A Capital Idea Part 67: If Only They Could Hear
While I was on a long drive Thursday to a popular fishing and vacation spot in Southern California, Big Bear Lake -- the main road there was washed out in torrential rains in December -- I found to my surprise that I was able to listen to the radio almost all the way there, although the area is very mountainous and remote from radio stations. Eventually I had a profound sense of wonder, a familiar sense that I have when I think of the nature of reality. How is it that all of these signals are travelling through the air, yet we would never even know that were it not for radio transceivers? What else is there in our midst of which we are unaware? The Shakespeare quote "there are more things in heaven and earth than we could even dream of" came to my mind.
Furthermore, when I think of our senses, I have to marvel. How is it that vibrations of air molecules become sound, or photons of light become vision, for example? At the same time, these marvelous senses are very limited. There is so much out there, and all around us, of which we are unaware. Perhaps angels are speaking to us but we cannot hear them.
Then, I thought of the human-constructed world of culture, the one about which I have been writing in terms of economics and politics. Is it really so different from the fact that our senses can only detect certain signals? I think not, except that we have the ability to detect different signals if we only learn to think differently, whereas, detecting signals which our senses are unequipped for either requires a fortunate mutation, or the invention of equipment capable of transceiving such signals. In terms of economics, and money, we have constructed such a forceful world that it traps us, puts us into imaginary thought boxes which most of us cannot find our way out of. It deafens us to the signals around us. The messages are all there if only they could hear them, but most people remain unable to. Opening up people's minds so that they can hear the messages our world is sending us about the nature of economics, is on its most fundamental level, what this series of posts is about. If only people could hear what nature is telling us, they would no longer carry on with the system as they do -- no, not even the wealthy among us -- for it is a system of intractable limitations which is coming to an abrupt and nasty end -- on a histortical time frame -- if we don't do anything about it, and a quieter, kinder, gentler transition if we do, a transition which will serve humanity well in its cultural evolution.
Let us open our minds to the fact that the economy is like an ecology at its core, so should be constructed like one, and should be built to work with our earth's actual ecosystem.
Let us open our minds to the fact that the economy should serve the people, and not the other way around, and thus, the economy should have a moral basis, not an endless profit basis.
Let us open our minds to the fact that true freedom for the people, individually and collectively, requires education, equality and democracy. When we are not treated equally in the eyes of the law, we do not have true democracy. The corrupting power of money to create a privileged class at the expense of the rest is antidemocratic, anti-equality, anti-education, and anti-freedom. They are all connected, for as one of my favorite authors, John Muir wrote, "When we try to pick out any one thing, we find it is connected to everything else in the Universe."
What we are really talking about here is a paradigm shift in terms of our economic and political thinking, one that is essential to our future wellbeing, perhaps even our survival as a species. Shifting our personal economic beliefs to accomodate this new paradigm will allow us to hear the messages that are already being screamed at us by nature. This process has already begun as millions upon millions of future oriented, ordinary people have begun to consider our economic future and the changes we must make in order for us -- and because of that the economy, not vice versa -- to continue to grow and thrive as a people. Here's to the future!