I first started getting involved in the Timebank early June this year. I wanted to connect with people who shared similar values of developing community, thinking globally but acting locally, and exploring alternatives to the current system.
A strong interest of mine was the gift economy, and as Ruth Musgrave pointed out in a previous post here, Sophia Hubs’ Redbridge Timebank is being part of that transition towards a gift economy.
We are all actually already part of a gift economy. The way we are with friends and family is part of that. We don’t keep tabs on who owes what to who. Instead we give unconditionally. We have trust that those gifts circulate and will come back to us later. We trust that we will be looked after by one another.
The premise for a gift economy has roots in this question – what exactly did you do to deserve to be born?
Ultimately the answer to that question is nothing. Life was given to you unconditionally. If the most valuable thing you have isn’t anything you earned, why be stingy with all the lesser stuff?
I’d like to see the mini gift economy we have within family and friends extend to encompass the whole world. A utopian image forms in my mind where everyone gives unconditionally. A world where there is trust, genuine community and abundance.
But the logical and rational mind kicks in and says this is impossible.
I don’t want to dismiss what my rational mind says. After all, it is a faithful servant. But I also want to make sure I don’t ignore my heart, which is saying such a world is possible.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift” – attributed to Albert Einstein
I’m trying to unify mind and heart. And I have started small experiments to try to extend the gift economy to the world.
One of these experiments is a Non-Violent Communication (NVC) workshop run in the gift economy. The workshop will be facilitated by Ruth Musgrave on 12th December.
“Nonviolent Communication is based on the principles of nonviolence https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolence — the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.
NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviours taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.”
At the end of the workshop we will also be exploring more about what a gift economy means and how we can continue the gift.
If this is something you are interested in, we are asking for £5 in advance as a Token of Your Commitment. This is not a charge for the workshop – the workshop is a gift. The token helps us confirm how many people can make it and lessens the chance of people dropping out last minute. Just to clarify, this event is not being run through the Redbridge Timebank but the gift economy. You can get your token here:
This is one of the first of many gifts to come. I am very interested in doing more projects within the gift economy including in Redbridge where I live. If this is something you resonate with please get in touch!
The final thing I’d like to share is that the transition to a gift economy must lead to an expansion of our sense of self. In a gift economy, there is no such thing as selfishness because we recognise that we are all part of the same whole. To call each other selfish would be like the liver calling the heart selfish for using the blood first. The heart and liver are part of the same body. They are interconnected, interdependent. Selfishness is absurd.
Thanks to Liam for this thoughful, challenging and encouraging blog. Liam Chai describes himself as an aspiring generosity entrepreneur. He has visions to grow clusters of enlightened communities within urban environments that allow the emergence of paradigm shifts within the world. He is a meditator, blogger and head of digital for MOE Foundation. You can find more about him at www.liamchai.com (Ros Southern)