Why Poverty?


Earlier this week I landed on the Arte TV-channel here in Germany that had dedicated that day’s programmes to the theme ‘Why Poverty?’ Having studied economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, I guess I could answer this question using economic theories and would probably come up with some kind of an accepted answer. But watching young Chinese adults reluctantly engaging in a struggle for survival, either by trying to get accepted by some top university (thereby ruining their family’s monetary reserves to cover for the cost) or by trying to find whatever job that is available amidst countless competitors, made me sick. And those are considered the lucky ones.

Continue reading “Why Poverty?”


Money and the illusion of separation

Drowning in never enough money


I talked about Charles Eisenstein and his book Sacred Economics in my previous blog (www.sacred-economics.com). Now, I’d like to address another phenomenon enhanced by money: separation. It starts with a view that everything in the universe which you don’t recognise as ‘you’ is separate and hence alien. At best you and it are indifferent about each other but chances are that you, as a human being, see it as something to be afraid of, something hostile. And that asks for control. But how can we control nature? We do impact it but can we control it? When you don’t feel part of the universe, part of nature, you may see it as things, or ‘a bunch of stuff’ as Charles Eisenstein labels it in this video (http://youtu.be/EEZkQv25uEs). It becomes a bunch of stuff you can get hold of, process it and then sell it back to the people to whom it belonged in the first place, leaving you with more money than before. And with that money you can buy stuff. I find it interesting that renting out storage space has become a market of its own, at least in the US and in several European countries. We buy so much stuff that we can no longer store it in our homes. I like to believe that most products we buy, are not bought because of their functional qualities but as a kind of sedation. An attempt to lift the loneliness and void our money driven lives have given us. Who was it that said: ‘the best things in life most of the time are not things?’. How can a bag cost several thousands of dollars or euros? And hold the stuff it’s supposed to hold indescribably better than a, let’s say two hundred dollar bag would? Of course I’m aware of the underlying psychological patterns of the buyers. But really: a 10cm square cm strip of leather with a Luis Vuitton ring to it should cost over a hundred euro’s? I’m wondering if anybody has researched the sustainability of the psychological well-being of a person as the result of owning exorbitantly expensive luxury goods, that can be produced at only a fraction more of what it costs to produce commodities. And commodities are what most of the things  are that we use in the first place. Or is there anyone out there believing he’s the only one with an iPhone? Of course I’m not saying we should move to a state controlled plan-economy where everything we can buy is of poor quality, not sufficient in quantity and as standard as it gets. The point is that I believe (and agree with Charles Eisenstein) that we have come to the point that we’re reaching the end of economic growth as we have been taught to have it. And hence a different, arguably far more limited role of money is required. I predict that the focus on human needs will grow. To experience meaningfulness, significance and hence get out of the money game. How much more stuff do we need to have in order to feel happy? Fulfilled? Satiated? What is finally enough? Of course the emerging economies around the world provide the last profitable stretches in this dead-end street. Indeed this was mentioned in my first novel (www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome)  I lost track of how much coca cola the average chinese is drinking, how much Cartier and Rolex watches they own  and how much Mercedes, Porsches, Beamers and Ferrari’s have been sold more to China than last year? More expensive stuff won’t fill the void. More expensive stuff doesn’t feel the rather basic human needs of wanting to feel fulfilled by deploying our talents where they’re needed and where they make sense. Naturally, without being forced to serve whose ever bottom line.

It is time we start seeing and experiencing the connection again. It is time we leave the money game behind us and enter the human game, which is played on a global scale with fairness and access to the planet’s richness for all. Charles Eisenstein refers to this as the coming of age ordeal. Now it’s time to individually and collectively reconnect to our purpose and direct the deployment of our unique talents exactly in that direction.

All love and blessings,



It’s all about the money


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,



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,



The captains and the sinking ship?

Riots in Greece
Riots in Greece


Yesterday my friend Mark Walsh posted an interesting question on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/KNy73P)

“So I want to ask a hard question of myself and all my coach, trainer and facilitator friends ahead of the Wisdom 2.0 Business conference.  Are we really transforming a sick system or are we just giving new terror-tools to the world’s biggest bullies?”

