Homo Economicus

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The Islander Knows

“But now, it’s true, the world is full,

and money games, have made you dull.”

“You mainlanders are caught in some strange collective trance in your obsession with moneya truly false god of value. It distorts your reality, limits your freedom, and will soon likely take you over an ecological and financial cliff. We, on the other hand, are deeply connected to Earth’s ever-evolving community of life. We see life moving, for its own deeply mysterious purpose, towards ever increasing awareness and beauty and complexity. We live every day with joy and wonder in our hearts at its full range of possibilities. We value our distinctiveness. We worship LIFE, not money, and measure our success in the health of our communities and the happiness and well-being of our citizens and families, not on the frequency of monetary exchange or the size of numbers in a bank account. For us, business is not about money; it’s about relationships and trustIt’s about belonging, not belongings. We nurture and protect our culture as the foundation for trust in our informal economy. Community, not things, brings happiness. I do not understand why self-described good and intelligent people would accept such a spiritually-impoverished, joyless economy.”

 

French philosopher Voltaire understood this phenomenon very well when he wrote, ‘It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.’

 

She followed up her last comment with an insightful song about the obviously obsolete growth-at-all-costs economic worldview of mainlanders from an islander's point of view. She strummed a few opening chords on her ukulele and sang to us:

 

There was a time, not long ago, when folks were few, and change was slow
The world a-filled, with Nature’s gifts, no reason then, for pause and thrift

But now, it’s true, the world is full, and money games, have made you dull
You burn too much, you move too fast, you grow, you spread, this cannot last

 

I islander, and this I know, there are bounds, to all that grows
There can be, a size just right, life can thrive, without a fight

I islander, and this I say, there can be, a better way
Earth and Mon, can get along, there’s still time, to right the wrong

 

My mainland friend, I tell you straight, your wasteful ways, will seal your fate
Your wants and needs, are not the same, your “Living Large,” a foolish game

My mainland friend, I tell you real, listen up, mon, here's the deal
Change your story, slow your pace; change your ways, or doom you face

I islander, and this I know, there are bounds, to all that grows
There can be, a size just right, life can thrive, without a fight

I islander, and this I say, there can be, a better way
Earth and Mon, can get along, there’s still time, to right the wrong

 

We were all quiet for a time after Lua finished her song, trying hard to see the world the way she did. Her way of thinking and living was so foreign to us. She then broke the heavy silence by excusing herself so that she could start preparing lunch for the group. Julie offered to help and got up to follow Lua to the galley.

 

Before she left us, Julie paused for a moment and told us that, as a long-time restaurant owner and community activist, she is beginning to see several encouraging trends.

 

The old institutions of an ugly extractive money economy are slowly dying and being replaced by emerging institutions of a regenerative living economy that respects the regeneration rate of natural resources.

 

Small family farms and farmers’ markets and locally owned, human-scale businesses are transforming communities and making them more self-reliant, resilient, prosperous, happier, and healthier.

 

Edge projects and networks such as BALLE, Transition Towns, Shareable, Peer to PeerOpen SourceDegrowthSlow FoodSeed FreedomBuen Vivir, and Canada’s Leap Manifesto are gaining real momentum.

 

Bike-friendly streets and walkable mixed-use urban places and communities, zero-waste local recycling systems, community-controlled wind and solar energy projects, local banks and credit unions — many good things are happening at the local level, and interesting changes are on the horizon.

 

Julie believed that re-localization projects may be our best — and perhaps our only — way forward from here as the overly complex, centralized, energy-and-materials intensive, infrastructure-heavy model of society and the economy on which we currently rely continues to crumble.

 

With those parting words, Julie left the group and we disbanded the all-hands-on-deck debate, feeling a little more hopeful and inspired.

Homo Economicus

Relational Liberty >

​© 2020 Rich 'Rico' Leon