“Groundwork for a New Paradigm Value Exchange”
(©2013.12.27) Joseph Alan Drushal, Gift of Being
Each new life born on this planet, each new generation, arrives as a gift to the world, and the world as well a gift to each, for every work of significance, of lasting value, is bestowed for our inheritance. A vast wealth of natural and man-made resources, sacred gifts embodying millennia of knowledge and wisdom, and even precious luxuries that have survived the ages, should we choose to accept shall be placed in us as the new explorers and beneficiaries of the Great Mystery, carrying the legacy of a Great People. Such a destiny is surely befitting a culture of reverence, and surely available for all to in-body how they may, however it is made challengingly inconspicuous in these times.
Generally understood of the world’s indigenous societies is that “kinships and relationships extending to all the land and the cosmos are actively recognized, not taken for granted,” and it can be suggested that “the gift is one of the most important organizing principles around [to] which values and perceptions of the world are attached.” For these early explorers, a kind of circular reciprocity also stands as one of the central dimensions of a reverence for the natural world and a responsible coexistence with living systems [ibid.]. A feeling and acknowledgment of interdependence pervades this mode of thought. The connected self, one who espouses cooperative nurture as principal for abundance learns to recognize “your good fortune is my good fortune” and “more for you is more for me,” and in short time, I feel, just may re-emerge from today's ashes integrally aligned with a New Earth Tribe.
Over the last couple thousand years, we've seen the systematic commodification of the Commons and the coercive subsumption of local economies. Where man was once free to roam, self-sustaining, and living harmoniously with natural laws, money has appropriated culture, caused scarcity where there was abundance, and siphoned unconscionably from the giving-well. Along the way, humanity's relationship with value went from one of collective stewardship to one of exclusivity, personal gain at the expense of others, and separation from Source. There are some who believe this separation was intentionally orchestrated by an “elite” group ultimately for the enslavement of humanity, and while there is much evidence to support such an insidious agenda, dating as far back as the ancient Sumerians, its continued stranglehold nonetheless relies on the peoples’ acquiescence.
But regardless of which version of history has it right, I believe the predicament we are now in is as much intimately personal as it is grandly societal, because if we engender a perception of self that is of being separate and alone in an indifferent, survival-of-the-fittest competition for scarce resources, we will continue along the path of endless “growth”, hoarding artificially created “wealth”, and claiming “ownership” until nothing remains but insatiety. Of course it doesn't have to be this way, but it is only when we are ready in giving countenance to the ever-flowing energies of a nurturing, life supporting Universe that we will begin to see our systems shift into that paradigm which aims to serve the highest good.
A wonderful prompt I would posit for helping to identify some tangible vector is another question: “What would you do if money were absolutely not an obstacle?”
Being an optimist, I imagine wholeheartedly a world where we are making time for the exploration of our most creatively expressive qualities, and our unique curiosities and passions. One place in which these energies come together for me is the realm of sound technology, music making, and the recording arts. Another place where my interests coalesce is in the great outdoors, among natural wonders which endlessly inspire. In this place I would love to further investigate and thoughtfully document some of the animal kingdom's tiniest friends—insects!
In between these labors of love (perhaps more meticulous than laborious), I would make the time to learn the joys of cooking from scratch, and make the time to more fully honor the physical vessel, cultivating a deepening yoga practice. All the while teaching/learning, sharing knowledge and progress, and allowing my strengths to serve as bigger stepping stones for other-selves to come. Essentially, I would be making the time to explore consciousness—not only what is perceived as my own, but all the beauty and intelligence invariably surrounding and permeating that experience.
Still yet, beyond the personal journey, there is a need to establish some simple metric which can effectively bring the human family together. As one visionary Sacha Stone has elocuted: “We do not like war; We do not like sending our sons, our brothers, and our fathers onto battlefields …; We like to farm[? garbled]; We like to plant trees and flowers; We like to roll in meadows and make love; We like to create things and make things; We like to breathe fresh air, eat good food, and swim in clean water.” Values such as these have the power to unite us all in transcending the human conflict, whatever its origin, because what they epitomize is the primary gift of being.
If we hope to break the cycle of unconscious endless growth, profound transformations in our value systems must first be realized within each of us. In heart-speak, I would venture to say that by the practice of acknowledging deeply our connections with each other and the All that IS (that’s Love, folks), we the People, the custodians and co-Creators of this collective conscious reality, can begin to confidently step into our true I AM selves, reclaim our Value and birthright, and quickly become The Change.
