coffee shop cartoons: ‘Tis the season

It’s that time of year: self-reflection, family drama, holiday shopping, oh my…

20131203-101014.jpg
I know, at least for me, the holidays sharply show how different my life is
From how I thought it would be.
But I love it nonetheless.
Not because it’s all there is, but because of how those moments defined by grace
Still make me smile and cry, all at once.

In My Wildest Economic Dreams…

1. Community service would be a tradable commodity.

2. Homelessness would not exist.

3. Health care would be free.

For the record, I consider myself a pragmatist, not an idealist. Pragmatically I know that, no matter how grand or modest the pursuit, both good and bad will result from it. There will always be unintended, unforeseeable consequences of systemic change, and there is never a point at which you can unequivocally step back and say, “Yes. We’re done. We’ve arrived.” Nevertheless, pursuing big ideas nets big impact, so my approach is to think big and dream big; go big or go home. Combined with diligent, dedicated work and incredibly creative strategies, big ideas are how systems start to change.

Our current economic system is floundering. Stagnant unemployment rates–7.8% in the U.S. for December 2012, and 9.8% in California during the same time–have spawned expert conversations about the reality of structural unemployment. Even if we wait for the global economy to rebound, for the Great Recession to yield to a boom cycle, there will not be enough jobs to support the global population of the 21st century. In the words of local nonprofit-slash-tech-startup, Samasource, “There is a global shortfall of 1.8 billion formal jobs.”

In 2001 Bernard Lietaer, a premier international expert on monetary systems and the global financial industry, predicted the economic crisis that started in 2008. In his book The Future of Money, he warned against increasingly risky speculation by giants of the financial industry. He argued that, based on the underlying principles of our modern financial system and the erasure of jobs inherent to the Information Age, complementary currencies must be developed to fill new and changing societal needs. With daunting issues such as climate change and water rights, the 21st century has already been marked by an acute awareness of our limited material resources. With the ceaseless information and exploration available through the Internet, however, we are also acutely aware of the unlimited capacity of human ingenuity.

As people, as workers, as family members, time is our most valuable human resource. With high unemployment, now some of us have a lot more time and with a wealth of skills and experience behind it. Add the context that, according to Paul Hawken in his seminal work, Blessed Unrest, grassroots responses to injustice have generated over one million organizations worldwide dedicated to sweeping social change. Within those organizations are people practicing thousands of new ideas about how we work, how we trade, and how we construct our communities. They’re building complementary economies. This confluence of events means we have a unique opportunity to invest our newfound time in experimenting with emerging economic and social change models. And we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, because there are already incredible local organizations where we can contribute, observe, and feed our capacity for invention.

Some of these organizations, like Samasource and Juma Ventures, are blending the best of nonprofit and for-profit principles to address systemic poverty. Some, like time banks throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, are testing formal complementary currencies as Lietaer recommended. I love learning about these organizations, because it’s inspiring to see the ambition of the tech world work alongside grounded, purposeful human service. And the more people know about these groups, learn from their experiences, and bring further innovation to these models, the more diverse and resilient our economy will be.

So, to bring it back (and add on, of course) to my original statement, in my wildest political and economic dreams:

1. Community service would be a tradable commodity.

2. Homelessness would not exist.

3. Health care would be free (including reproductive care and education).

I’m betting on the successes and failures from pursuing my first ‘big idea’ to inform the solutions for the second two ideas. I’m counting on my Millenial peers to further the social frontier by learning through new types of work. I’m trusting in the talents, passions, and visions of our communities to generate new solutions that don’t just address current problems but fuel future innovation. In short, I believe in the capacity of human ingenuity to solve unprecedented global problems.

Our material resources–natural and financial–may be dwindling or unsteady, but our human intellectual resources cannot be exhausted as long as we continue to use them. We desperately need a more resilient economy, and I absolutely believe we have the resources to build it.

—–

“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” -Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, 1788

‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’

20121220-185403.jpg

Image from Wikipedia.org.

Just for giggles, let’s entertain the idea that the Mayans were right and some profound universal alignment/shift/calendar moment happens on 12.21.12. And let’s say this ‘moment’ is a slice in the space-time continuum…
________________

Headnotes (‘cuz there’s not exactly room at the end, ya know?):
*Any arbitrary-yet-precise moment we choose to anticipate (12:21:12, for example) will unfold around the world continuously for 24 hrs on 12.21.12. Twenty-four hours on the infinite edge of a portal. Hmmm…what could we do with that?

**Concept of distinguishing human time from ‘meta-time’ borrowed from the current planetarium show at the Cal Academy of Sciences. It’s about local and global seismology, digital earthquake simulations, and our planet’s geological evolution. Translation: all kinds of Nerd Heaven.

***Whoa. That was fun, huh? 😉
__________________

Here’s where I’m going with this: What if 12.21.12 (+12:21:12*) is a rupture in the fabric of spacetime, where/when we can slip into an alternate dimension of infinite possibility? As with other imagined portals, what if we could enter and exit them in an instant and never know the difference? The moment would pass in the blink of an eye, but its impact has real-world consequences (a la 1990s Contact). Our attempts to measure this phenomenon “in human time”** are incomplete, so skepticism abounds that it actually exists.

If this portal exists, we could use it to infuse Our Era—whether it’s ending or beginning—with all of the _______ we can muster. [#joylovegratitudepeace]

Why not? What have we got to lose?

‘Cause that’s the ultimate moral of the epic stories: there’s good/bad, evil/sacred, fear/courage, etcetcetc within everything and all of us, and it’s what we choose to bring forward that wins in the end.

Image from "Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek" (mngeekramblings.blogspot.com).

Boromir struggles with the intoxicating power of The Ring. *dun-dun-DUH!!!* Image found on “Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek” blog.

What if—rather than fearfully wait for what might happen when Everything Changes—we stretch our imaginations beyond what ‘makes sense’ (because there’s sure as hell plenty about this world that doesn’t make sense to me anymore) to believe in something absurdly improbable, take this once-in-multiple-millenia opportunity, and breathe regenerative light and fire into it. If we can embrace our collective, intense, white-hot destructive/creative power to dissolve bullsh*t and injustice, we could actually initiate this progressive, feminine shift that so many people are talking about.

So, why not? Why not just give it a shot, and our ‘objective,’ protesting egos be damned? (To the death of the ego–)

Are you ready to go over the edge, to stare into the depths of our wildest dreams about what’s possible and not just recapture what we’ve lost but reclaim our ability to ignite new life and purpose into a world on the brink? You’ll never know you left, but the world will never be the same. It will be better.

Hey, look: here it comes. It’s Where the Sidewalk Ends

___,___,___,___,

Ready?

___,On the count of one,___,___, two,___,___,thr–

[let(s) go]

***