.44, $4,444.44, etc. It would be easy to spread the word, and the banks could easily tally the protest amounts over time. We could call it something like 4sing Change –

With Vision: Mutual Pro-vision in Community

Provision – Middle English from Old French, forethought, from Latin -provsiu – to foresee – to provide

We do not have to force change when we provision our community. We need to embrace it. We need to carry through on our commitment to mindfully consider what our economics do to each other and to our environment.

Economic principles taken from LMI Chapter 1:

Well-being is sustained when our economic activities –

1. Use materials in continuous cycles. Pictures from space show the the layer of materials actually of use to living things is only a very thin film over the planets surface. Within the limited stock of materials, any substances needed regularly must, over time be used again and again. The cycles which bring the needed material back for reuse, must either occur naturally, like the cycles of water and carbon, or they must be maintained through mindful recycling programming.

2. Use continuously reliable sources of energy

We are consuming supplies of coal and oil at a far greater rate than they are created. The dangers of releasing the waste caused by these processes aside, their massive use cannot be our habit. .. Instead, energy sources that can be relied on over the thousands of years that await the human family include: Heat from the earth (insulated structures), the Sun (insolation), wind and water, (kinetic and potential energy). These power sources are abundant, and can be published practically anywhere.  When these structures are applied at a human rather than super-human scale, these energy sources have relatively little or no negative impacts.

3- The Human Scale  and the qualities of being human

Once we have secured the food and shelter necessary for healthy life, worlds of opportunity open up for personal growth and satisfaction. The three Ls  – Learning , Love and Laugher – as well as art music, dance, sport communication, experimenting, service,  star gazing, observing   and appreciation of the universe, within and around ourselves, can all make life worthwhile. Without harming the Earth, they can provide pleasure, purpose and meaning to our lives.

 Chapter 8 – Where Value is Overstated – Eco-logy and Eco-nomy   –

Eco-logy – study of “our house” and Economy – rule of “our house” must be reframed so that economics is no longer three fifths of ecology but rather includes it:

Economics can no longer be…….           Materials-Processing-Distribution

but must include …       Natural Resource-Materials-Processing-Distribution – Waste

The challenge and the goal is to shift our thinking to always include the ecology into the economic equation to never omit these 2 factors in our accounting system. We do this by establishing a pattern and a rythm in the way we live. Therefore we mindfully include the cost of waste and use of a given resource in all of our activities.   We need to protect and  nurture this pattern ‘integrity’, in the way we live move and have and share our being

Chapter 15 – How to Get There from Here: A Question of Direction

Community Model – A Three-Fold Social Order derived from Rudolf Steiner – Mike Nickerson p. 319

… recognizing the climate of societies collapsing under economic control…

Writing in Germany in 1919, Rudolf Steiner recognized the danger of wealth concentrating under the control of one sector of society. He saw problem brewing in the power that business was exercising over government, and he saw further problems arising for social well-being as a result of the control that the business sector was exercising over the cultural life of society. Steiner understood that the business sector had access to the material and financial resources of the community; producing material goods was what they did. It was not in the [well-being] interest of society, for the business sector to have control over all aspects of human activity. In his book the Threefold Social Order, reprinted as Toward Social Renewal, Steiner makes a case of recognizing that society is made up of economic, political and cultural sectors. These three Steiner saw respectively as he cultural manifestations of willing, thinking and feeling. Each sector has particular areas of concern, and in each area, the people involved are the ones best informed for making decisions in those areas… The business sector understands what has to be done to meet the needs of the people and the necessary work. They are also accustomed to applying their will to getting it done. At the same time, their natural assertiveness needs to be tempered by the rights and responsibilities of the political (and justice) sector, as well as the cultural sector. With the wealth … distributed among the three sectors … to be  worked with by the people most familiar with and affected by te functions of each sector, each area will flourish… and add to the health of the whole.

Taken from “Cultural Foundations: Working Together as Societies”

Buddhist Economics – Do no harm – pp 296-298

Livelihood is what one does to participate in society. It involves more than the production of goods and services; it enables one to develop skills, find fulfillment and overcome self-centredness. Mutual provision is , therefore seen as more than a process of work and trade between people; it provides a means for people  to clarify the meaning of their lives and  to refine  their characters. This difference in perspective results in significant differences in how decisions are made. In our dominant culture, [manual] labour is often viewed as something to be avoided. Business sees labour as an expense to be eliminated, if at all possible, and workers dream of how they might have an income without having to work. In the Buddhist perspective, to organize an economy so as to minimize work would seem odd. If there were already not enough work to go around, reducing it further would be considered distinctly anti-social. [Everyone can contribute in some way, and this bestows a feeling of contributing to that one].. Even if those without work were given enough money to live comfortably, therefore, the provision of material needs is only a part of work … What is regarded as undesirable is craving and attachment; situations where a person’s life is dominated by material things, and where, when something is lacking, even if it is not necessary for life, the quality of that person’s life experience is depreciated. The Buddhist approach is focused more on providing for what people need [italics added] with a minimum of intervention . Since the extraction of resources always causes some disruption to the land and life, ways of organizing mutual provision that require unnecessary extraction are seen as a form of violence – the antithesis of the value of kindness. If a way of life cannot provide for itself from the local area, the people must bring in resources from further away. This would be looked on leniently, but a trend toward escalating dependency on far-away resources, as evidenced by increasing transportation would signal failure and a deterioration of the eco-nomy [the management of the communal environment for the common good]. When people can manage on fewer resources rather than more, both the people nd the natural world are better off. Respect for all living things and, in particular trees, is a part of the Buddhist world view. … Work helps people feel useful. We are appreciated for what we do  for others and feel personally fulfilled when we are appreciated . When this is broken down into tiny segments in the interest of maximizing productive efficiency, on an assembly line for example, much of the personal benefit of feeling creative, providing a service and having our contribution recognized are lost . Compensation in money provides only a portion of work’s benefits.  If the purpose of an economic system were to provide effectively for people’s needs, there would be far less stress then when a system is constantly striving to do more than that. Less stress leaves people in a better position to develop their human potentials. … A mind is a tool for doing tasks, and it is an amazing tool which gives us extraordinary capabilities, but like our hands, which are also worthy tools at our command, the mind does not always have to be in motion. Without the ability to disengage the mind, our capacity to remember the past and project into the future can be as great a burden as it is a blessing. … The purpose is not to stop thinking altogether, but simply to strengthen the capacity to disengage when it is  not serving our purpose  and to let other forms of awareness, and our simplicity come to the surface.

 Community Eco-Nomics  – Journey of Simplicity

Mediation —  Taken from  Journeys of Simplicity, Travelling Light

Traveling light, imagine this meaning, unencumbered, journeying, a graceful way of traveling through life like a single leaf. Now imagine another; the light by which we journey, the light that shows the way. Our travelling light.
Travelling light – “For  number of years I have collected lists about travelling light. I began collecting these lists, I suppose, because I found myself drawn to their spare poetry – a poetry of emptiness. I still do not  fully understand why I find them compelling… The author invites us:

“Approach these pages slowly and quietly, as you would a sleeping child. You could no doubt read them all, but then you would lose your rest. So instead, read a few pages at a time. They have stories to tell, questions to ask. Where do our journeys take us?

What do we leave behind?
What do we carry with us?
We take delight in things; we take delight in being loosed from things.
Between these two delights, we must dance our lives.

One Response to Economos

  1. Aileen McKenna says:

    I absolutely love this….such simplicity and peacefulness. I truly believe that if we can adopt these concepts into our community, we will be able to live a model of living lightly on the planet that many of us have dreamt of tbut had no idea as to how to create that environment.

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