An interview with Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics at Harvard and former Chief Economic Advisor for the International Monetary Fund was televised recently on PBS. It is as painful to consider as it is realistic and hopeful. The problem is bigger than many assume, he began, perhaps requiring as much as $2 trillion to fix the banking industry and resulting in a total debt of $8 trillion to $9 trillion by the end of this recession – which could last 4-5 years or conceivably as long as 10 years if adequate action is not taken quickly enough (which happened in Japan). This staggering total debt amount includes lost tax revenue, fiscal stimulus, and bailouts.
It is always difficult for an individual to assess the damage that he has created in his life by the choices he has made in fear rather than love. The banking industry does not make choices in love and the full extent of the devastation its choices have created is terrifying to acknowledge. However, this acknowledgement is necessary to creating differently.
As we take our first steps towards spiritual maturity, we become less interested in blaming others for our experiences and more interested in using them to learn what we need to change about ourselves in order to move into our full potential. For example, when a marriage dissolves, a child runs away, or a global economy becomes dysfunctional we can make choices in fear – and recreate the damage – or in love and create differently.
Distinguishing love from fear and choosing love instead of fear in daily choices is the heart of spiritual development. This distinction, and the lack of it, can be seen on the macro level, such as the economic and foreign policies of nations, and on the micro level, such as the choices that individuals make when they are in power struggles or they feel that they cannot obtain enough, no matter how much or little they actually have.
Predatory lending and predatory borrowing appear to have created the housing bubble and, therefore, the dysfunction of global banking when it burst but beneath these actions lays the impulse to acquire the most, hoard the most, and obtain more without regard for the effects of these actions on others and the Earth. Without, in fact, regard for their effects upon ourselves. The need that exists in each of us to acquire as much as possible for as little as possible fueled those who actually sold mortgages to individuals who were unqualified to buy them, those who purchased mortgages they could never repay, those who packaged these uncollectable mortgages as “securities” and sold them again, those who repackaged those “securities” and sold ownership in the same uncollectable mortgages yet again, and those who bought them – each striving to extract maximal gain. All of these individuals were our proxies, acting out a dynamic in which we all participate and, in the process, reflecting to us what lies within each of us and its impact upon our collective.
This is the biggest illusion – that we are not responsible for our experiences, individual or collective; that we are victims of the actions of others – and it gives birth to myriad more illusions. In the realm of economics it gives birth to the illusion that indefinite (“sustainable”) growth is not only possible and desirable, but also necessary. The sooner we face the damage that we have created and “face the music” (pay the price of fixing it), Professor Rogoff explains, the sooner the economy will grow again. At this point his thoughtful analysis is only one step away from the heart of the matter – from the heart of spiritual growth, as odd as that may sound.
Nothing in the physical world grows indefinitely without killing its host. Indefinite economic growth – ever-increasing gross domestic products – is no more possible than indefinite cellular growth, except the growth of new cells to replace those that die naturally. That is not the economic paradigm. In the economic paradigm, indefinite growth of the organism is necessary to the health of the organism. This illusion has no future, except perhaps some very painful ones. In spiritual terms, “indefinitely sustainable economic growth” is an expression of the fathomless needs of frightened parts of the personality that perpetually strive for the ability to manipulate and control circumstances (including people) in order to feel safe and valuable. In the realms of economics and commerce, that is the accumulation of wealth.
Developing the ability to distinguish love from fear and choosing the former instead of the latter is the opportunity that presents itself continually to individuals and collectives. It is presenting itself to us now in the form of our failed economic system. Utilizing this opportunity will require a cocreation involving all of us that will be as different from previous economic systems as a life of love is different from a life of fear – an economic system that contributes to Life instead of exploiting it. The cocreation of that system and your creation of a life of love are inseparable.
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Loved your previous post also.
posted by Linda Pendleton: April 9, 2009 at 2:42 PM Delete:
Also, as Gary did in this post, it is helpful for me to be reminded of the elephant in the room: fear. It is amazing how often I forget that I can choose which emotions to cultivate, love-based or fear-based and the opportunity this choice presents. I am eager to cultivate love in this moment and moving forward.
Thanks for your perspective and encouragement Gary!
posted by marconegro: April 13, 2009 at 2:24 PM Delete:
I love the truth of these words!
posted by ...being here, doing this...: April 23, 2009 at 12:05 AM Delete:
posted by grazingfire: April 27, 2009 at 5:50 PM Delete:
A while back, I heard a radio interview with Gary where he mentioned that PRAYING, on its own, is not enough. We also need to do the work required to bring about change - both in ourselves, and in the world around us.
I pray for change, but I have also discovered another joyful way of putting that prayer into action:
Through creating and/or sharing inspirational music.
PRAYING FOR CHANGE becomes the basis, the intention that inspires loving action....
PLAYING FOR CHANGE is an example of this loving action - action that stems from the prayerful intention to co-create from a place of love, rather than fear.
Here is one of the remarkable outcomes of this project so far - a music video co-created worldwide, to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.
It is infectiously inspiring and fulfilling!...
Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me"
...as is the act of sharing it!
posted by ...being here, doing this...: April 29, 2009 at 9:54 PM Delete:
There is so much we could do to restore this country. The CCC back in the depression created parks and put people to work. It is time to end the fragmentation of our people and our world.
Great Smoky Mountain Lady
posted by : November 13, 2009 at 1:34 PM Delete:
Thanks Gary and Linda for a glimpse of Authentic Power and the love and compassion that naturally drives it. Blessings Roger.
posted by Roger Stephens: September 15, 2010 at 5:53 AM Delete:
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