I’ve been exploring the idea of alternative economies recently, and realized that something kept causing friction in me when it came to discussing the idea of a “gift economy”.
I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew it had something to do with the idea that a gift economy didn’t seem to be capable of reconciling our evolving, flowing, ebbing needs and gifts.
I know that there are many forms of capital and many forms of alternative economies, but when it came to trying to determine the logistics of how a gift economy would actually provide for everyone, I kept finding myself with an inherent desire to keep some kind of balance sheet to prove its worth and efficacy.
It seemed to me that I must be missing something, or that maybe my intellect was “getting in its own way”, until I came across this article.
From Sharing Economy To Gift Ecology
I think that my cognitive dissonance was being caused by the difference in the actual nature, or definition of, “economy”, and how I and a lot of other people define it or see it operating as a Transactional system.
I personally think of a transactional system as one that inherently maintains a series of checks and balances, in order to meet certain needs. But I think that true Gifting doesn’t keep track. And it is actually unconcerned with meeting needs or numbers. It is an act of selflessness, and nothing more, whether it is received in that spirit, or not. There is no expectation.
In nature, everything provides for everything else, just by being what it is. The outputs of one become the inputs of the other and so on. There are no blance sheets. It is a perfect, almost effortless ecology.
And so, looking at it as a “Gift ECOLOGY”, rather than economy, fixed everything for me by viewing it as a web of relationships, rather than transactions, therefore shifting the actual nature and function of it in my mind.
“Economy reduces value into a few focused dimensions, whereas ecology implies a more intricate interplay of relationships that generate diversified — sometimes immeasurable — value.”
I actually saw a video with a member of the organization publishing this article, and he mentioned how, after Hurricane Katrina, the only things left standing were not houses or building, etc., but old oak trees. This was because they had deep, deep roots, that also intertangled with the deep roots of other oaks, sometimes forming chains as long as a hundred miles. He saw this is an example of a Gift Ecology, where the relationships between the trees created immeasurable value, while asking for nothing in return.
I think that this is really what people long for- a sense of deep, rooted connection, coupled with the meeting of needs, and so I would love to see the idea of a “Gift Ecology” take off and eventually make the word “economy” obsolete.