For all the havoc modern day, globalized capitalism has sown—social injustice, environmental destruction, et al.—there has always run in parallel continuous revolutions of industry so fixated on advancing efficiency that we have reaped a perplexing abundance of resources. Material and human resources, valuables and invaluables alike, everything society has created up to now is more than enough to meet our collective needs, without further destruction, yet many still starve. Considering also the amount of waste being generated, it becomes clear an incognizance of an economical, and dare I say teleological kind, persists.
Looking at the origin of the word 'economy' provides curious insight into this highly contrasted state of abundance amid (artificial) scarcity. From the Ancient Greek nemein + nomos “manage, managing” and oikos “house” (cognate with Latin vicus "district," vicinus "near;" Old English wic "dwelling, village;" see villa), we have oikonomos “manager, steward”, and oikonomia “household management, thrift”.
At the forefront of household management, one issue that comes to mind is the challenging dichotomy of reflexive consumption–leading to reflexive waste (of time, energy, resources, Self)–and conscious craftsmanship concerned with the production of order, perfection, and goodness. On the one hand is a microcosmic characteristic of entropy, or “wandering cause”, and on the other, respectively but not mutually exclusive, is another expression of the divine craftsman, an “intelligent cause”.
Both relate to necessity, however it is the latter which is concerned with the discovery of purpose, or the “reason for which” any home needs stewarding; the former, analogous to waste would be the excess of a wandering, squandering self-interest, but looking closely, one may see an opportunity emerge. Much of what we waste, either literally as deposit in a garbage heap or by underutilization and neglect (especially of the Self), is simply seeking a new home, a new usefulness, or a re-purposing. From whichever receptacle necessity is provided, we have the option to reassign disused faculties and resources to service and contribution. Thus the divine craftsman (or woman) can once again enter into his (her) element, moving with grace and purposeful action.
It is a familiar feeling standing fully present in purpose–a feeling joyfully aligned with that reason for which. Though it can sometimes be fleeting, the signature of the energy is unmistakably that of abundance, and emanates from a seemingly inexhaustible Source, a zero-point. This is the Home we must find in ourselves, because from it the Gift of Service flows, our role in the greater community becomes clear, and the necessities for craftsmanship are found. Once we arrive in this place, there is no longer room for scarcity, because all is imbued with meaning.
So what does that kind of Value System look like? Well, have you ever been out riding your bicycle, gotten a flat tire, but neglected to pack the proper tools to fix it, when another stranger-friend cyclist happens to stop, offering to make the mend without any expectation for return? Have you ever been strapped for cash and unable to come up with groceries for the week when a friend shows up with a free box of goodies? Have you ever had so much energy while working out in the yard that you decided to do your neighbors a favor by helping to trim their overgrown bushes? Or sat down with a hot meal, saw someone more in need right outside the window, and felt moved to share?
These are more spontaneous examples, but nonetheless illustrate our capacity for generosity and giving without expectation by way of a joyful alignment with purpose. Well, what if all we had to do was voice our needs, broadcast them into the aether, in order for them to be met? What if Gratitude were the only currency needed for an equitable exchange system to work? With all the skills and resources modern civilization has produced, couldn't we simply design a system which facilitates cooperative action so that everyone everywhere is provided for?
As we all have heard, “the best things in life are free.” But really, is anything actually free? Can we look at anything and say, “this required no input to come into being”? I would suggest a rephrasing to say, “the best things in life are given.” Or, even better, they are shared. How liberating a feeling it would be to know I didn’t have to own a personal replica of every single contraption modern living likes to prescribe. I could cut the grass without owning a lawn mower; I could make soup without owning a blender; I could record music without owning a studio; I could be well-clothed without owning a whole wardrobe. Why own anything when all we really need is access? If all entitlement were removed, all possessions released from the bondage of ownership, what an exciting new world it would be, for we would experience far more than could ever be bought, discover things we never knew existed, and surprise ourselves in remarkable new endeavors.
Synergic science, the topic famously pioneered by R. Buckminster Fuller, is the science concerned with the behavior of whole systems, where the integral, aggregate components and subassemblies produce an unpredictable effect greater than the sum of its individual parts. As illustrated in Timothy Wilken’s Ortegrity, within our grasp is a “conflict-free” social ecology whereby the heterarchy and hierarchy of desicion-action can synergize to produce win-win organizations of human relationship. Taking it a step further, Wilken proposes a complementary push-pull “tensegrity” focusing on the meeting of needs (pull) with voluntary, freedom-of-choice offers (push), called GIFTegrity, which can create self-stabilizing structures, such as what we see in synergic science, for the new gift economy.
