Connections

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The Moneyless Tribe has debanded, at least until the end of the winter.  I’m disappointed.  When it was still a possibility, I felt I had a sense of purpose.  Something to aim for.

Now that it’s gone for the time being, I feel very adrift.  And alone.

Maybe I’m also partly relieved, as I wasn’t sure if I would be ready to embrace a totally moneyless lifestyle.  I still have some things to work through on my own.  Don’t want to just jump into another lifestyle philosophy unless I know for certain that it’s suited for me.  Unless it’s springing from the inner recesses of my being, not just something I’m trying to augment on to myself in order to quench of my existential dread.

Lately, it’s been hard to write blog posts.  I’m starting to feel a little like I’m exploiting my life, my spiritual experiences.  I constantly agonize over what I should write about and what should be kept private.  I also question my motivations.   “Why am I doing this?  Is it to entertain?  Educate?  Do I just want attention?”

The truth is, I check my visitor stats a lot.  “OOOHH!  X number of people visited me to day.  And Y number of people found me through Facebook.  Guess I’d better keep promoting my posts there.”  “What?  How come no one came by today?  I did a Facebook post, I fucking  tweeted about it. Where the hell is everybody?”

And who is this “everybody”?  Do I see them as actual people?  How can I?  They’re just statistics in my mind.  Maybe I see the words they write in the comment section, maybe a gravatar image…but ultimately, in my mind, aren’t they simply indicators of how popular I am – like they’re my audience or a fan base?

Jesus, my Facebook page IS a fan page.

The reason this is all bothering me is that I constantly sound off – to myself, anyways – about how disconnected our society is from the natural world and from each other.  I was beginning to see how money prevented me from actually forming real relationships with people.  As long as I can pay people to do things for me, and vice versa, I don’t need to be real towards them or even like them.  I just need to show up with money and I’m good.   In contrast, human communities that don’t use money – which seem to be few and far between – measure their wealth by the quality of their relationships, because relationships are how one’s individual needs are met.

From Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Manifesto:

I babysat my friend’s kid recently. She was stuck and I was free, so I was happy to look after little Elijah for a few hours. We went to the park, we did some painting, he kicked my ass at a game called animal memory; we had fun. Imagine the difference in experience – for my friend, Elijah and myself – if she had put him in paid childcare instead. She would probably have felt a little guilty, leaving him in the care of strangers, for whom Elijah may have been just another face; she also would have undoubtedly felt a little isolated, not having the support of a community she could depend on. It certainly would have cost her money (which she would have had to work extra hours at her job to pay for, meaning yet more need for paid childcare). Elijah wouldn’t have felt as comfortable, spending his time with people with whom he didn’t have an ongoing, trusting relationship, and he wouldn’t have been able to spend the time outdoors, playing in his neighbourhood. And I wouldn’t have spent my morning remembering that three year olds can teach us much about the beauty of the world. What’s more, by entering into that spirit and understanding of mutual dependency, all three of us got to strengthen our relationships to each other – relationships which reinforce and affirm that spirit. Next time I’m in a jam, those relationships will kick in and let me know that I’ve got a friend who will support me.

The conversion of those relationships into paid services – a process which is encroaching into more and more aspects of our lives – leads to the destruction of communities, just as the translation of our natural wealth into ‘resources’ to be exploited leads to the destruction of our ecosystems. To pay for something, to assign a value to it, is to quantify it. It becomes just another number, its uniqueness and relationships and interdependence with all other things swept aside. It is not a five hundred year old tree, provider of food, shade, shelter and soil structure, but £10,000 worth of wood products; she is not a person needing care, with her own hopes, dreams, desires, sorrows, joys and circumstances, she is a ‘client’, or ‘service user’ – costing the taxpayer £30,000 a year. We do not see things for what they are, we see them for what they’re financially worth. Price tags blind us to real worth. In seeing childcare only in terms of money, we lose a wonderful chance to learn from, support and nourish each other; in seeing a forest only in terms of money, we will eventually lose the ability to live on this planet – and prevent countless others from doing so too.

