Investing and the Disappearance of the Sacred

I spent this weekend at the Bioneers conference and something shifted inside me. I understood at a deep level that the destruction of the natural ecosystems on which our survival depends, is rooted in the loss of our understanding of Nature as sacred. As Sufi scholar Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee mentioned during the panel on Spiritual Ecology: A Spiritual Response to the Ecological Crisis, indigenous cultures have retained the understanding of Nature as sacred while Western culture lost it at around 400AD, when monotheistic religions suppressed pagan earth-based religions, hence banishing the sacred from the Earth and relegating it to the heavens.

Nevertheless, many in our Western culture still seek connection with Nature as a way to nourish and uplift the spirit. Many intuitively understand that a walk through these woods can reinvigorate the body, mind and spirit.

How to Make the Debt Ceiling Obsolete

Money creation is a government function. Reversing the privatization of money creation will render the debt ceiling and government borrowing obsolete.

As I write, the US Congress is locked into a stalemate over the issue of raising the debt ceiling of the US Government. The issue of an ever increasing government debt forces us to lurch from one political crisis to the next. The current government shutdown and the looming default on US government debt are the handiwork of an irresponsible minority of ideologues in the House of Representatives using Congress’ power of the purse to subvert the democratic legislative process. They are undermining the very foundation of our democracy and endangering our economy. But, even in the absence of saboteurs in the very halls of Congress, the problem of an increasing level of government debt combined with a weak economy presents a very hard problem to solve, at least within the confines of conventional thinking.

First let’s look at the problem and then at the solution made available by some thinking outside the box.

What Would a Compassionate Society Look Like?

Compassion is an essentially human quality. If you doubt it, read the story below and see if you are able to remain unmoved by it[1].

“I rode to the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the front door. ‘Just a minute’ answered the frail elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause the door opened. A small woman in her nineties stood in front of me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillow-box hat. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked like no one had lived in it for years. The furniture were covered with sheets, there was no clock on the wall, no knickknacks or utensils anywhere. ‘Would you carry my bag to the car’ she said. I took her suitcase to the car and then return to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly across the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘Oh, it’s nothing’ I told her ‘I just try to treat my passenger as I wish my mother to be treated.’ ‘Oh, you are such a good man’ she responded. When we got to the cab she gave me an address and asked ‘Could you drive me through downtown?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it’s not the shortest way to go’ and she answered quickly ‘I don’t mind,’ she said, ‘I am in no hurry. I am on my way to a hospice.’ I looked in the rear view mirror and her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left.’ she continued in a soft voice ‘The doctor said I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. ‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked. For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she once worked as an elevator operator. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she danced as a girl. Sometimes she would ask me to slow down in front of a building or a corner and we would just sit staring into the darkness. At the first hint of the sun creasing the horizon she suddenly said ‘I am tired now. Let’s go.’ So we drove to the address she gave me. It was a low building – a convalescent home. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. ‘How much do you owe you?’ she asked reaching into her purse. ‘Oh, nothing.’ I said. ‘But you have to make a living’ she answered. ‘There are other passengers.’ I responded. Almost without thinking I bent and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly. ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy.’ She said. ‘Thank you.’ I squeezed her hand and walked into the morning light. Behind me a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I did not pick up any more passengers that day. I drove aimlessly lost in thoughts. For the rest of the day I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the longer route or honked and drove away? On a quick review I don’t think I have done anything more important in my life.”

While compassion is a universal human quality it does not seem to be expressed in our culture and in the functioning of our modern societies.