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Toward A More Fulfilling Economy

Posted by on September 15, 2020 in Economy with 0 Comments

By Forrest Rivers

Otis and Savannah, a counterculture couple who are good friends of mine, were two of the untold millions who lost their jobs when the nationwide shutdowns began. Like most workers who filed for unemployment compensation during this time, the couple received uncharacteristically generous benefits (For America at least) that easily covered their basic household expenses. With ample time off and with their needs met, Otis and Savannah focused on becoming more independent from the economic system that they both see as excessively exploitive and, in their own words, “soul-crushing”. On her end, Savannah began producing her own herbal remedies and various creams from common medicinal plants and fungi found in the Southern Appalachian Mountains like Mullein and the Reishi mushroom. Otis, too, has been busy harvesting Cannabis for sale on the market. I have to confess that Otis’s cannabis is incredible!

The couple explained to me that they have sold and bartered their products on the local market and they expressed how much joy it has brought them to work for themselves, support their local economy and provide sustainably made and healthy goods for their community. Otis and Savannah’s uplifting story of declaring their economic independence from “the man”, has only grown in popularity during this period of crisis. Stories like theirs, represent an admission that our present-day economy is broken. 

Many other friends and acquaintances who I have spoken too during the pandemic, shared a similar desire as Otis and Savannah to break away from the system. Dylan and Mackenzie, another couple who are friends of mine, have taken liberty during COVID to begin working toward their dream of starting their own sustainable and organic farm. Others, I spoke as well, shared their dream of earning a living with their art and donating their time to humanitarian causes. Other individuals like Samuel, a beloved baby boomer friend and spiritual mentor of mine, intends to create an off the grid nature healing refuge on the large acreage that he and his wife purchased in New Hampshire. 

The connecting strand among the many inspiring souls I spoke too, is to find a deeper meaning in their lives. Significantly, all who shared their thoughts with me were highly aware of the fact that the way one earns their living must also bring meaning to their lives. This is not to say that our work should define us in the traditional way that we have been taught to believe. Rather, it is to say, that when our work is rooted in something more authentic than just punching away at the clock it becomes a reflection of our own state of emotional well-being. It also becomes a living statement of a new economic vision that makes us feel more hopeful and fulfilled.

Ironically, one of the greatest and unintended gifts from governments (during this crisis) is that the paid time away from our jobs have allowed many people to temporarily escape from the “rat race”. This time away has helped us dare to imagine a better way to re-align our work with a greater spiritual vision. For many, such a realignment means to actively participate in a small-scale economy where the meeting of one’s basic needs and those of our communities come before profit. It also means engaging in work that meaningfully contributes to the peaceful uplift of humanity. Finally, realigning one’s work with a greater spiritual vision also means engaging in labor that doesn’t leave a footprint on our beautiful green Earth. Rather than desecrate and exploit her, as our current economic system does to an appalling degree, we must honor and serve her through the work that we perform. 

If we have learned anything from the fallout of COVID-19, it is that our imaginations have no limit. So, let us all imagine a more constructive way of relating to both the Earth and one another through choosing wisely how we spend our time working. We can all make the conscious choice to opt-out of the current economic paradigm of “what can I get for me”, and instead promote sustainable alternatives that fill our lives with joy and a genuine love of community. When we do this, we all become conscientious resisters of a system that we all know in our hearts is a racket to protect the interests of the rich and powerful. 

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