I’m just wondering

Hey!

I’m just wondering these days as I read about politicians and civil servants, doing their best to erode the system they are depending on, if they are actually aware about what they’re doing. Or is it that they just play a predetermined role as puppets on a string or as pawns in an ancient Greek drama? I find it rather funny (well, is that really the word here) to see how supposedly grown-ups around the world are fighting to be the leader (ahem) of the pack and regardless whether they succeed in becoming so, the least they will do is to secure their own private interests. Sometimes by securing the economic future of an entire family dynasty, sometimes far more petty by claiming a few euros too many for their expenses. But also, like right now in Holland, by putting together a coalition agreement after the elections without having properly thought it through. And then, in an act of utmost disrespect for parliament (and all of society for that matter) kind of toss it over the fence in order for it to be discussed in parliament. (where the majority belongs to those parties having put the agreement together, so guess what the outcome of the discussions will be) To me it makes the case that we’re basically done with the old-fashioned way our institutions are run. (Umair Haque wrote an interesting post about it as well: http://bit.ly/PIZdeh) How long do they think we’re going to put up with that nonsense? How long are we still going to?

It seems to fit a larger picture as we’re moving into a new era. A new era that will eventually be characterised by global consciousness, people living their life, to which they’re called, in individual freedom, with a sense of belonging (and contributing) to a local or regional community. So it is clear that in this society there is no need for the malfunctioning institutions of our day. There’s this dialogue in my novel ‘The Glass Dome’ (http://www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome) between the elderly Italian gentleman Romano and Peter Woudenberg, the main character following an accident Peter had been involved in. They talk about the upcoming changes.

“Do you have any idea what is awaiting us?” Peter wanted to know.

“As I said before, current structures and practises will fall apart and new ones of a different nature will emerge. I believe that the secrecy, which has governed us for a long time will subside in order for transparency and openness to prevail.”

“What would happen if the way forward would not be taken? For instance because the current establishment manages to stay in power.”

Romano smiled and continued in his characteristic calm way.

“It just won’t be possible.”

“That’s what you hope,” Peter countered.

“It’s what I hope and also what I choose to believe to be true,” he sighed, seemingly getting somewhat agitated.

“A critical mass is growing around the world, bringing this energy to the tipping point. I’m not saying we’re there yet but for me it’s clear that a growing number of people are questioning the way they live their lives.”

“Isn’t that a bit of a luxury?”

“At face value it may seem a luxury. But what I see is that they want to have a meaningful and fulfilling life based on their calling or personal destiny. Your unique identity and personal destiny form a totally different driver for human evolution than a supposed need for endlessly fulfilling material desires do. Amongst others because it leads to us viewing our individual existence as non-conflicting with that of all others.”

“So what you’re trying to say is that when more people start living, how shall I put it, their authentical life, human life on the planet will start changing because of that,” Peter rephrased.

“That’s a way of putting it,” Romano reflected. “But of course, first parties on all sides will take up their positions and fight each other about this until the bitter end. Therewith only helping the process of de-institutionalising or disintegrating the current system to speed up.”

So yeah, I choose to believe that our society as we know it has begun to change in a radical way. Its very roots will change.  Interesting to see how the institutions get help from the inside in being dismantled and interesting to see what comes in their place as some coordination of us living together seems desirable.  And also: what institutions will be affected by it….. Any thoughts?

Love & Blessings,

Geert

www.geerthofman.com

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It’s all about the money

Hi!

As you probably know by now. I’m quite fascinated (and terrified from time to time as well) by the transformation of mankind and our consciousness which I choose to believe we are facing. Recently I came across the works of Charles Eisenstein (http://charleseisenstein.net) and more in particular his latest book Sacred Economics (http://charleseisenstein.net/books/sacred-economics/) Although I have some idea of how the “new world” would eventually look like, I am looking for clues as to how exactly we’ll get there. It’s clear to me that many of our current practices and institutions will no longer have an added value as they are grounded in an era that is coming to an end. I also found that I like talking about the transformation with both like and not-like minded but that it stays on a somewhat abstract academic level, suggesting that it’ll happen but we won’t notice it that much. Well, by now I’ve started to feel that we’ll notice it very clearly. All of us, as it is inevitable that our current practices, which include a certain way of thinking about ourselves, the world we live in, how we relate to that, our economy etc, will come to an end. Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics depicts a scenario of how it, or part of it, will come to this end.

The main point he makes is that our economy is driven by money and it is based on interest carrying debt, which necessitates perpetual growth. This has led our society to become (almost completely) monetized, which in its turn forms a natural limit to the possibilities for further economic growth. The system in his view: Banks create money in the form of interest bearing debt. In order to pay back the money a bank lends you (plus interest), you have to make more money. And banks will lend money to those who give them more in return. That’s called a solid business proposition. They won’t give money to people who don’t give it back to them because they would use it to clean up a piece of wasteland for instance. There’s no money in that.

