January 14, 2014 | Posted in Commentary | By

How do we bring about the more just and compassionate society we long for in the New Year?
How do we remain centered, effective and positive in the presence of the many challenges we face?
How do we move towards a closer alignment with our values in all aspects of our lives?
How do we cultivate our personal resilience, kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity?

These are the questions I am pondering at the beginning of this year as I contemplate the best way to be an effective participant in the Great Turning – the shift in society and all its institutions necessary to bring about a socially just, environmentally sounds and spiritually fulfilling human presence on planet Earth.

I recognize that some might question the need for such a broad context for Essential Knowledge for Transition – a series of talks and resources on the money and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and healthier alternatives thereof. Yet, after presenting this material on 35 occasions to communities of engaged citizens in 2013 I realized that acquiring an understanding of those systems can be emotionally challenging and that such knowledge can only be transformed into social change if at the same time we engage in a personal transformation.

Maybe the theme for 2014 could be integration referring to both the need to integrate the work of personal and societal transformation and also the need to integrate our personal spiritual and moral values with all aspects of our life, including the economic, investing and livelihood choices we make.

The fact that Pope Francis has been speaking about economics (see quote below) indicates to me that the time has come for such integration.

In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule (Pope Francis)

The concept of integration also relates to the need to understand our existential interconnectedness, what Thich Nhat Hanh calls it our interbeing with all members of society and the natural world.

This recent TED talk, which was never published on the TED website because considered too controversial, presents such interconnected view of our economy and leads Nick Hanauer – a multi-millionaire, to call for higher taxes on the rich for the benefit of all.

Nick Hanauer – “Rich People don’t Create Jobs”

Professor Richard Wolff in the first 10′ of his recent Economic Update  also highlights the importance of an integrated understanding of our economic system.

Let’s take inspiration for our engagement with the world from these words by Albert Einstein:

A human being is part of the whole – the universe. We experience thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of love and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

 

Marco came to the US as a Fulbright scholar in mathematics and economics at the University of California in Berkeley. After a stint in the financial industry, Marco worked as visual artist on a full-time basis for 5 years and obtained a MFA focusing on the intersection between public art and ecology. He later worked for 6 years managing investment equity portfolios primarily on behalf of large foundations and endowments. In April 2009 Marco left the finance industry and has since been instrumental in the formation and development of the Slow Money Northern California chapter. He is sharing his experience doing direct Slow Money investments with communities around the country to help them increase their capacity for local investing. Marco is currently developing Essential Knowledge for Transition – a curriculum for engaged citizens to understand the money and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and how we need to transform them.

3 Comments

  1. Larry Horowitz
    February 19, 2014

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    Marco,

    Thanks for an excellent FINANCE FOR TRANSITION presentation today. Well done.

    I’m wondering if there is any potential for a Transition ETF or mutual fund that could invest in truly sustainable local companies. The ETF/mutual fund/closed end fund model could allow individuals to invest in a balanced portfolio of locally socially conscious while increasing liquidity and providing capital for companies in rural areas that cannot raise funds locally.

    Again, thanks for your time this afternoon.

    Best,
    Larry
    Bellingham, WA

  2. Erica
    March 2, 2014

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    Thank you for this post. I also see that any change on the outside has to be accompanied by a change on the inside if it is to be lasting and meaningful and not just a horizontal change of some kind. For example, to have the courage to move one’s money away from traditional investments, one has to do some personal work to not give up or run in fear. I watched the Ted Talk you recommended and passed it on to my brother who writes about this issues who will enjoy it. I;m grateful to you and others for leading this work.

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