The global economic recession of 2008 did not begin with events that occurred in 2008 but it was triggered by some of them. The most easy to identify were sales of mortgages in huge numbers to individuals who were not (and are not) able to repay them. In this process a phenomenon even more damaging to the fragile economic structure (although Citigroup with $2 trillion in revenue did not look fragile at the time) occurred and was inseparable from the sale of these mortgages – the attempt to remove responsibility for the actions of sellers and buyers.
The new millennia brought with it a new way of looking at mortgages. Previously mortgages were loans that allowed individuals to purchase something of great importance to them (a house) that was way beyond their ability to afford. If the mortgage were not repaid, the lender would have the house to sell and the house was worth more than the mortgage. The home owner looked forward to paying off the mortgage and owning her home free and clear, debt free, worry free. Home owners treasured their homes and lenders were secure in helping them acquire their homes. Borrower and lender knew one another and their relationship was often long–term. That was the old way of looking at mortgages.
The new way of looking at mortgages is different. A home is a source of cash, like a piggy bank, and the money in the piggy bank can be used to buy things that are not precious, such as televisions, automobiles, and clothes. Every month (mortgage payment) money is put into the piggy bank and if none is taken out, it goes to waste. Sometimes the money that is taken out is spent well (such as buying education for children) but often it is not. Eventually all the money in the piggy bank is gone but the monthly mortgage payment is still required. All is the same as before except that the piggy bank and everything in it (nothing) is now owned by a lender. Paying off the mortgage and owning the home free and clear, debt free, worry free, is not intelligent (and usually impossible).
In between the old understanding of a mortgage and the new a brilliant, different, and highly destructive way to make money was created. In the old way of looking at mortgages, lenders obtained a kind of ownership directly in the home that their money allowed the borrower to buy. The borrower was responsible directly to the lender and the lender was responsible directly to the borrower. This limited the number of people who could make money on each loan (the lender). Here was the brilliant idea that emerged: if hundreds of mortgages were purchased from original lenders and put into a pool, that pool could be sliced up and a kind of ownership in each slice could be purchased by many people (investors). The pool is refreshed each month as hundreds of people make mortgage payments on their homes but investors do not own an interest directly in any particular home. They own an interest in a slice of the pool of mortgages. This is the realm of mortgage backed securities.
It is also where responsibility disappears. The borrower does not know who receives her monthly payments (it’s not the banker who originally made the loan – he sold it long ago) and she doesn’t know who or how many investors own a slice of the pool that contains her – or part of her – mortgage). The lender does not know who pays the money that comes into his slice of the pool (and different slices have different values and ratings). The relationship between borrower and lender no longer exists. This is the beginning.
At this point, yet another new, brilliant, and even more destructive way to make money was created. Pools of mortgaged backed securities could be gathered into a pool of pools and slices of the super pool could be sold to yet more investors. Now even more people could make money from the original mortgage. No trace of responsibility now exists between the original borrower and investor. This is the realm of collateralized debt obligations.
One more thing is important. Investors who buy these “securities” (they are not secure) are not always individuals. They are frequently money managers who invest for thousands, or sometimes millions of “small” investors in their funds. People with money in these funds (like most retirement funds) are owners of a very tiny slice (shares in their fund) of a slice of a pool of pools (collateral debt obligation) or a slice of a pool of mortgages (mortgage backed security).
So much money was made by everyone in this structure that some very large banks (such as Citigroup) bought a lot of pools, slices and slices of slices and, like everyone else, found themselves owning “securities” that weren’t worth much, or anything. When investors (the same investors, individual and institutional) realized that, they stopped investing in those banks, too. The value of Citigroup, for example, fell almost ninety per cent!
Why so much money was made by so many people before all of them lost so much is another part of the story, and a very important part. The point of this part of the story has to do with responsibility. The step by step deconstruction of responsibility resulted from an old and familiar understanding of power as the ability to manipulate and control. This understanding of power is now counterproductive to our evolution. It produces only violence and destruction. The amount of destruction that it can produce is visible in Iraq, the global recession, and every power struggle between individuals and between collectives.
The new understanding of power is so different from the old, so startling, transformational, and novel that at first it appears inadequate to be able to affect, much less repair, the deconstruction of responsibility that lies at the foundation of perhaps the worst financial catastrophe in history. Not only is the new understanding able to repair this institutionalized deconstruction of responsibility, it is the only thing that can. The new understanding of power is the alignment of the personality with the soul, the ability to choose consciously, wisely, and assume responsibility for the consequences of each choice.