From an individual viewpoint, making more money than you borrowed from the bank, may boil down to working a few extra hours to get some more work done, to find some more clients and/or to change something about what you’re offering (innovation). Nothing wrong with that, it’s how our parents got started and probably their parents as well. But from an aggregated standpoint it means that, as more money needs to be paid back than was borrowed (because of the interest), economic growth continuously needs to be realised. The easy way would be to just increase the price of the offering. But that’s called inflation and will not bring economic growth. So growth is realised by finding new markets for existing products and services and by inventing new products and services. Eventually, this has led to almost everything in our society being monetized. And everybody competing with everybody for scarce money. Our governments like that as they want everybody to engage in paid work as it increases the GDP and their budgets via a.o. sales, profit and labour taxes. But if everybody should be engaged in paid work (either as an employee or self-employed): what are they going to produce? What services and products are left that we need to become available at a price? What more of the commons can be taken away and resold to us? The rotation of the earth? Sunshine? Rain? The air that we breathe?

To me it’s clear that the current crises won’t go away and that they contribute to the money-based system coming to an end. I’m not saying that money will cease to exist altogether but that it can’t go on just like this. According to Eisenstein, a possible alternative for our current economic thinking is the concept of the Gift Economy. I’m not saying it provides the rough-and-ready answer to each and every problem around the world but I think the concept as such is worthwhile to think it over.  Here’s a short video where Charles talks about Sacred Economics and the Gift Economy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEZkQv25uEs

Of course, even trying to move away from our current practices and systems is anything but a smooth ride as I touched upon in my novel as well. (www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome) There are so many parties having so many vested interests in maintaining the status quo.  In another video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JKOcb3UygA) of a conversation between international economist, James Quilligan and Charles Eisenstein, Quilligan makes a very interesting point: everything in our current economic system revolves around money. Hence, suggesting it’s time for something else would involve such a radical systemic transformation that makes clear to me that it is extremely unlikely to happen in a gradual process. The old rules are becoming obsolete but new rules are not in place yet. As a practical experiment I asked the employee in the local baker’s shop today under what conditions I could get my bread without paying money. ‘For free?’ she asked. ‘No, not for free,’ I answered. I might offer something else in return, perhaps even just my gratitude. That was, understandably, too much for her and she ended the conversation laughingly by saying her boss would fire her if she start giving bread away for free. A clear point that de-monetizing our society requires a total systemic approach as there are soooo many strings attached. Or some kind of violent upheaval.

So, to sum it up (there’s more to come), what I find fascinating about Charles Eistenstein’s work is that he shows one of the main causes for our current endemic crises and a way towards our new world.

What are your thoughts about this? Let us know, OK?

All Love and Blessings,

Geert

www.geerthofman.com

Another shooting….

Good day,

So we had yet another shooting…… A bit more than two weeks after the Aurora shooting, roughly a year after the Oslo carnage (to which the picture above relates). And in spite of the controversy in the US around the question if people should (be allowed to) carry weapons and around the prevalence of violence in TV-series, films and video-games it’s fair to say that the US don’t have the monopoly on violence amongst civilians or of civilians against state institutions. Nor does violence always involve the use of fire arms. In the preface to my novel ‘The Glass Dome’ (www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome) I pointed at a series of events which took place early 2011. As I suggested by then (August 2011) I was sure that it wasn’t over yet. On the contrary. And it goes to show: earlier this week the town hall in my place of birth (Waalre, The Netherlands) was set fire to during the night by driving two previously stolen cars into the building. The town hall has been destroyed and until now no one has the slightest idea who is responsible for this and what their motives are. Mind you: Waalre has some 16,000 inhabitants and how I remember it, it has nothing of a metropolitan dimension. Just a peaceful quiet little town. Until a few days ago, that is.

So it seems that everybody’s tolerance towards everybody else is getting to an absolute low. Engaging in traffic increasingly involves violent interactions between people as I can read in the papers each day. Going out for a drink often meets with violence. It seems we want to have it our way and our way only and without any delay. Gratification must be immediate, require no further creative engagement on our end (other than to thoughtlessly consume it) and seems to be aimed at dulling the senses rather than providing an uplifting experience aimed at attaining a more refined state of consciousness for instance.

In my blog of Feb 1st I introduced 4 levels of interaction (https://geerthofman.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/on-human-interaction-four-levels/) when we are faced with a situation:

  • the drama
  • the facts & figures
  • the different options for reacting
  • what wants to make itself shown?

To stick with the last question: I choose to believe that as mankind we’re facing the transition to a radically new era with radically new ways of viewing ourselves, all others, the world we live in and radically new ways of treating each other and our world. It seems to me that our current institutions and structures in all areas of our world are rapidly becoming obsolete. Without having meaningful alternatives in place yet, our future looks very unstable and insecure with all of us looking for something to hold on to. Clearly, saying our farewell to the old era, to the paradigm all of us alive have been brought up with and to various degrees gotten used to, is causing fear and anxiety. And clearly this transition needs to take place with lots of turmoil, violence and unrest.