According to Wilken, members of a GIFTegrity community operate as both a giftor and giftee, voicing their needs while also fulfilling others’ by offering themselves in a way that best suits their passions, talents, and skills. Every offering made by the giftor is done so completely voluntarily, and the giftee likewise exercises full freedom when accepting any offers presented. At this point, for the exchange to proceed, clarifications can be made and agreements arranged so that each party is satisfied. Once completed, both giftor and giftee can make comments and leave feedback, and the system keeps record of the giving/receiving. All modes of participation factor into the members’ reputation and contribute to the trust and good standing one has within the community, thus establishing transparent, non-coercive circles of reciprocity driven by free-will fundamentals upheld in gratitude.
What I have independently envisioned is a similar platform for exchange, called Village, which opens up a space for people to make their needs known, as well as their offers, and provides a portal for the sharing of resources (access), gifting of knowledge, time, and work, and transacting with our Value in a multitude of ways. All will be streamlined through the forming of circles and the use of a gratitude currency, Vectorance, which will work together to facilitate a social synergy banking on participation, trust, and intent within communities, localities, and beyond.
So, we’ve cast a light on the home as being ground-zero for the gift-economy chrysalis, cultivated literally in the household and individually at the personal zero-point. Wherever we find family, do we not experience joy in giving freely between members? Do we not “write off” favors because we know our generosity is met with gratitude and our needs in turn will be provided? What, then, are the limits to our notions of family? What would happen if the household dynamic were expanded to encompass a group of homes, a neighborhood, a city, a country, or the world?
For collective purpose to reach a unity threshold of any size, preliminary harmonious freewill factors must first be realized. Voluntarism takes precedent, and in the absolute sense, individual purpose requires discovery by way of a joy driven consent and agreements founded in gratitude. It is by the holding of this space that the roles in a community bud, and a group identity blossoms. Thus a powerful pillar is created in the local economy. At this stage, Village becomes immensely useful.
The activation of collective intent is essentially the formation of a circle, which radiates to the broader community a message stating, “here we are, partake in our offerings, assist in our vision,” and invites cross-pollination of resources which strengthens the whole. Not limited to the intentional household, a circle can be any gathering of two or more individuals, around a project, a shared interest, a family, or a business, and can extend fully to include groupings of multiple circles. When this is done effectively, each circle may be thought of as a specialized room in one big house, utilizing the resources already present within our communities.
One or more homes may function as the pantry or the kitchen, sourcing food and supplies that can give back to the community. Another home or two may prefer to serve as a social hub and gathering place, like a shared living room for recreation, music, and arts. Another, the classroom/study, providing a focused program for alternative community-supported learning. Another, the backyard, where growing and permaculture systems take root. And the list goes on–workshops, studios, garages, tool libraries, offices, etc. Everything we need already exists–it’s only a matter of how willing we are to contribute our Value and resources in a way which serves the highest good and brings the most joy. And the more the merrier!
In the coming chapters, I will be further detailing the mechanics and design considerations I have developed toward the realization of this vision. I truly believe that by developing the proper tools, unifying in purpose, and reinforcing the shift through collective action, we can pioneer a new economy to replace the collapsing slavery system of money, domination, and control with gratitude, transparency, and trust.
 Kuokkanen, Rauna. The Gift As a Worldview in Indigenous Thought (http://www.gift-economy.com/athanor/athanor_006.html)
 Eisenstein, Charles (2011). Sacred Economics (http://sacred-economics.com/read-online/)
 Tellinger, Michael (2005). Slave Species of god (http://www.slavespecies.com/)
 Sacha Stone is the founder of Humanitad and the New Earth Project, a pioneering planetary initiative and sovereignty movement intending to demarcate a line-in-the-sand between humanity and over-reaching big-government. (http://www.new-earth-project.org/)
Quoted from an interview broadcasted via The One People show on Blogtalk Radio. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thecollectiveimagination/2013/11/12/the-one-people-1112-nov-2013-1). Starting around 36:50, quote coming after 44:33.
 Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day worldwide — Lappé, Collins, Rossit, Esparza (1998). World Hunger: 12 Myths
 Harper, Douglas (2001-2013). Online Etymology Dictionary (http://etymonline.com/)
 Johansen, Thomas Kjeller (2004), Plato's Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias
 Wilken, Timothy (2002). Ortegrity: Bridge to a Synergic Future (http://www.synearth.net/Restricted-Confidential/OT.pdf)