The traffic jam is symbolic of the human quagmire.
Mankind could benefit greatly by observing the free-flowing forces of nature. The winds, clouds, oceans, rivers and continents pay no attention to borders. The earth, sun, our solar system, our galaxy, all galaxies, fall freely through infinite space.
The concept of a nation with its own borders, walls, military, laws, economy and politics is in reality obsolete. A nation imprisons the people in the form of patriotism, wastes resources, and complicates cooperation. In the grand scheme of the universe the nation concept appears foolish.
But mankind may never come to understand that we all share this blue-green marble with each other and all the other animate creatures. Even though the airplane, the ship, the train, the automobile, and the internet enables us to break through our own self-created borders, our consciousness hasn’t adjusted accordingly. We still hold on to past superstitions and constructs that tear us apart. We don’t seem to be as intelligent, evolved, or conscious as we lead ourselves to believe. Perhaps I should be more patient. After all, relative to geological time, we just emerged from the jungle this morning.
Men dig tons of earth
to find an ounce of gold
Heraclitus — “Fragments”
I often put our hyper-focus on economics, capitalism, and money on the chopping block, but I really haven’t offered an alternative vision with the exception of broad outlines in Utopian constructs. But, I felt like throwing out a thought I had today.
Capitalism is focused on maximizing profit, cash flow, and stock price relative to assets employed (not including people for people aren’t classified as assets on financial statements), beating the competition, and rewarding those at the top (or the owners) of an enterprise with a great deal of money. In general, people working for a capitalistic entity spend at a minimum forty hours a week on the job. During the five weekdays, that minimum time commitment equates to approximately sixty percent of our waking hours. If we take out approximate time for commuting to work, eating, and doing mundane errands, perhaps we have an hour per weekday of “free-time”. Indeed, we have two days on the weekend where we can enjoy free-time during our waking hours, but there are many errands and mundane tasks to complete. If we are honest with ourselves, the work week consumes most of our energy and often the weekend is simply a means to recover and re-charge. Our lives, in general, are geared for the work week, and most people are living pay check to pay check.
My spontaneous and undeveloped alternative vision is that we create a structure where the goal is to maximize our free time. As such, the motivation to work efficiently and diligently is not money and profit, rather the reward is FREEDOM. In order for this to work properly, we would have to change a major dynamic and make some additional radical changes in our “currency”. Rather than create goods and services (to feed us, shelter us, and entertain us) through competition, we would engage in these activities through COOPERATION. And rather than treat money as the currency of exchange, we would replace that concept with the same currency used in all of nature with the exception of the human being – ENERGY. And our energy would be measured by time spent working. Depending on the level of responsibility or the quality or value of an individual’s output relative to that time spent working, a multiplier would be applied to the amount of time worked. Thus, an individual’s “currency” would be a combination of time spent working and the value created, which would equate to the productivity of an individual’s energy expensed. The productive use of energy each week would be calculated and stored on a type of debit card (no credit, for energy not yet spent does not create any value). Through this debit card, the individual could then purchase the same things we purchase today. The cost of “things”, whether they are products or services, would be measured in terms of energy expensed to create them. Therefore, there wouldn’t be any inflation or prices that exceed the true value of the energy used to create them.
Although there are still inherent problems with subjective assessments of value created per individual, at least we are basing this system on a more honest and accurate language than the current construct. Money is paper, whereas our energy is our life. And, it would be very difficult to create any type of Ponzi scheme when there is no credit, debt, or speculation for energy not yet used. The beauty of this concept is that the talented individual is still rewarded, and the free-rider has no place to hide. A talented individual also still has options. He or she can decide whether more free-time is desired or more things. They still have the freedom to make this choice. They can choose to work two days a week, or three hours a day for five days, or take one week off and work the next week, or work ten hours per day seven days a week. The free-rider, or the less talented or less productive, will of course have fewer options. But, given the consensus is cooperation as opposed to competition to create our products and services, and the idea of FREEDOM is at the forefront of our priority, everyone’s energy is worth something, as opposed to nothing. And therefore no one is going to be starving or homeless. For all human beings have energy that can be put to use for something, as opposed to nothing.