Charles Eisenstein, in The Ascent of Humanity, sums it up nicely: “We find in our culture a loneliness and hunger for authenticity that may well be unsurpassed in history. We try to ‘build community’, not realising that mere intention is not enough when separation is built into the very social and physical infrastructure of our society. To the extent that this infrastructure is intact in our lives, we will never experience community.”(13) In Sacred Economics he adds that “community is not some add-on to our other needs, not a separate ingredient for happiness along with food, shelter, music, touch, intellectual stimulation, and other forms of physical and spiritual nourishment. Community arises from the meeting of those needs. There is no community possible among a people who do not need each other.”With money, especially in a globalised economy, we certainly do not need each other (emphasis added).

What I’m finding is that I use this blog as a measurement of self-worth.  Each visitor is a single unit of currency, and the more people who visit and respond, the better I feel.  And since I’m blogging about my life, I’m beginning to frame my life in terms of how it will affect the blog, which seems to be  a steady descent into the same abyss that money often creates.  If I only see my life in terms of how I can use it to drive traffic to my blog, I’m devaluing my life.  And if I see people as nothing more than potential subscribers, I’m devaluing them.

It makes me wonder if I’d still blog if I belonged to a living, vibrant community –  one that recognized and respected the delicate web of relationships that make up life on Earth.

Maybe that’s why I talk to the spirits now more than ever before.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been turning more towards animism.  Trading in these connections…

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…for these connections.

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So my alienation no longer looks like this…

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..but like this.

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“The Folly of Empire”

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“The final days of empire give ample employment and power to the feckless, the insane and the idiotic. These politicians and court propagandists, hired to be the public faces on the sinking ship, mask the real work of the crew, which is systematically robbing the passengers as the vessel goes down. The mandarins of power stand in the wheelhouse barking ridiculous orders and seeing how fast they can gun the engines. They fight like children over the ship’s wheel as the vessel heads full speed into a giant ice field. They wander the decks giving pompous speeches. They shout that the SS America is the greatest ship ever built. They insist that it has the most advanced technology and embodies the highest virtues. And then, with abrupt and unexpected fury, down we will go into the frigid waters.

For the full article by Chris Hedges, click here.

The Nature of Prayer

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Suelo is a guy whose blog I’ve been following for quite a while.  He wrote the following about prayer:

A funny thing happened. We had been getting dumpster food the whole way, eating very luxuriously & extravagantly & healthily. But one day we were jonesing for snacks. Denise said we should think about something that’s more healthy this time, since there’s such an abundance of bad junk food. So I said the first thing that popped into my mind: “Garden of Eaten Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, maybe with salsa.” We kind of laughed, because it was so specific and I wasn’t sure why that brand specifically came to mind. About 20 minutes later we hit a dumpster in a small Idaho town. Right on top of all the food was a sealed bag of Garden of Eaten Blue Corn Tortilla chips. And all around it was an abundance of food, including salsa and packets of vegan chili and tomatoes & other vegetables. Funny thing, I’ve never found blue corn chips in any dumpster before, much less that brand.

Denise and I then talked about prayer and manifestation. The odd thing about prayer is that you don’t decide something and pray for it. You tap into what already is and state it. Or, rather, what already is taps into you. You simply submit to the will of the universe and decide that whatever comes is good. You simply state what is. But it appears to folks around you that you are commanding God to give you something, when in actuality you are simply stating what already is destined to be. You are submitting to God, God isn’t submitting to you. God isn’t a genie in a bottle, and nothing is to be forced and nothing to be desired. But as time goes you realize that in the greater picture you and God are one – one will. True prayer is a statement of the splendor of What Is, not desire of what will be. Give us this day our daily bread. No worry of tomorrow’s bread.

Word.

“The Lesson of the Holocaust…”

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“The lesson of the Holocaust is the facility with which people, put into a situation that does not contain a good choice, or renders such a good choice very costly, argue themselves away from the issue of moral duty (or fail to argue themselves towards it), adopting instead the precepts of rational interest and self-preservation.  In a system where rationality and ethics point in opposite directions, humanity is the main loser.  Evil can do its dirty work, hoping that most people most of the time will refrain from doing rash, reckless things–and resisting evil is rash and reckless.  Evil needs neither enthusiastic followers nor an applauding audience–the instinct of self-preservation will do, encouraged by the comforting thought that it is not my turn yet, thank God: by lying low, I can still escape.”  — Zygmunt Bauman