It triggered quite some comments and it took my thoughts to what is going on around the world and especially in Europe at this moment. I have commented on it in the preface of my novel ‘The Glass Dome’ (www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome ) as well.

The entire Eurozone is still struggling with the debt crisis, which has turned into a political crisis as well. Several countries face changes in their political management (like France last weekend) in relative stability (like Holland where new elections are due in September) or in outright chaos (Greece where a new government is unlikely to be formed and hence new elections will need to take place). These events do not help to bring security and stability to the fiscal and rescue packages that have been agreed upon. It seems that the Greek people are no longer willing to play along the old rules of the game (without having a clear concept of the new rules, by the way). Syriza, the coalition of radical leftist parties, make that very clear by stating that they won’t accept further government cuts and can’t pay back the debt. How long will it take before the people from Spain, Italy, France, Belgium or even Holland get to this stage?

Politicians no longer seem to be able to rally the majority of their constituents around a common theme. In countries where traditionally governments are based on coalitions, it has become increasingly difficult (and in some instances impossible) to arrive at a coalition with a majority in parliament so laws can be passed. In previous blogs as well in ‘The Glass Dome’ I’ve touched upon this. To me it is clear that we are entering a new era that will lead to a radically different way of treating each other and the planet. At some point in time, our societies will look different around the globe. A few keywords: freedom, transparency, connectedness. personal destiny. But we’re far from that. Somehow I choose to believe that this transformation is not going to be a smooth ride. Established parties will try to cling to the positions they have built up over the last centuries. They will try to sell or enforce their practices as best practices for the uncharted waters we are heading towards. (Automatically this famous Einstein quote about finding solutions from a different domain than where the problems originated from comes to mind). There’s power involved which will not be given up easily. It is the old one-for-all-paradigm derailing and therewith demonstrating its darkest sides through human action. I never thought the transformation would be a mere academic exercise but the venom is rapidly spreading it seems.

Is this (the start of) the inevitable universal creative planet-wide destruction preceding another phase of creation? Has the moment come that institutional Europe is falling to pieces? Is the ship sinking? Is there anything we would want the captains to do? What can we all do in order to facilitate the inevitable transformation in a way that it becomes less bumpy? Even it is only a bit less bumpy, much suffering would be prevented and many lives would be saved.

Interesting times ahead. Curious to hear what you think.

Love, Geert

There’s something about the word ‘Leader’

The Leader on top of other people?


This may be a cultural thing and therefore I may be attaching too much value too it. But there’s something that strikes me about the self promoting guru’s in whatever field. They all seemingly find it incredibly important to continuously state that they work with Leaders. Not just with anybody, no they work with leaders. Never mention ordinary folks, nope it’s about leaders. I’m not so sure that they understand what they communicate with that. Of course there’s more than a fair chance that they try to say that whatever it is they want to say, is something that is appealing to leaders. Which leads to them thinking that being amongst leaders makes them a leader too. So they’re amongst like-minded people and other friends now.

As I said, attaching importance to the word ‘leader’ may be a cultural thing, especially pertaining to the US culture. But I can’t help thinking when I read about some guru claiming to bring leaders together (as if…) : what’s the shouting all about? Why do you need so speak in such a loud tone to make yourself heard? What does that tell me about your message? That there are two kinds of people on the planet? Leaders and losers? That there is a distinction between leaders and the rest, which makes the leaders better people? That it is not true that all is one? That it is not true that everything in the universe is connected? That your worldview is still that of the pyramid: one at the top telling all the others what to do (and all the others should listen to that person, fit in, adapt to the context never mind what their unique contribution may be)? Those days are gone as can be read from a previous blog: http://bit.ly/rOWtzk What does it tell me about you, the person from which the message originates? How self-confident are you? To what extent to do believe what you are preaching? To what extent are you your message? To what extent can you really identify yourself with your message?

So in as much as they’re trying to preach a message of love and unity, in actual fact they’re communicating rivalry, distinction and them being better than all the others. Exclusiveness as opposed to inclusiveness. And that makes me sad…… Of course, this too is just a mere transitory phase in the development of mankind but still…. What kind of transformation is required to move to the next phase? And what will that look like? Any thoughts on your end you want to share?