MY FIRST INTRODUCTION to Charles Eisenstein came through a 1-hour talk he gave to the Santa Fe Time Bank called Living in the Gift. His ideas resonated with me and helped me to understand how our money economy causes separation within our communities.
What intrigued me the most is the idea that money cuts ties between people; when a money transaction occurs, both parties walk away untethered, with no obligation to each other. This is where the breakdown of community happens. I can see this in my own life — when someone does something for me, I feel an obligation to pay them back, and the sooner I can do that the better I feel, like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders.
Charles talks about how in a gifting economy, this immediate “payback” doesn’t happen, and the payback might not even happen directly to the person who provided the good or service. Instead, the accountability occurs when the act of gifting is witnessed by the community, and the receiving party will pay the gift back within the community at some point. This is what ties the community together. In our money economy, we don’t want that tie to anybody; we just want to pay off our “debt” in the quickest way possible and be on our way.
In a gift society, if you have more than you need, you give it to somebody who needs it…that’s where security comes from, because if you build up all that gratitude people are going to take care of you, too. And if there are no gifts, there is no community, and we can see as society’s become more monetized that community has disappeared. People long for it but you can’t just have community as an add-on to a monetized life. You have to actually need each other. ~ Charles Eisenstein
Based on Charles’ book, filmmaker Ian Mackenzie created this short film as his way of providing a gift through talent, to help spread the message:
After reading Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics, which speaks eloquently about the return of the “gift economy”, I felt compelled to gift back. The best way I knew how was to use my filmmaking skills to share Charles’ work, and spread it to communities around the globe. His vision of “the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible” is the salve that so many of us need at this time, in the age of great transition. My hope is this film catalyzes those who work with passion and dedication to live this world right now.
About Sacred Economics
Excerpted from the video page:
Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth.
Today, these trends have reached their extreme — but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.
Read Sacred Economics
Following the premiere of the short film on March 1 at noon EST, a Q&A session will be held. You can attend or read about it here.
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Carlo is a Managing Editor at Matador and co-founder of Confronting Love. His new project, Toxic Masculinity and the Paradigm Shift, takes a hard look at detrimental societal norms. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He lives in Nelson, British Columbia.