The gap between the new understanding of power and the old is as huge as the chasm between love and fear, between the economy of scarcity (supply and demand) and an economy of abundance. The global recession that escalated out of control in 2008 is not a cyclic return to economic contraction that will be followed in turn by another economic expansion, although that may happen. It is a birthing pain of a new economy and new social structures that will accompany it.
Far beneath the vast political and economic consequences of a very conservative administration stumbling toward the nationalization of American banks, the implosion of the American consumer society, and the spreading of “toxic” investments around the globe lays a change in human consciousness and evolution unlike any before it. Like a tectonic plate in motion, everything above it is affected irrevocably. That change is toward responsibility, not away from it; toward sharing and away from hoarding; toward cooperation and away from competition; toward harmony and away from discord; toward contribution and away from exploitation.
Reconstruction of responsibility in economic and financial endeavors will follow deconstruction but the story is much larger than that. Both are symbolic of a species–wide change in human consciousness that is dramatically changing individual and collective experiences in challenging and profoundly positive ways and will continue to do so throughout our lives.
posted by Lover of Life: January 10, 2009 at 8:17 AM Delete:
I love using The Spiritual Partnership Guidelines from your web site to support me in making the most healthy choices I can. In this instance, the Spiritual Partnership Guidelines http://zukav.com/guidelines.html/ allow me to notice my thoughts, emotions and intentions before I act. For example, I recently noticed that I wanted to save more money rather than spend it (even on a worthy thing like attending a workshop or visiting family.) I noticed that each time I considered my choice to save or spend I felt my solar plexus tighten and I knew that my intention was really not to save money but to hoard and I knew that I was in the control of frightened parts of my personality. I now have the insight that saving money and hoarding money are two different intentions- one coming from a healthy part of my personality and the other coming from a frightened part of my personality.
What you say about the global recession not being a cyclic return to economic contraction and that it is a birthing pain of a new economy and new social structures resonates with me. By focusing on what I am learning about myself and making choices that stretch me I am a conscious participant in this new collective experience.
posted by : January 15, 2009 at 8:23 AM Delete:
posted by Marie-Ora: January 16, 2009 at 12:31 AM Delete:
posted by : January 16, 2009 at 9:11 AM Delete:
For the past year, I have looked at how to use my resources (money, time, energy, etc.)more wisely--not from a frightened place but with the intention of supporting my life and to doing the things that nurture the needs of my soul.
This choice has supported me in remaining present with whatever is happening in the moment and taking responsible informed action to create a future experience or consequence that supports my deeper intention to grow spiritually.
This reminder that our choices to accept the present moment and be responsible are connected in ways that I could not have imagined before my decision to spend my life creating authentic power as best I could. It feels as if the change that is occurring in me is supporting the changes I'm seeing around the world.
posted by : January 18, 2009 at 9:48 AM Delete:
Over the past 3 days, Melbourne has been experiencing another form of meltdown.
On each of the past 3 days, the temperature has risen to over 43 degrees Celsius (that's around 110 degrees Fahrenheit).
The soaring temperatures have caused rail lines to buckle, paralyzing the train network. The drain on the city's energy supplies have caused blackouts across the city.
I arrived at work yesterday morning at the home of my client. My part-time job is to provide home care for clients, most of whom are frail and elderly.
I was greeted at the door by a very tired, frail elderly lady, whose electricity had been out for the past night and day.
But still, she wanted me there...despite there being no power to turn on a light, or run a vacuum cleaner.
I asked her if she had anywhere she could go to escape the immense heat. She replied that her daughter was coming to pick her up after I had finished cleaning.
The lights were out, but there was enough natural sunlight to see what I was cleaning. As I swept the tiled floor, then mopped it, then used a manual carpet sweeper in place of the vacuum cleaner to clean the carpets...I felt a sense of calmness and joy at the simplicity of cleaning without the aid of electricity, and electrical appliances.
We chatted as I cleaned. My client had small battery powered transistor radio. We turned it on for a while...and listened to a talkback radio program. Almost everyone who called in was complaining about the heat, the blackouts, the train cancellations and more.
We agreed that there was not much point listening to everyone complaining, so we turned it off, and we continued to talk as I cleaned.
Normally, the sound of the vacuum makes conversation difficult, so we took advantage of the relative quiet of the carpet sweeper to talk.
I have learnt so much from my interaction with my clients.
Most of them are now in their mid-late eighties. I have been cleaning for most of them for the best part of 9 years.
