you know i often hear forrest gump in my head. “i may not be a smart man, but i know what love is.” this economic moment has been crystallizing that phrase to me. i’ve been thinking a lot about what love is, and what it is not. in the face of the fall of wall street, the fall of our mega-corporate banking systems and the crumbling of the faith of american people in false wealth, it seems imperative to point towards the light, to remind ourselves how to love. problem is, the actual situation we’re in is so murky to the masses that we feel collectively stupid and angry, and we have contracted our love muscles. now i have always had a difficult time understanding the american economy, because it all seems made up. for a long time, money had to be associated with gold, a tangible resource that the paper money represented. i would argue that seeds or water should be seen as more valuable than gold (when stranded on a desert planet), but whatever, at least that made some sense. when you spent money to buy something you were literally giving them a certificate for some gold. that was already a delightful bit of imagination, since for most folks you were never gonna see your gold, just believe in it. but we’re a country of faith, aren’t we? that said, the majority of resources that move now are too intangible to me – promises, ideas, stuff we print and trade and sell. there’s no real gold, seed, or land behind it. people live their lives dreaming of their perfect home – physical and spiritual – where they will have everything they need and be able to take care of their loved ones, where others will know them and think well of them. and it’s literally people’s dreams and perceptions that fund our economy. one peek behind the curtain shows us the fat wizards laughing at us, clicking away on our yellow brick roads. i’ve often felt like the kid on the side pointing out that the empire has no money. the wizards succeeded in creating something real, and its called a recession. all the charts i have seen show that it could be the longest recession we’ve ever experienced. our dependence on credit and debt makes it hard to feel this yet. we keep stacking up that paper that’s tied to nothing, that debt that accumulates like body fat, easy to gain, hard to lose. our response to the naughty wizards was a bailout. taxpayers didn’t decide to prioritize AIG bonuses over our retirement funds, our mortgages, our employment and health care, our kids schools; those who allowed the situation to come into being developed a solution that doesn’t actually change anything. but we did turn to corporate restorative solutions to stabilize an irrational system. and this is the question we should be asking ourselves…do we want to restore a system that does not love us? do we want to restore a system that does not value human life and the power of relationship and community? you know my answer is a big hell no. from an action perspective, i think its time for massive public spankings, and guerilla solutions. there is another way already emerging, i’m thinking of it as the new-old, (a specific economic component of the Great Turning). tons of people my age are out of work, and are turning to each other, cooking with and for each other, turning their roofs into secret gardens. single income homes are becoming multi-generational homes. we have all done this before, every people on the planet have ancestral experience (and many have current experience) of getting by as a community. this isn’t to say we shouldn’t fight for our monetary resources. wall street has stolen the shoes we saved up our whole lives to buy, they stole them before we got to wear them, and now they are dancing in them, scuffing the soles. there is a day of action that has come to my attention (thanks Miguel) called Take Back The Economy. there are actions happening all over the country on March 19th – check it out and get involved! there’s another day of action April 11 (thanks Kat!) called a New Way Forward which i am learning more about and will keep you posted. i am looking for folks interested in engaging in this fight! at the same time as we protest, we must remember there is another way to demonstrate our desire for an alternative. that is, we know a way to be barefoot and happy. and now we have technology to link us together in ever larger networks of skill and shared value, to supplement the knowledge we may not have, to show us what to grow, when, where, how; to teach us about jobs we could do that would feed our families and replenish our home planet. we’ve been right all along that vast inequality leads to no good end, so this is a time to rejoice in the better elements of our humanity, and to understand the thinking of wall street as something akin to gills…a survival mechanism for a world we’ve evolved past. let’s stop trying to run backwards through time – let’s walk on our two feet, with dignity, in community, towards the next phase of history.
What’s the New-Old?
By Adrienne Maree Brown Mar 17, 2009