The Never-Ending Battle for Truth, Justice and A Natural-Law Economy
Money is a toxic waste to which our entire global civilization is deeply addicted. Money pollutes our relationships, our values, our institutions and our lives. The root cause of most of the major problems facing modern humanity is our monetary addiction. Money is the most addictive substance on the planet and the most deadly. Every person who uses money is addicted. Money enables all other addictions. Recently, Peter Joseph stated in an interview for his new series "Culture in Decline" that there are two major laws governing our monetary system. One, "You are free to do whatever you want as long as you have money to do it." Two, "We ...define freedom as the freedom to do anything we want with money." The result is our modern free market capitalist monetary-market system. What is usually not recognized within this system is that money is a totally imaginary construct. No other species on the planet needs or uses money. Money is an institutionalization of our relational value system with one another. It is the accepted method of defining my relationship to you. It defines the acceptable limits of behavior.
The deep addiction we have to money is readily evident to anyone who has ever had to try and survive within our civilization without enough money. Directly or indirectly, we require money to provide us with all the basic necessities of life. Daily all around the world, many die needlessly, not because what they need to sustain life is unavailable, but because it is unavailable to them without access to money. This creates a massive incentive for everyone to pursue money. This incentive is what drives the endless cycle of marketing and consumption that fuels the unsustainable economic growth that is decimating the finite resources of our planet. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat are polluted because of money. Our jails are full because money addicted "criminals" break laws designed to protect monetary interests. Houses stand empty while the homeless live on the streets because of a lack of money. Most bankruptcies occur because people cannot meet the monetary demands of our healthcare system, not because they are reckless with their spending. What choice do they have??? Our schools don't teach their students about the natural world in which we live, but instead focus primarily on preparing them to go out into the world with the ability to compete for money. All too often, this education comes at a huge cost, creating a debt that ensures the student's future life will be deeply focused on earning money, often to the exclusion of all else. Our governments attempt to address the problems within our society by using money. They raise taxes and they pass budgets. How effective can they be, when they are using the toxic waste that is creating the problems to try and solve them? It is like throwing gasoline on a fire. What kind of life have we created for ourselves over an imaginary creation that generates an endless game of global monopoly?
We are so deeply addicted to money, that everyone has a nearly impossible time trying to imagine what our world would be like without money. If you had a relatively healthy childhood, certainly something that is not guaranteed within our monetary system, then you were probably raised within a family that didn't require its members to exchange money in order to be housed, clothed and fed. Of course, a family represents a small bubble within an ocean requiring the constant exchange of money. The family as a whole cannot survive within our civilization without access to money. This is the same problem we face if we try to set up a community within the greater society that seeks to function without the necessity of monetary exchange. The polluting influence of money is unavoidable. A value shift within the greater society is an absolutely necessary first step if we are ever to move beyond a system requiring monetary exchange. This seems to most an impossible task, so that even those whose dreams bring them this far in considering how we might end poverty, homelessness, crime, injustice and bring peace to this troubled world, abandon those dreams to the reality of living within a society that believes in money. I often despair when I ponder our addiction.
But I don't believe in money. I believe in people. I believe it is possible to better my relationship with anyone. Of course, relationships are two sided, so I can only adjust my attitudes, my values toward our relationship. But by doing that, our relationship is changed. A healthy relationship can only be based on a mutual respect for each others' needs. A relationship based only on money is inherently unjust and rarely meets everyone's needs. What I do believe about money, is that if we don't find a way to move beyond it, the collapse of our modern monetary-market system is inevitable. Any inherently unjust system will eventually self destruct. The value system that we use to maintain the status quo is unsustainable at the most fundamental level. We don't know how the Earth will respond to the environmental abuses to which we have subjected her, but we do know that our quality of life is beginning to suffer greatly and our society is decaying rapidly toward self destruction. We are a society of human beings addicted and poisoned by money to the point of insanity. Whether or not you recognize it, we are not in competition with one another for survival, we are struggling to learn to cooperate and share for our mutual benefit and survival. This is the way of the natural world. It must also become our way.
Sharing and cooperation can only emerge in a society that values justice. Only the most naive fail to recognize that our modern global civilization is riddled with injustice. People often express this understanding by ignoring, tolerating, condoning or even perpetuating injustice themselves. This sense of pervasive injustice has become institutionalized within our social, political, religious and perhaps most tellingly, in our economic institutions. All of our expressed value systems incorporate this recognition of injustice and its pervasive nature. We identify with a particular social, political, religious or economic group because of the privilege it affords us. Our particular identity provides us certain protections and advantages against the injustices that prevail in the greater world where other groups protect their own advantages at our expense. Nationalism, racism, religious and political identifications and monetary classism are all expressions of self aggrandizement at the expense of others. Civilization is divided along the lines of injustice, and the most pervasive division is monetary.
Science recognizes that our relationship to the natural world is symbiotic, not adversarial. If we are to express this understanding in the institutions of our civilization, justice must become foundational within our institutions, not injustice. But how, in a global civilization riddled with injustice, can we as individuals begin to make a difference? The Zeitgeist Movement answer to this question is that we begin through a broad educational effort; education that leads to greater individual understandings and eventually to peaceful, active non-violent non-participation in unjust institutions on all levels, social, political, religious and especially, economic. Self education is the very first step. Through self education, we can begin to change our own values and our own side of the relationship equation. This is the beginning of a broader educational effort that reaches others. By becoming the change we want to see in the world, we begin to create that world. Peace and justice are possible, but not within a monetary society--not when anyone, anywhere in the world is demeaned, degraded, abused or dies because of imaginary, toxic, addictive money and the manner in which it shapes addicted behavior.
Gary Kent, another money junkie struggling to change.