They inspire me with their insights, their wisdom, and their spirit to overcome all sorts of adversity throughout their life's journey.
I draw on the best qualities from each of my clients to help create a template for myself. I see how their wisdom has been forged choice by choice, decision by decision over a lifetime of years. I have 40 years to create the person I want to be at that age. I hope my choices will be as wise as theirs.
Spiritual partners come in many forms. For example, they can be loved ones, family members, friends, work colleagues, clients, forum members, blog authors and commenters to name but a few.
This day, I was sharing a soulful interaction with one of my elderly clients. A form of "power" had literally been stripped away from us...but we reached deeper and tapped into a more potent source of power - the power of the human spirit.
The power to not only "make do" with whatever circumstances came our way...but to take advantage of the silence and space that the absence of this "external power" presented.
We enjoyed the simplicity of conversation, and glasses of water to keep us cool and hydrated. At the end of my shift, we normally have a cup of tea together.
Without electricity, this day, we boiled up a pot on the gas stove, and made our tea from that.
How we enjoyed that cup of tea together!
My "economic meltdown" occurred several years ago when my health made it difficult for me to find a well paying, full time job. I went through stages of panic...even at one stage, trying to find extra income through gambling.
These days, I approach an "economic meltdown" in the same way we approached this "weather meltdown".
When "economic power" is stripped away, I learn to make do with what I have. Life becomes more simple. The choices to spend may be fewer, but the opportunities to live deeply are abundant.
In fact, I have recently reconstructed my finances so that all my bills, and ongoing expenses are automatically paid via direct debit from a specific account.
Using internet banking, I then set up an ongoing deduction where a regular portion of my income goes directly to that account to cover these expenses.
In this way, I have created a simple, stable ongoing arrangement where I know at any time just how much money I have available to spend...while still ensuring that all of my bills and regular ongoing financial commitments are met.
The beauty of this "automated system" is that I can now forget about it....and just get on with Living!
The finances will take care of themselves. I can make any adjustments as the need arises, but other than that...I won't even need to think about money.
Which is so ironic! When I had more money...I spent so much more time thinking about it, making plans around it, calculating whether I could afford to do this, or buy that.
But now that I have much less...and have set up this system...I'll be spending this time much more productively.
For example, I've just spent an hour and a half of what previously could have been "money calculating" time, interacting with my spiritual partners in this forum!
Now that's what I call REAL Freedom...Freedom that no amount of money can ever buy!!
posted by ...being here, doing this...: January 29, 2009 at 9:46 PM Delete:
I will tell you all I am doing now to help you to grow spiritually as I am aware of the economic situation of course. Indeed we in Ireland may be the worst case of any country in Western Europe at the moment.
I have started to read Neale Donald Walsh's books. I am about 50 pages through book three and oh my God. Two things I have done since then to reflect my growth in consciousness of which I will now share one. I have started to be nicer on politics.ie trying to do what The All said so far in those books and I have started this thread on hemp leading directly from what The All said in one of those books. That thread will only mark the beginning for my quest to bring or help bring the mass production of hemp on our planet for beneficial purposes. I have already emailed the relevant Fine Gael spokesperson and I am always reviewing my being a member of that party anyway.
There are also some other things I am doing that are good that I will share with you later (before the end of the week) but that have yet to be experienced.
posted by Darren J Prior: February 2, 2009 at 4:00 AM Delete:
My circle is widening as a result of all of our interactions.
I discovered Marianne Williamson's website as a result of reading Neale's posts. On Marianne's site, I discovered, and took the "Vow of Non-Violence" instigated by Deepak Chopra.
Here's the website...
I have shared this vow with fellow forum members.
As I've mentioned before, I'm always intrigued by co-incidence as being "God's way of remaining anonymous"...so it was a lovely surprise to discover, following the co-incidences of both Gary's and Neale's blogs beginning around the time of my birthday (July 9) that I should find a connection with Marianne along these same lines...
Marianne was born on July 8!!
And, as if to reinforce this connection, last night I opened one of my favourite books "Gift From An Angel" put together by the late metaphysical teacher and holistic healer, Eileen Goble...and noticed the address at the very front of the book...
I looked a little more into Marianne's work and discovered that she is the (quoting Wikipedia) "founder of The Peace Alliance, a grass roots campaign supporting legislation currently before Congress to establish a United States Department of Peace.
She is also the founder of a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area."
And, in light of the Marianne Way - "Gift From An Angel" co-incidence, it comes as no surpirse to learn the name of this program...
