An essay on financial crises opens as follows:
“What is mankind’s greatest invention? Ask people this question and they are likely to pick familiar technologies such as printing or electricity. They are unlikely to suggest an innovation that is just as significant: the financial contract. Widely disliked and often considered grubby, it has nonetheless played an indispensable role in human development for at least 7,000 years.
At its core, finance does just two simple things. It can act as an economic time machine, helping savers transport today’s surplus income into the future, or giving borrowers access to future earnings now. It can also act as a safety net, insuring against floods, fires or illness. By providing these two kinds of service, a well-tuned financial system smooths away life’s sharpest ups and downs, making an uncertain world more predictable. In addition, as investors seek out people and companies with the best ideas, finance acts as an engine of growth.
Yet finance can also terrorise. When bubbles burst and markets crash, plans paved years into the future can be destroyed. As the impact of the crisis of 2008 subsides, leaving its legacy of unemployment and debt, it is worth asking if the right things are being done to support what is good about finance, and to remove what is poisonous.”
Coming off the heels of my blog article last week ‘On Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Grace’, and trying to grapple with the local crime situation, the regional reparation and disenfranchisement issues, and the global climate change and sovereign debt crises, I am coming to appreciate another form of contract that was gifted to us which is crying out to be rediscovered. This contract or covenant can be seen as a special one that is unlimited in its scope and its benefits, and is available to all of us, if we so choose. It complements mankind’s “greatest” invention and is the unseen “big elephant” in the room.
Like finance, it does two simple things, plus more. It acts as a time machine of the past, and a safety net of the present and the future, in that the distilled wisdom of the life-supporting systems within our bodies, among our communities and in our environment can be studied and tapped to help create a more wholesome and healthy world. The fruits of finance over the past 7000 years pales in comparison to the fruits of Nature. This is testified by the billions of years of “research and development” reincarnated over and over again by the unconditional Love bestowed on us by the cells and organs of our bodies, our families and our communities, nurtured and sheltered by the the four basic elements of earth, wind, water and fire. Even more remarkable is the fact that we live in a zero-waste biosphere embedded within a sustainable solar system, galaxy, and supercluster of galaxies which all work harmoniously with each other, testifying to the efficiency and resilience of our universe, as we stand in awe and wonder at the diversity and interconnectedness of it all.
What troubles me immensely is that the fruits of our financial system threaten to corrupt and liquidate the fruits of Nature – the entire earth, its communities and the life supporting and protection systems in its wake. Given the exponential growth of our man-made systems devoid of the checks and balances that abound in nature, our financial contracts in the guise of secret trade deals – TTP, TTIP, and TiSA, are threatening to hasten and catapult mankind and our evolutionary cousins to extinction, and in the process these negotiations behind closed doors are oblivious to the potential damage they would be causing to the wellbeing of the people they are designed to serve and also that of the planet.
I am now wondering how this trajectory can be reversed before it is too late? Do we have in our midst an instrument, financial or otherwise, that would be able to guide us back on the path that is more creative and less destructive, that puts the least among us first and not the greatest, that is free and accessible to all and has the power to transform us at lightening speed at both the individual and the collective level? This instrument must be able to talk truth to power, be able to forgive unconditionally, and reconcile all of our differences!! The currency of this instrument must also be something that is not man-made and arbitrary to serve the whims and fancies of the powers-that-be, but natural and written in the hearts of every sentient being! This instrument would become activated to sing beautiful melodies and usher in great dividends when we each experience and become mindful and grateful for the uniqueness and interconnectedness of all things!
I am convinced that the instrument I am looking for is none other than Divine Grace itself!!! Come to think of it, it was the Amazing Grace which had also transformed every fibre of Jesus’ being when he walked the earth, when he healed the sick and comforted the dispossessed, when he challenged the “wisdom” teachers of his time, be they the Scribes or Pharisees, and when he was executed for challenging the establishments, be they religious or political, on account of the defiant single act of driving the moneychangers out of the temple in Jerusalem. I am convinced that when Jesus taught about God’s Kingdom here on earth, his vision was not of another time or another place, but of a political and economic reality right there and right then.
His calming of a storm between the two banks of the Jordan river where the currents may have been turbulent with the booms and busts of the wind and the waves may have symbolised the state of economic and political affairs for his time and now ours. His feeding of a multitude after coming ashore with five loaves and two fishes brings to mind the 100 dollar conundrum where 500 dollars in debt were repaid with a virtual 100 dollar bill.
His Last Supper utterances of sharing the bread and wine in memory of his works and teachings, and his Last Words to us before he died, of “Father, Forgive them for they know not what they do,” provide hope for me and I hope for the world, that God’s Grace and Love, which Jesus was attuned to is still ever-present, and ready and able to guide us through the travails of our lives today. How can this be? Let me explain.
