It is that time of the year and the leaders of 7 industrialised countries get together to address the world situation. What an opportunity to deal with inequality, the climate crisis, the trade wars, gender discrimination, racism, the refugees crisis, regulate multinationals, tax havens and banks, stop unbridled speculation, promote access to healthcare, education, housing, services. (Sigh)
But none of that will happen, the meeting is all about reinforcing the system that accumulates more and more wealth for those at the top. There will be benign declarations and promises about the most pressing problems but nothing will change.
In front of such cruelty it is important to try to understand what stops some people from accessing their capacity for solidarity and compassion. We can call them psychopaths, not as a diagnosis but as an insult, but that won’t help us understand, or ultimately change the present state of affairs.
We live in the times of “the Myth of Money” in which most of the population has been thoroughly conditioned to believe that money can be the only reward for work, the only measure of a person’s worth, the only indicator of how the country is doing, the only thing that can build up self-esteem and make us strong to compete with others for more money.
And the more entrenched this belief system has become in a person, the more ruthlessly they will apply themselves to maintaining it. It is a form of being in a kind of hypnotic fascination, sleepwalking through life apparently awake but taken over by this massive illusion masquerading as opinion, philosophy, commitment, plan of action and meaning in life.
Money talks and it speaks English
With an accent from Wall Street
Empty of meaning giant tyrant
god-like puppet with clay feet.
Not only those at the top suffer this illusion. The problem is precisely that the majority of the population carry the same Myth and so they are likely to elect people who promise them wealth, shooting themselves in the foot for not realising they are lying. We have seen time and again the most draconian austerity governments being put into power by the poorest of the population. We would call them the populist right but without the Myth of Money people would be able to look elsewhere.
Not everyone gets hypnotised and this is the great thing about humans, no matter how monolithic and pervasive a belief system there are always people who find themselves wondering about the alternatives. Because Intentionality builds an understanding of the world out of many bits of information, many experiences. And these dissidents from the mainstream (often considered crackpots or misfits, certainly people who don’t fit in) become the kernel of new alternative proposals, as we see today in those who reject both neoliberalism and the growing fascism, promoting instead compassion and solidarity not only in interpersonal relationships but as a system in itself.
How such system could look like? Instead of money being the only reward for work, a Universal Basic Income could deal with all the needs of the population so that they can choose what to do freely and with gusto. Instead of the only measure of a person’s worth, people would be appreciated for their creativity, joint work, contribution to common projects, research into the great unknowns of human existence for which there is not time now, busy as we are with paying the mortgage. Instead of the only indicator of how the country is doing, there are already those who are proposing to replace the GDP with a measure of the well being of the population. Instead of the only thing that can build up self-esteem it is well known that this is strongest when people feel well integrated and cared for by their community and when communication highlights the virtues of individuals rather than being mostly critical. Also, in a world where competition is replaced by cooperation there is no need to prove who can make more money. And bring on the machines to do the mindless heavy work!
But extricating oneself from such a strong and almost universal belief in Money might not be so easy for everyone. As George Monbiot says in his TED talk, the story, the narrative (the Myth) has to be replaced by a new one. So, what can we believe in that will be the launchpad for a new state of affaires that respond to the real needs of humanity?
This is the time Revolution of Consciousness, when people are learning to discover the amazing hidden treasures that dwell in the profound spaces of their own minds. Through various forms of meditation, through different practices, through the awareness that treating others as we would like to be treated gives us inner unity and a sense of growth, through creating new ways to build up Commons, through participating in the great inspiration of young social movements, through rejecting mechanical responses and choosing intentional ones that open the future, the new story, the new narrative is coming alive. It is the great awakening of the human being, conscious of their experiences and the effects of those experiences on their whole being.
A new humanism is being born out of the power of simultaneous transformation of individuals and society, at the core of the methodology of Active Nonviolence.
It is easy to get distracted by the antics of the “psychopathic” politicians, after all they create huge smokescreens with bizarre declarations and actions that keep the corporate media well fed with unsettling “news”, lest people manage a glimpse of what is really going on.
But those who enthusiastically and joyfully accept the undertaking of awakening themselves in the company of others doing the same will no longer be diverted from the path towards a new and humanised world.