This morning, as I sat in silence, I had to battle the thought that I was ‘wasting my time’. That time is no different than money. A commodity to be ‘spent’. And that I can spend it wisely or un-wisely.
Despite my best efforts, I cannot store up time or money in such a way that I don’t need to worry about running out of either. They both provide illusory security and comfort. Saying, ‘I’ve got all the time [or money] in the world,’ could seem true one moment, then vanish the next. Because I could die, or the financial system upon which our fiat money is based could crumble overnight.
The accumulation of neither can bring security, peace or comfort. The more I focus on either, the less I can enjoy the benefits of either. In trying to preserve time, or beat the clock, the clock beats me. In storing up wealth as a way to safeguard against the uncertainty of the future, I never feel secure.
Time and money viewed as commodities tends to lead to compartmentalization of everything. In other words, when I only see things through the value they provide in terms of time or dollar units, I make decisions based on worth. It becomes easier to put things in categories of higher or lesser worth.
This type of decision making, I find, is not based on the interconnectedness of everything, but rather on the time/money return-on-my-investment it can bring, now or in the future.
This kind of thinking is not wrong, but unhelpful to me. I’ll try and explain.
This morning as I sat in silence, it struck me again that our world is interconnected in more ways than I will ever understand. For example, I was recently listening to a Radiolab episode called ‘From Tree to Shining Tree,’ in which they talked about the interconnectedness of the forest. That below the forest floor, there is this interconnected network of fungi called mycelium (excuse any poor scientific descriptions) that literally connects plant to plant, tree to tree, in a way that allows them to feed one another. In other words, each tree is not independent of all the rest. Removing one tree in the forest might damage, or even lead to the death of another tree nearby, because of this interconnectedness. (Listen to the episode for a much more detailed and eloquent explanation.)
I’m not trying to argue that cutting down trees is wrong, but simply that viewing nature as commodity, and ignorance of how nature is interconnected, tends to lead to abusive practices. One does not need to look far for examples.
Financial markets are no different. When an investor is solely concerned about yields, they might go to any lengths to get higher and higher yields (ex: housing crisis and masking the high risk of doomed-to-fail mortgage backed securities).
It seems like the same thing is happening in third world countries. There is this emphasis on growing their economies by pumping money into them. Then when their economies fails, the investors aren’t blamed for putting band aids on. (e.g. Investing in infrastructure rather than a sustainable and self-sufficient food system.) Instead, it’s the government’s fault. They mishandled or misappropriated funds. There was corruption. Something went wrong on the ground floor. (Which very well may be true.) Then the country is in bondage to its creditors, they begin to default on their debt obligations, and the vicious cycle of getting new loans to refinance old ones begins. Debtor forever. The creditors always win.
I’m not trying to be negative, or point a finger. It’s not about blame, but rather to simply observe that a compartmentalized view of life tends to lead to abuse of people and land, and an interconnected view of life leads to wholeness and sustainability.
And to ask, How might that be true in my own life? How might I treat others and my world differently, better, more lovingly – how might I be more generous, less selfish – if I seek to understand the interconnectedness of all things? How might I speak and act differently?
Just a thought.