An experiment to align money with values
A rainy Saturday, grey pattering rain, cosy in front of a fire on a rug with a close friend. A slightly strange night before. Some tension between us.
“I didn’t feel like being close to you last night or this morning” says my friend
“It’s a relief to hear you say that. I was feeling it too but was a little scared to bring it up. Where is that tension coming from do you think?” I ask.
We dig into it with some questions.
And it totally surprises me where we get to.
My wonderful friend tells me she doesn’t love herself, that she feels completely in-genuine.
I would never have guessed. She has such great energy, and I constantly see her creating strong connections and creating joy and curiosity with the people we meet. She is always openly appreciative of the wonderful things I and other people do, which really means a lot to me, and them too. She helps me navigate my own challenges, and we laugh a lot together. Real belly laughs.
But when I ask her what she loves about herself, she can’t think of a single thing.
Huh. I’ve been there before.
So. I’m not there now. How did I get out of that space?
But one of the most helpful things for her, therapy, requires money that she doesn’t have.
Oh wait, I am kaitiaki of a bunch of money. I’m looking for great social investments. From discussion with her, this seems like an obviously awesome investment:
- My friend has a hugely positive effect on everyone around her — supporting her helps her support and bring joy to many others
- She could learn a bunch of interesting techniques from a therapist to incorporate into her own informal community counselling service
- She is already doing great things for society in a really wonderful loving humble way, and could likely have an even bigger positive effect by finding self love with therapy
- By accepting help, getting therapy and being open about it, she could massively help many of her friends who really need help but can’t accept they need help
Money can be difficult to give and receive gracefully.
“And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.” — The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
This is difficult, but receiving gracefully is even harder:
“And you receivers… and you are all receivers… assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.” — The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
Realising this, we thought we’d try an experiment…
There are a lot of people who could be freed to contribute more wonderful things to society if they had more money.
There are a lot of people who have more money than they need to be healthy and connected, like me.
Some of these people with extra money would like to share it, but don’t know how to gracefully.
To prototype a graceful, healthy approach to sharing money and resources.
- Recognise that $$ is only one resource. Other people are kaitiaki of other resources, like love, music, care, exploration, and this is actually just making money work like all these other resources. — spending music creates more music — spending money creates more money — investment works.
2. Step away from the money
3. Define the values aligned with the money and the roles (kaitiakitanga) attached to it
4. Bring in other people as kaitiaki
I invited my friend to be Kaitiaki of $3000. To spend it as she saw fit, for the good of our community, with the suggestion that one good investment would be some therapy for herself.
“Wait, what if I have to talk to people who aren’t so open about these things? That might be really difficult.” She says
“Huh. Now do you see where I’m coming from?”
This is the first positive outcome of the experiment.
These are the challenges we worked through:
- Not feeling bound by the money
- Not feeling pressure or expectations on outcomes
- To be able to be open about it
What was really helpful was a change in language and perception. There is no giving without receiving, so my friend had the idea to talk about sharing, rather than giving and receiving.
Giving + Receiving 🢂 Sharing + Sharing
Giving and receiving has an associated power dynamic in our communities. Let’s get away from that.
Focusing on things that we value in life — the health and well-being of people and our planet, took the focus and ‘heaviness’ away from the money. After all, money is just one of many tools to develop and maintain the things we value.
My friend got the therapy she needed, and is again now out sharing her skills, love and affection with everyone she meets.
Being able to talk with her friends and people she met about accepting and going through therapy helped those people accept the need for therapy themselves.
An open question:
Do we leave redistribution of material wealth to Government? To organisations like the Red Cross? Or is there more space for personal responsibility for redistribution between people in communities?
I’m just starting to learn about this area — I’m interested to hear your thoughts, experiences and recommendations of resources where I can learn more.