It just so happened that, the day before the gathering on Earth Rights/Education with Polly Higgins at Embercombe, Charles Eisenstein was speaking in Totnes on his ideas and book, Sacred Economics. Not only that, Kanada who was helping with the Earth Rights gathering lives in Totnes and offered to put me up for the night. So, a great opportunity to gather a harvest from the man who inspired me to get involved in the Occupy movement (see Evolving Thoughts).
There was a funny juxtaposition in that the man who was talking about “Sacred Economics” was doing it in a church and, because of a banner placed on the floor, the only place he could speak from where he could be seen by everyone was up on the pulpit.
He spoke with conviction and passion and, better still, with clarity of vision.
He said economics is about the relationship of giving and receiving. The “sacred” element refers to the experience we have all had at moments in our life, whether with our partner, or in Nature, which is that this is the way life is meant to be. However, the experience of the “real world” pulls us out of this experience. Why? Because that experience exists in the collective, we can’t stay in it if the collective agreements are that the world is one based on a story of separation and where money is not sacred.
He spoke of 2 defining myths or collective agreements, those which are our current answers to the deep questions of why we are here, what is our purpose; stories that need to change from the root up.
In the “Story of the Self”, it is said we are each of us a discrete individual, separate from everyone else. Even in standard religious terms, a person is a soul encased in flesh, separate from other souls. Thus, our interests are inherently in conflict. More for me is less for you.
In the “Story of the People”, it is said that we can leave Nature behind and conquer our limitations, the story of the Ascent of Humanity.
Money is not sacred because the story we inhabit is of money being a force of compromise. It does not connect our gifts and needs, which is what sacred money would do. Instead it encourages the opposite, a separation of our gifts from the fulfilment of our needs. The “New Story”is one which connects our gifts with our values and needs.
How do we do that? He spoke about the concept of “negative interest”. By analogy he spoke about a person who has lots of grain, more than will fulfil his needs. That person is more likely to share his grain than hoard onto it, as he knows that it will decay if he doesn’t, so sharing allows the grain to be productively used and also creates the bond of relationship. The difference with money is that, in our current creation of it, it does not decay.
Although I had been intellectually following his argument about “Negative interest”, it was when he said that Negative Interest is money that decays which suddenly grabbed my heart, settled into deep understanding. He is talking about creating a system of money which follows the natural rhythms of decay, one based on Natural Laws rather than the “old story” of moving away from Nature in order to conquer it. I now see a connection between what he is trying to do and my own heart’s calling, a way of moving to a governance system based on Natural Law (see Healing:Outer Work).
At the end I managed to ask him a question. I told him about the gathering on Earth Rights with Polly Higgins I was facilitating, and I asked him if there was one thing he would want me to take to that gathering what would that be. He said “The Earth is suffering because we are all in pain.” It is a good answer, one I feel honoured to take to the gathering.