No matter where we direct it or what our intention is, money forms puddles. In those puddles, we find organisations where money gathers not by virtue but by design. The financial services industry, the banking sector, and those who enforce and protect them and the rules they play by from all manner of security to the politicians inextricably connected to them. In between the puddles are the areas from which the money drains into those puddles – public healthcare, education,and social services amongst them. No matter how much money we direct at them, it finds its way into the puddles.
It would be satisfying to say that those splashing around in the puddles are bad people. The trouble is, they’re not (well, the vast majority anyway – we can all think of exceptions that prove the rule). It struck me forcibly when I spent time with people from some of the puddles at play – real play, creative, generative, imaginative, absorbing, engaging play. They were using money but not flaunting it, with not a celebrity in sight. On the contrary, they were a pleasure to be with – funny, thoughtful, and generous of spirit.
So how, I wonder, have we created a system where money puddles rather than flows? Isolated pockets rather than a stream, where money grows rancid rather than nurturing life in the way a river does?
I suspect that the answer is that we have given money an identity we value more than life. As a result, we process life into money rather than money into life. We have institutionalised that ability into our values and embedded it into our legal frameworks for business. We treat inanimate businesses as people, with all the privileges but none of the responsibilities. Over two hundred years, what started as a sensible and creative approach to developing commerce has evolved into a breeding ground for psychopathic corporations. We have created a wetiko, the mythical beast that grows in proportion to what it consumes, such that it remains forever ravenous, consuming all it comes across.
Puddles don’t help anybody, and we need to resurface our society such that money flows where it needs to sustain life in all its forms. There are very few bad people, but there are many destructive behaviours we all indulge in encouraged by the systems we have created, from overconsumption to hoarding to disconnection from each other and the rest of life on the planet.
We don’t have an engineering problem; we have a connection problem, and we will not change the system until we start talking to each other openly about what we see, think, fear, hope and dream for our children’s future. We need to decide what we will each do in our small way to change things because small cumulative changes work far better than trying to put the Wetiko on a diet.
The Wetiko is not interested.