Pull up the anchor, raise the sail, head off that way where the wind blows. That was the beginning of the poem I wrote before I began my year-long unobstructed journey throughout Europe. Unfortunately I can’t remember all the lines, but I do remember that it ended by saying life and death dance together. In my preparation for this unobstructed journey I consulted my wise old brother for recommended readings to supplement my visual and touchable observations. He provided me with a large list of books by period and topic – all Penguin classics of course. And when I say classics, I am of course talking about pre-Christ and pre-industrial revolution. Some of the books would be a re-read from my liberal arts education in undergraduate, but books can mean different things at different stages or mindsets during our life. I fit all my clothes into a back pack, but the books I purchased filled two sport-sized duffel bags that probably weighed forty pounds each. Oh, the weight of past knowledge was immense!
I have used the term “unobstructed journey” often in the above paragraph and other posts. What I mean by this is that I wouldn’t have to be concerned with making money. I wouldn’t have to endure working five days to make a buck and then call upon my reserve energy on a weekend or short vacation to engage in higher and more bountiful endeavors. If you are honest with yourself, the need to make money expends and drains your energy leaving you with nothing but fumes to pursue what you really would like to pursue. Rare is the man or woman who can refute this maxim. But, to be clear, my freedom was restricted by two aspects. First, I had to watch my funds and as such I decided to live in hostels and holes in the wall so that I could splurge on good food, wine, and cultural excursions to museums and concerts. Second, the money would run out so there was certainly a time constriction on this journey. Notice the common limitation? Who created money? Man.
My travels included three months in Paris, two months in Austria (Salzburg and Vienne), three months in Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice), and the remainder in Greece on the Island of Santorini. In Paris, my focus was the museums which I would combine with reading material that aligned with the art and architecture I would observe. I also began writing my thoughts based on what I was learning, thinking, and observing. I applied the same program to my time in Italy. In Austria, I tended to focus more on music of the likes of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Greece was used as a means to decompress and begin to summarize my thoughts and learning and apply it to my purpose in life going forward. Of course in Greece I focused on works from the great philosophers and epic poets born from that ancient flower.
Greece or Santorini was really the pinnacle of the excursion for it was at this place that I began to reflect on my future purpose. I still remember the ferry ride from Italy to Greece. I had enjoyed a great meal and drink while I awaited the ferry. My mind was so supple and alive from the last eight months. Once aboard the ferry and under way, I vividly remember the wind blowing in my face, the smells, the clouds, and the color of the blue Mediterranean. Such a feeling of freedom and clarity have I rarely known. I was a very different person from whom I was and whom I am. My hair had grown quite long with blonde streaks from so much time outside in the parks and wandering the city streets. My skin had a golden glow. My mind was clear and supple. My spirit was relatively open and free. My body was lean and strong. Once I landed on Santorini, I made a cave hostel my home. The cave-like hostel was drilled into a mountain equipped with beds, bathroom, and a couple that served us meals outside of the cave. I could walk to cafes and restaurants or take a bus to the beach where I would take long powerful swims in the Mediterranean. I met many people and realized I wasn’t such a brave man for taking a year out my life to travel with relative freedom. Many Australians travel for up to two years and the culture actually embraces such an excursion.
My three months in Greece was both fruitful and tragic. The fruitful piece was that I had finally decided how I wanted to expend the rest of my energy in this life. I had decided to become a landscape and sky scape photographer and also approach human subjects that reflected the beauty of past and present achievements. I knew that I wasn’t a deep intellectual, or a talented writer, or skilled with my hands in painting or sculpture, or a god-like composer of music, but I also knew I had a great eye for observation and a talent for merging deep feeling with the sublime moment nature often reveals. I also love to be outside amongst nature and detest being locked in doors. I feel so free and alive when I am outside amongst beauty, and the opposite when the walls of humanity close me in. The tragic piece was that women found me attractive. I had never been a playboy and preferred long-term and meaningful relationships. But, these women were like sirens and I didn’t have the discipline to walk the other way. As such, I expended resources beyond my means to enjoy food and drink at incredibly beautiful spots. I expended resources on villas overlooking the beautiful sunsets. This weakness of mine led to the conclusion of this short breath of freedom. Resources had dried up and it was time to return to America. The time had come to begin my new-found purpose in life and leave the sirens behind.