Project Angel Food!!
...now that's my kind of Way!!
posted by ...being here, doing this...: February 3, 2009 at 8:25 PM Delete:
As well as experiencing severe flooding in North Queensland, Australia is currently in the midst of its worse natural disaster - with Victorian bushfires claiming the lives of at least 173 people, with that number expected to rise. Over 750 homes have been destroyed, and the number made homeless by the disaster estimated to be over 3000.
My personal response to this was to return to Gary and Linda's "Opportunity from Disaster" course - in which I was a participant at the time of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita.
Using this course as inspiration, so far I have taken the following simple actions...
I have shared this course with others online, encouraging it to be further shared with any who may find it helpful.
I've also donated, and encouraged others to donate through the Red Cross by sharing this website...
In addition, I composed a short and simple prayer, which I've shared with others online, and which I'd like to share with you here now...
"We pray that all who are suffering through this disaster, and through all disasters across our globe, find within themselves the Grace and Strength to help them through their ordeals.
Let all of us here join together and send our thoughts and prayers of love and healing to all of those who are suffering, not only in these bushfires, but to all those whose are suffering throughout the world."
Now...that's enough about my small contribution!
Aside from the Victorian bushfire appeal, you will notice on the Red Cross website that there is currently another appeal running for those who have lost everything due to the severe flooding in North Queensland.
If ever there were an inspirational story to inspire and illuminate the way to respond to the challenges that appear in our lives...this has to be it!!
Here is an article just posted on the ABC News website.
If you think the title says it all...be sure to read the article!...
Queensland flood victims donate to Victorian bushfire appeal
posted by ...being here, doing this...: February 9, 2009 at 9:18 PM Delete:
posted by marconegro: February 16, 2009 at 3:16 PM Delete:
That insight was particularly helpful for me to see where I was ESCAPING from "storms" in my own life.
It also helped me to take control of where I was directing my attention...so that I could choose to direct it in a way that felt healthy and empowering.
Now, as I use the same "Opportunites" to learn from the Victorian Bushfire disaster, I see that my attention is being drawn most to those who are overcoming personal difficulites and reaching out to HELP others.
It is interesting to observe that this seems to be a reflection of how I now see myself. In my own life, I have been able to draw on my own experience of suffering with ME/CFS, and am using it to reach out to help others who are suffering.
As I witness the many Bushfire media reports of suffering, blaming, anger, wanting retribution...I find myself not getting "caught up" in the emotion of it all.
Instead, I feel most drawn to, and connected with stories of those who are HELPING.
Here is one such example of an inspirational man who has created his own "opportunity from disaster" in order to help others...
The Herald Sun (Melbourne)
February 17, 2009
"Ash Wednesday survivor Ranald Webster to inspire victims"
by Grant McArthur
TWENTY-SIX years after an Ash Wednesday inferno left Ranald Webster's face blackened and swollen, he wants to inspire new bushfire victims.
Tomorrow the 87-year-old will return to the Alfred burns unit so the most seriously burnt victims and their families can draw hope from his now recovered face and life.
"I've got two horrible-looking photos of myself and I say: 'This is what I looked like when I came in, this is what I look like now. If I can do it, you can do it'," Mr Webster said...
...A CFA volunteer fighting the Ash Wednesday fires at Cockatoo, Mr Webster amazingly survived by kicking his way out of an overturned vehicle before being engulfed in flames. His colleague did not make it.
Given just a 4 per cent chance of survival with burns to 35 per cent of his body, Mr Webster endured five years of operations and rehabilitation, and now regularly visits burns victims at the hospital.
"I always tell the people at the Alfred - because some of them feel real sorry for themselves, which is quite natural - 'Life goes on, it's up to you if you want to be in it or not, and you're the only one that can do that'."
Stories such as these fill me with confidence and optimism about the capacity of the human spirit to grow wisely through whatever challenges present themselves.
Whether it be a hurricane, a bushfire, or an economic meltdown...each of us has the power to choose to direct our attention in a way that is healthy and empowering.
When our focus is healthy, we are able to more readily create opportunites that contribute to the healing and helping of those around us who may be struggling.
posted by ...being here, doing this...: February 18, 2009 at 8:03 PM Delete:
I have also been thinking about Ranald Webster...an 87 year old man who almost lost his life in the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. He endured the pain of reliving his own bushfire horror, so as to be present for others who are suffering in the same way he did.
As I contemplated these two examples...the thought of another selfless couple came to mind...