But why exactly?

I’m wondering what we could do, collectively, to make the transition smoother, much more peaceful. Is it possible at all? I know it won’t help those who have died on the Aurora massacre. Or in the Oslo carnage. Or Alphen (Netherlands) shooting in May 2011. Or in the Winnenden (Germany) killings in 2009. Or in the Columbine shooting. And so on.

What I really would like to know from all of you: Is there anything each of us and therewith all of us could do to prevent further outbursts of this raging violence? To prevent us from injuring and killing our fellow-men? Ruining the lives of those who are left behind? Which is not limited to victims of shootings but it would include everything that we just know is not right but fail to make it right up until today. It’s clear this requires a radical overhaul of our current thinking and practices and the solutions are going to be systemic. It’s not just telling people not to carry guns. Or to punish those who do carry one. It’s about changing everything that has led to our non-productive practices. From education to nutrition. From (health-)care to the distribution of our abundance. Since the solution does not involve just an incremental change from where we are now, I’m not looking at our self-proclaimed leaders who have been brought forward by the current system. Both presidential candidates in the US could not demonstrate this more clearly as they carefully avoid mentioning the possibility of banning fire arms from being held by civilians. They feel they have to think about their constituent lobbies in order to get (re-)elected. Furthermore they are as much part of the drama as most of us and can contribute as much to the transition as all of us.

So, really, what is it that you and me can start doing as of today? Help me, please?

Love and Blessings,

Geert

www.geerthofman.com

About changing the game

Heya,

In addition to today’s blog: check out this great short film by Charles Eisenstein: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEZkQv25uEs

In very clear terms he explains why the current game (the money game ) is going to falter, why it will take several more severe crises and what could take its place. I would call this the Human Game and I like his concept of the gift economy. Do watch the video, I highly recommend it!

Love and Blessings,

Geert

They haven’t got a clue…..

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struggling with the Eurocrisis
German Chancellor Angela Merkel struggling with the Eurocrisis

Yesterday I watched part of the budget discussions in the German Parliament (Bundestag). In various, emotional arguments the different parties presented their differing solutions to the current eurocrisis. They all agreed on one thing: the current government, lead by Angela Merkel, is doing it all wrong. Of course they haven’t got a clue either but at least they can pretend they do as their plans will not be testes in practice. Then there are those who want to cut Europe’s budget and others (European Commission) who actually want to increase it. And let’s not forget the fierce debate about how much power each country should transfer to Brussels. Two days ago I heard a director of the Dutch central bank say what my economics teacher had told me already back in 1976: ‘you young folk need to be financially self-sufficient as it is far from sure that there will be money for you when you want or need to retire.’ The central-bank director literally said that people should pay off their mortgages faster than planned and save more money. Which is interesting in itself of course: reduce your household spending budget dramatically, no matter what, so you may have some money later on (Oh no, I’m not going to talk about where they should store that money. At some to-be-bailed-out-bank?) So money is running out in Europe (and the US) and no one has a clue where the billions in support flowed to.

I trust that you get it: the picture is far from unambiguous and the politicians are trying really hard to come up with a solution. Or better: THE solution for all of us. But given how they tick (not rocking the boat, trying to maintain the status quo, pleasing well established and well organised stakeholders) by definition it’s impossible for them to come up with what the situation requires. They’re too immersed in the game to be able to see what wants to happen. What it doesn’t require is extrapolating best practices from the past as I choose to believe the game is changing. And I mean the nature of it. Radically changing. There’ll be no need for colossal states trying to control everything that goes on within their jurisdiction. In a previous blog, I kinda touched upon this as well (https://geerthofman.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/how-politics-help/) The big institutions will crumble and they’ll get help from the inside.  And I’ve mentioned in other blogs as well that this ‘one-for-all’- concept has had its day. What we are going to get is a global society, whose inhabitants share a global consciousness, in freedom. We’re gonna be free individuals who stick together as we’ll finally realise we’re all connected. We’re in this together.  And yes, as we can see: the ride is already bumpy. It would be great if we get to a tipping point in the number of people that are willing to take a step back and look at what wants to happen so that it can be facilitated rather than denied and fought. And it looks that we’re gonna find the way forward together and not contract that part out to our politicians. If we are going to be free, we’d better be prepared to take on the responsibility that belongs to it as well. So in a way, we will get involved in dealing with politics or politicians, as “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato (427-347 BC)” And: Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. Pericles (430 B.C.)” One for the road: What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. Edward Langley, Artist (1928 – 1995).

Oh, and the confusion does not only take place at the political level. More about that next time.

Love and blessings,

 

Geert

 

www.geerthofman.com