It was a breakthrough when we discovered that when something is possible all we need to do is do it (no comparison to Nike intended). For us “doing it” meant taking away the barriers to moving forward, i.e. our stuff in life. When we reduced “the stuff” Life began showing up differently. We began perceiving life differently particularly in the areas of common good and in the arena of jobs and wealth.
Not long ago I realized why I get so upset when I hear Obama and others say that ” if we work hard we should be able to make it.” Every individual should be able to work hard and make it. Whatever “make it” means. I get upset because it is absolutely untrue that working hard is what brings success to people. I know people who work their butts off with 2 and 3 jobs and still can’t “make it.” There is little relationship between working hard and “making it”, at least financially.
“Making it” means earning a lot of money and being like rich people. Deifying the rich may be our most destructive illness in this country. It’s an illness that is inevitable in a society ruled by profit motive. Those that have not are marginalized.
I realized that the other side of working hard and making it is not working hard and not making it. If someone doesn’t make it, it must be because they did not work hard enough (those lazy bums). Also working must always be productive or else it is worthless, consequently if someone works hard and is unproductive what he does is not considered work. It is not even considered good. The value and rightness of an activity is judged by its monetary worth. All valuable things thus become commodities for sale or purchase. If I can’t buy it how do I know how much it is worth?
Healthcare is a commodity in this country. If I don’t have enough money to buy healthcare then I am an inferior quality human being. From this point of view there is no distinction between things made and things given to us by nature. Thus all our natural resources become commodities to be used up for profit. There is no inherent goodness in nature except what price it brings in the market place and the goal in the market place is to get as much money as possible for every sale. Even human need becomes a commodity for sale and profit. Food, water, health, shelter all become commodities. Where there is no profit they vanish. Naomi Klein describes in her new book “This Changes Everything” how this has worked in the world to create a mindset that rationalizes profit trumping human wellfare in every case. Presently we are at a choicepoint. Our choice is to look at economic models that are life positive or to proceed toward ending life on this planet as we know it. It appears that we are chosing the latter. Otherwise we as a country and as a world would be much more upset and radical about what we are doing and make sure that the life-giving mechanisms of our world are being protected.
One thing has become clear to me. We need to prepare to take care of ourselves. For me that also means creating structures that take care of everyone. The Villaging Project is an effort to point in that direction. As the climate shifts throughout the world we need to adapt our living to that which works for all of us. My next blog entry will explore this adaption and it has little to do with working hard to get ahead.