Thoughts from the heartlands (on money)

Night Stories by Rudolph Carl Gorman

A native American elder and her grandson gaze over to the towers of high-rise finance from a reservation on the margins…

Grandma, why is everyone over there so worried about their money system, and why do all those government bail-outs of trillions of dollars not seem to make any difference?

Grandson, they can’t see that money is the problem, not the solution. Money has come between people and life. It was meant as a medium of exchange but has become distorted so that modern society now sees it as a store of value. This is wrong. How can pieces of paper or numbers on a screen have value? How can chopping down trees and polluting water create value? The problem is that the value of money is no longer anchored to life. It has taken over the minds of those dependent on it, so that they suffer, as if from an addiction. They cannot see when their drive for money results not in life but in death. There is an old Cree proverb that goes something like: “Only when the last tree has withered, the last fish has been caught, and the last river has been poisoned, will you realize you cannot eat money.”

The financiers pushing mortgages on to people who couldn’t afford them enticed people to live beyond their means. But the problem runs much deeper than that. The modern financial system is forcing us all to live beyond our ecological means.

We can see what this translates to all around us. Take Peabody Coal. This company is pushing for a permit that would allow it to mine as much coal as they can from the Black Mesa site here in Arizona, for as long as they like, until all the coal is gone, using pristine aquifer water at a rate of 550,000 cubic feet a day. This is sacred water to the Navajo and us Hopi. And we know what strip-mining does to the land and what burning fossil fuels is doing to our climate.

There are examples everywhere. If this culture doesn’t arrest its onward exchange of death for money, the entire biosphere will collapse. The economic system must be redesigned and linked with love and life. It is time that people woke up to where the wealth is.

This fictional account was written thanks to inspiration from John ‘Fire’ Lame Deer and Richard Erdoes (‘Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions’); Charles Eisenstein (‘The Ascent of Humanity’) and various authors in ‘Original Instructions, Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future’.

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