For me, his Last Supper and Last Words to us, are symbolic of Grace’s instrumental role in the workings of the Universe. They both symbolise the processes of birth, death and regeneration. If we take bread for example, it first takes in the elements of earth, air, water and fire (photosynthesis) to grow into wheat. Then with the blade we kill the wheat in its harvesting. The wheat is crushed and with yeast, a new breath of life begins again with elements of the earth, air, water and fire (fermentation) at which time the dough rises. After a certain time, the dough is baked, killing the yeast in the process, at which time bread is born. And finally along with the other fruits and vegetables of the earth, water, air (oxygen), and fire (respiration), we are nourished to grow and develop, and then eventually die. Every Sunday during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, this is what I ponder and what I meditate on. The body and blood of Christ now represents the birth, death and regeneration/resurrection of Christ in us, as he serves as a model of who we can become, if we so desire. But there is more!!
For me, the transition from loaves and fishes, to bread and wine in the Gospels is very telling. The fish comes from the river between two banks and can go with or against the current stream, but wine starts out as grapes which were traditionally grown around the houses in home gardens with lots of tendering. The tripartite motif of producing bread is still in play except that we now replace wheat with grapes, and the alcohol in the fermentation process is not boiled off as in bread but is the essence of the wine that is savoured after the distillation process. Having read Raine Eisler’s ‘The Chalice and the Blade’, I am left wondering if Jesus was encouraging us to embrace both the feminine and masculine nature of our humanity in a partnership model, in contradistinction to the domination model that was prevalent in Jesus’s time and still persists in our time up to today. Maybe Jesus was trying to tell us in preparation for his death, not to despair; that Divine Grace is all about birth, death and regeneration, a circle and cycle of life and love; and that this Divine Grace will continue to be that quintessential instrument that is able to allow us individually and collectively to be born again, if we so chose; by the divine acts of seeking and enabling an open and truthful environment, as we reconcile our differences, by empathising with each other and connecting through love, and acknowledging our imperfections and vulnerabilities by forgiving ourselves and the other when we and they do err.
These revelations are opening up the amazing possibility that our Universe is Conscious and Alive and even may have predated the creation of matter itself, going against the conventional man-made fabricated wisdom that matter predated the origin of life which in turn predated the origin of consciousness. Amazingly, the new interpretation of our best scientific theory has the same tripartite birth, death and regeneration motif. The Big bang can be seen as a first generation star (White Hole) from which all matter was created. The condensation of the gases initially produced a second generation star, a supernova that collapsed and exploded and eventually seeded our solar system to settle down again and energise our planet as a third generation star (our Sun) which we know will also “die” when it exhausts its hydrogen fuel one day.
It is this Amazing Consilience of both our best scientific and spiritual narratives that are the tell-tale signs of Divine Grace working in the heart of our universe and in each of our own hearts. There is so much we have taken for granted, that it is NOW time we become more mindful of what we have inherited from the beginning of time, as we become born again as we champion all our human rights, fight for social justice and enact laws that protect the bosom of our sustenance – Mother Earth.
We no longer have to listen to one or the other instrument, as both financial and spiritual instruments can play together in the same symphony. What is needed is to guide our laws and financial covenants as they make beautiful music together to create as Charles Eisenstein had envisioned, a Sacred Economics, and we co-create with the help of Divine Grace The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. We can now fly our spaceship Earth more responsibly on two engines, using our spiritual and economic time machines, and our spiritual and economic safety nets, one that has been gifted to us unconditionally, and the other of our own making which we should design and steward more responsibly.
I will leave you with some quotes to ponder and meditate on as we take our spiritual and economic heritage less for granted and become more mindful of our roles as responsible stewards of our bodies, our communities and once and for all, for one and all, the biosphere.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
– Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)
“Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”
Look what happens
with a love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.”
“We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life. What we do with our lives is our gift back.” ― Edo
“Perhaps someday we won’t need money to have a gift economy on the scale of billions of humans; perhaps the money I shall describe in this book is transitional. I am not a “primitivist” who advocates the abandonment of civilization, of technology and culture, of the gifts that make us human. I foresee rather the restoration of humanity to a sacred estate, bearing all the wholeness and harmony with nature of the hunter-gatherer time, but at a higher level of organization. I foresee the fulfillment, and not the abdication, of the gifts of hand and mind that make us human.” – Charles Eisenstein
The 100 Dollar Conundrum
Reproduced from: http://blog.theamericanmonk.com/100-dollar-conundrum/ (Link is no longer active)
“A visiting tourist drives through a really small town, stops at a small motel, and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs to pick one for the night.As soon as he walks upstairs, the motel owner grabs the $100 bill and runs next door and gives the $100 to the butcher to pay his debt.Now that the butcher has been paid he takes the $100 and runs down the street to pay the $100 to the rancher who supplies his meat.The rancher takes the $100 and heads off to pay his head cowhand who he owes $100 to.The cowhand owes his sister money and so takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to his sister who is staying at the motel.His sister takes the money and rushes to the motel and pays the motel owner who she owned $100 to.The motel owner then places the $100 back on the counter so the tourist will not suspect anything.At that moment the tourist comes down the stairs, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, picks up the $100 bill and leaves.The motel owner got $100 from the sister, the butcher got $100 from the motel owner, the rancher got $100 from the butcher, the cowhand got $100 from the rancher, and the sister of the cowhand got $100 from the cowhand. $500 was collected and paid out and everyone was paid and is happy.No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looks to the future with a lot more optimism…“