We humans are always striving for more. And we’re really successful at it. But now we need to be conscious about how we direct this talent. Our current economic system defines us as consumers. It’s built around convincing us to consume more. But you and I know this is not all of who we are. We also love and learn and share. We create and communicate. We innovate and collaborate. What if we built an economic system that encouraged more of these qualities instead? How do we rethink our economy?
Luckily we have wisdom we can draw from. We tend to think our own way of doing things is the way it’s done, the only way to do it. But we humans are amazingly inventive. We’ve created all kinds of systems.
Treasure all people
There are Native American tribes where the first priority is to take care of those who can’t provide for themselves. When the hunters return with the game, the first portion goes to the elders, the widows and the orphans. Then the rest is divided among the community members. The Makah offer a real-live coronavirus example of this. They’ve completely shut off the reservation to protect the elders, the source of their wisdom.
What would our economic system look like if we built in more compassion? What if we first took care of those facing hardship? Perhaps we would examine and dismantle the structures that are causing the hardship in the first place.
Restore what’s depleted
We’ve built a system that extracts resources from the earth to produce the goods we consume. But what if we built a system that focused on more stewardship instead? What would we need to do to replenish the vitality of our soil? To replant the forests? To clean up our rivers and oceans and air? Our current economy is a linear model: extract, produce, consume, dispose. How do we rethink this and transition to a circular model where we restore what we take?
This is why I’m so determined to eradicate the invasive species on our property. I’m very aware that just about everything I do involves consuming—washing my hands for 20 seconds takes water. But by removing the blackberries, I’m helping restore the natural balance of the ecosystem here. It’s one way of giving back.
When we emerge from our homes, we will be urged to buy and spend to get the economy going. And yes, we absolutely need to support our local businesses and create jobs. But let’s also remember the rest of who we are and remember to love and learn and share. Let’s notice how we are creating and communicating. Let’s acknowledge each other for innovating and collaborating.
How do we rethink our economy and build better systems for ourselves? What are your ideas for how we can steward more, nurture more and restore more? How do we become more of who we truly are?