Stephen and Ondrea Levine.
From an open letter from Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, and Sharon Salzberg...
"Stephen and Ondrea have been among our generation's most important teachers, demonstrating and encouraging others to embrace the power of love and generosity. For three years, they ran a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week free phone line for those dying or in need of support. When the phone bills got too high, they sold their house to keep the project going. For decades they regularly corresponded with thousands of people who were seeking spiritual guidance, giving freely to those in need, many of whom were sick or in the final years of their life."
For me, this kind of selflessness is a living example of how we can trust in a spiritual perspective, even in the midst of an economic meltdown.
The open letter from Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, and Sharon Salzberg demonstrates how this trust can come "full circle". How what we give, we receive...
"We are writing to ask your support for two beloved friends of ours, Stephen and Ondrea Levine. They are currently facing significant difficulty. After a life-time of giving, they are now at a time to receive from those of us whose lives have been touched by their presence and teaching.
Their greatest needs are financial. Ondrea has Leukemia and the costs of her insurance and treatment have used up their savings. Stephen's health is not good either, and he is too frail to travel or teach. When we heard about this, we felt moved to contribute to a fund set up for them, and to encourage others to do the same...
...The circle has now come around, allowing us the opportunity to give to these two life-long givers."
For some, trust can mean giving even when it makes no economic sense to give.
For others, it may just mean to live more simply.
If we trust the Universe...our intuition can guide each one of us to choose a response to the economic meltdown that is appropriate, healthy and loving.
I trust that we will.
posted by ...being here, doing this...: March 4, 2009 at 12:13 AM Delete:
What choices would you make to create a new future from the ruins of crisis and tragedy?
A university student and lead singer in a band starting to make its way on the Sydney music scene, 23-year-old Peter was sleeping downstairs in the Lindfield family home on Sydney's North Shore when fire broke out on the top floor of the two-storey house about 2.30am. He was forced from his bedroom by the smoke before hearing his mother Betty's desperate screams for help from her upstairs room.
Police later said that Betty’s cries for help were heard more than two blocks away.
Peter, rushed from his downstairs bedroom and tried twice to get up the stairs to his mother.
But he was forced back both times by smoke and flames.
Neighbours still remember that "terrible night" in 1977 when the Cape Cod-style wooden house went up in flames.
They remember Peter standing in the middle of Eton Road, shouting and screaming "My mother's in there" through the pain of burns to his own face and hands.
Three fire trucks arrived, but could not save 50-year-old Betty from the gutted house.
A neighbour said the street took up a collection for Peter and his brother Matthew, who were left with nothing after the fire.
"They didn't even have clothes for the funeral," the neighbour said.
Peter’s father had died of an illness when the budding musician was still in school.
(These are edited excerpts from this Sydney Morning Herald article )
Fast forward 32 years, and where do we find Peter?
Is he dead? Has his life been ruined by the tragedy? Has he turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain of this enormous suffering and loss?
In 2009, 32 years on, Peter Garrett is standing in the spotlight, centre-stage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground; his reformed band, “Midnight Oil”, headlining the biggest paid concert in Australian history – the “Sound Relief” benefit concert, to raise money for those affected by the North Queensland floods, and the Victorian bushfires.
His is a story of perseverance, determination and an unyielding passion to make a difference; to contribute to humanity and help make the world a better place.
Not only did Peter remain in his band after the tragedy, he focussed his energies and passions towards the things that were closest to his heart.
He became a political, social and environmental activist.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, he became president of the Australian Conservation Foundation . In 1993 he joined the international board of Greenpeace .
In 2000 he was awarded the Australian Humanitarian Foundation Award in the Environment category.
In 2003, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to environment and the music industry.
And, after the Labor Party won the Australian Federal election in 2007, Garrett was appointed Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts by Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
He is still a serving Minister today.
Here are the insights and wisdom that Peter garnered from his tragedy…
"If you can talk about what happened in any way, you can say that it hurts but it also focuses you on what's important and what's real in life."
Garrett said the important things in life were the power of love and the necessity for love.
"And the necessity to be able to work and develop relationships with family and friends, and to be productive in civic and creative life."
This current economic crisis presents all of us with an opportunity to rebuild and start afresh.
What future will we choose to create for ourselves, and our world from the ashes of this crisis?
After reading Peter Garrett’s inspiring story, I know which path I will be choosing to take.
How about you?
posted by ...being here, doing this...: March 30, 2009 at 10:43 PM Delete:
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