Love is Simple. (the ‘Sharing Economy’)

“When we start substituting sharing for buying, fascinating changes –disruptions, opportunities, and maybe even climate benefits– can follow.” –Scott Rosenberg

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As is fairly obvious, the capitalist economy is a system of growth.  The circuit of capital accumulation has to grow to keep turning.  When the system can no longer grow in one area, it has to reach out around the rest of the world.  This, better known as the process of ‘globalization’, leads to the exploitation of land, resources, labour, and new markets around the globe.  It increases inequalities between rich and poor, and uses up ever more natural resources to feed the ever-growing system.  Running a system of infinite growth on a planet of finite resources and labour will clearly not be possible forever, and it has been the cause of all of our global environmental (climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, etc.) and global poverty issues to date.  But what if we co-operated instead of competed?  What if we were to share and reuse instead of buy up and waste?

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People in our society are under the impression that their money is theirs; that they earned it and no one should take it away from them.  When tax dollars appear to be ‘wasted’, they fly into a rage and blame others.  People often don’t want to give to charities or to the homeless because they think that people will only ‘waste it’.  Well, define waste?  If giving money that you have in surplus and don’t need will alleviate another person’s suffering, another group of people’s suffering, or help care for the environment –even in a small way– is that a waste?  If giving money will put a smile on the face of someone who otherwise will spend a lonely and cold day on the street; if it will bring them some happiness, some moments of relief from an otherwise painful and inhuman existence, is that a waste?  We have been trained to measure value and waste in a strict money-based analysis of costs and benefits.  Is there no value in the human experience; in the feeling of joy for helping others, in the sense of responsibility for caring for the world we live in?  Is it not a bigger waste for that money to just sit in an already comfortable person’s bank account, to be hoarded or to be used on things they don’t truly need anyway?

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We live in a society of false needs and false wants, where people are convinced they need more, more, more.  The barometer for success itself is having more.  But this is not systematically possible for everyone in society, especially in a system based on growth and waste.  This divides us –rich from poor, individual from individual– in bitter competition.  This makes us unable to address the greater social and environmental problems that we face in the world.  Individual action can’t solve the ecological and social crises that we are in.  Individual consumer choices (buying energy efficient or ‘green products’, for example) won’t make a dent in the long run, because we aren’t challenging the system of consumption and the mentality of individual greed that permeates our existence.  We need to unite to address global issues together, and we can’t do that if people are afraid to share.  We can’t do that if people are afraid to give up some of what they already have for the good of the whole society and the planet, instead of just the good of themselves and their immediate families.

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Compassion is a skill.  It must be actively cultivated and practiced, and so must the mindfulness that material possessions are meaningless; they aren’t real.  There is no “mine”, nothing that each of us deserve besides the right to live a happy and respectable life.  Some of the hardest working people on the planet don’t earn as much as some of those who work one comfortable job, so there is no real measure of ‘work’ that would mean that any person deserves more or less than others.  We all deserve happiness, and we all have a lot that we can more than easily share.

Don’t be afraid; it’s only love.  Love is simple. –Akron/Family

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One Comment on “Love is Simple. (the ‘Sharing Economy’)”

  1. daveclark955 January 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    So true!

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