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.”

Lua must have felt that this would be a good time to share some islandy wisdom with us. 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
Settle down, slow your pace; simplify 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, struggling 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 'islandy' trends on the mainland.

 

The old institutions of a greedy centralizing extractive money economy are slowly dying and being replaced by emerging institutions of a regenerative, distributed living economy that respects the regeneration rate of natural resources and the ethics of sustainable and just practices. 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 Peer, Open Source, Degrowth, Slow Food, Seed Freedom, Buen Vivir, and Canada’s Leap Manifesto are gaining momentum. Many good things are happening at the local level including: 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. And many other interesting developments 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 mainland 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 better about the future.

Homo Economicus

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​© 2020 Rich 'Rico' Leon