Thursday, November 3, 2011

And in the future, we will . . .

We could spend countless hours, discussing who and what has caused any multitude of problems in our culture. But that, has already been done. We could say that our financial situation, our medical situation, our educational situation, our social situation- are all the fault of various facets of a big huge machine. We could say the solutions are complicated, and that we are too small or busy to solve them.
I am very very tired of watching the news. Not because I cannot stomach what I see in the new story, but because I cannot stomach the blame. I cannot stomach the arguing. I cannot stand the lack of mindful, wholehearted, whole-minded conversation.
I happen to believe we should be the change we want to see in the world. I happened to know first hand that my actions, no matter how small effect the entire universe. I know that what I do in my home, spreads like wildfire over the rest of this country. If not today, if not tomorrow- with the offspring of my children and my children's children.
Why are we here. At a cross roads for the environment, the economy, education, medicine, social graces, community. Because we lead ourselves here. Each and every one of us, by the choices we have made. Every time we did something without thinking, or worse yet, did something we felt was wrong but was easier or cheaper, or less complicated. Every time. We cannot have a lovely world without trying. We cannot.

We ask, where did all the good journalists go? But we tune in to watch the "flashy" news, or we read  online instead of in the paper. We ask where all the good jobs went, while we look for the cheapest labor for our homes, the cheapest cars to buy, the cheapest food. We are so afraid that someone is taking advantage of us, someone is getting more than us- that we are the ones taking advantage. When was the last time you went to buy something and asked home much it was worth, not how much it cost. Why do we think we should buy products at a few pennies over invoice price. When we do that, we undermine the men and women standing right in front of us.
Right now, I am teaching Lyra about money, and the history of money. She learned that we once traded goods and services. Now we trade money for goods and services. It was thought that the exchange of money would make trade more fair, because sometimes  goods and services were not all equal. Well goods and services are still not all equal- but even my 8 year old could see that. She said " but when you pay money, you don't want to part with it unless what you are getting is better than the money". Isn't that clever, better than money. Because money has no value, except the value we give it. And every time we give it to someone else begrudgingly- we diminish the value of their work.  In the same way, when we spend our money- it is only logical to think that the people selling us goods or services will behave the same way. Why would they not give us what we want. If you will not pay the true value for this nice new what-cha-ma-gig, that  a what-cha-ma-gig craftsman took years learning to make, that a what-cha-ma-gig craftsman might support his family. Well then, I will sell you a what-the-ma-hig, and no craftsman required. Now I make more money and you have your product, you'll need a new one soon, since this one wont last, so please come again. And will you, will you come again?
On the news this morning, they were finally starting to get the idea. Brains from all around the country had told them, this current financial situation will not end for a decade or more. Because we have become too productive- we can make so much so fast and cheap. Everyone, can have everything- accept when you no longer pay people to be part of the process, there are no longer people to buy your product.
I am tired of listening to the news, and the politicians. And honestly, even the activists. I do not want activists. I want action. I understand there is a need for reforms to all facets of our government, our school systems, our medical systems, our financial systems. But why wait for others to argue over big choices. Why not do what we can now, and in doing so- show the direction we want these decisions to go in. I think that the action starts in our own communities. It starts with me an you. Instead of waiting, lets start today. What decisions can we make today that are part of the solution. It starts when we say, no- I do not need a what-the-ma-hig. I WANT a what-cha-ma-gig, how much is it worth? Even if I can only have one, I want a good one. One that brings value to my life, because of the value you brought from your life into it. That is what I want. And I sincerely believe, if we start bringing the value of objects back to the value of the person who made them, we will find so many of our problems dissolve away. We will start to recognize the value of the services in our economy, the teachers, the policeman, the carpenters, the doctors. We will start to recognize that money is only as valuable as we make it. And people want to be valued, not just make money.
And so, where do we start.
We start by taking responsibility. I buy my food locally, from men and women I know. I am very careful about the stores I shop at, and I only support the small ones, where I can see what they do. But when it came time to buy this house, I did not go to my bank. I went with whatever lender was willing to give me a loan on my terms. I did not have much money down and this house was more then I should have been approved for. There is my confession. I chose this house, over many of my other values. You could say, its the times we live in, or that housing prices are so high- this is what everyone does. But truth is, I was too prideful to ask that my husband and I live with family just out of college. If I had asked, I could have bought a house years early, in a better financial situation.  And so I promise, I will do everything is my power to make my home valuable to my community. And I promise not to finance anything again, when I wouldn't qualify according to the more stringent standards of banking.
Below is a list of small things we can do to boost the value of VALUE in our communities. If we all start from where we are, we will meet up down the road, in the woods, in the fields. And I bet when we meet, there will not be as much anger and blame. I have a feeling we will be happy to be where we are.

Today we can .  .   .

Evaluate our purchasing habits, how many objects can you account for their origin?

Next time we need a plumber, electrician, carpenter, or mechanic- look into the small independently owned company. Maybe the owner even does the work? You may pay more or less at the chain down the street, but you will get more value from a recommended small company.

Pay cash. If you are concerned about the BIG companies effect on the small company and the consumer- then really, put away the plastic. Our retailers have to pay for that service. They have to pass that cost on to us, and we all know what happens if we don't pay the balance in full.

Buy less, buy better. This holiday season, consider buying from small local retailers. Or from craftsman that sell their own goods online. These gifts will be more expensive, so give less of them- give value this season.

Find local farmers. The benefits of eating local are many. You keep farm land available in your region, you keep clean healthy food on your table. You put more money into the homes of farmers and keep more money in your own pocket. There is less packaging. And you get to show your gratitude for the food you have each week when you greet them.

Start each day, and each purchase, asking yourself what you value today and how you are going to show it, PROVE it, and make sure your values are indeed valued.

Say thank you, to everyone everywhere. We are all part of this community, and this economy. We need each other- and should not look at jobs as "good jobs" and " bad jobs". Each person is doing work which needs doing.

Speak to a person at the bank and grocery store( instead of an automated machine)- even if it takes a few extra moments, your kids might even get a lollipop.

Accept that we have the power to make a difference.

Below is a list of professions that we should be able to produce a business card and name the person in charge of our account, or the local shop. How many does your neighborhood have?

insurance sales
doctor
dentist
florist
delicatessen
butcher
dry cleaner
pharmacist
baker
mechanic
car salesman
realtor
Book store owner/worker ( we hardly even have any left, definitely not any locally owned)
Electrician
Plumber
Carpenter
Builder
Grocer
Landscaper
Bankers
Pizzeria
Chef
Restaurateur
Postman
Farmer
repair people of any kind ( computers, appliances)
sales people
cobbler ( remember we used to repair our shoes instead of buying new ones)

The list goes on. If we paid for the value of these services, we would have healthier bodies, minds, economies, communities.
Yes, there is much more work to be done- and we can't do it all. But today, we can do this- put our values into action.

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