Sustainability Amid Scarcity

In the face of dramatic economic dislocation, the bogyman de jour, and unrelenting change, how will I divine how to proceed, whether individually or collectively? At what level of collaboration should I be concerned anyway?

A new magazine called “Yes!” has sprung up in the Pacific Northwest whose focus has great relevance to this question. Its mission is to support you and other people worldwide in building a just, sustainable, and compassionate world. The new summer edition is completely dedicated to articles about “The New Economy” which address the opening question in this blog posting head-on.

One article, “Age-Old Wisdom for the New Economy” is an interview with Rebecca Adamson, a distinguished Native American leader. She shares indigenous people’s age-old knowledge that drives to the heart of the matter of who to be with regard to the entire swirl around us. Following are a few of the many highlights in that article.

“An indigenous system is based on prosperity, creation, kinship, and a sense of enough-ness. It is about sharing.” She contrasts that with our recent economic gain focused society where “individual property rights are treated as exclusive.” She observes that a background of scarcity, or the notion that there’s not enough, drives this focus - we’re going to run out of _____ (fill in the blank for yourself).

We find scarcity running rampant with many of our clients. There’s not enough money, not enough time, not enough good people, not enough responsibility, not enough you name it. We also see many people pointing fingers at others for trying to get “theirs,” - Wall St. bankers going after huge pay and bonuses, for example - without realizing that it is the very paradigm in which our economic lives have been built that is at the root of the problem. You and I are not immune to, or separate from, that paradigm. It has been said that fish don’t know they are in water.

We invite you to examine where, in your own life, scarcity is running the show. What are the consequences of that belief, both for you and for those around you? What is it costing to allow that way of being to continue?

Rebecca offers an antidote that we invite you to try on for a period of time long enough for you to observe its effects. “Maintain the stance of abundance through tough times and through good times by having a spiritual base and good values - by caring about something other than yourself.” She continues, “Abundance comes not from stuff. In fact, stuff is an indication of non-abundance. Abundance is in the sacred: it’s in the connection of love. We find abundance through hard times when we find each other.”

The way we express her perspective is that abundance is a place to come from, a context to generate for your life and the lives of those around you. It takes intentional intervention on your part into the everyday noise of talking heads, threat levels, crises, and very real changes to the way things have worked or been done in the past. Generate it and then generate it again and again. Notice how your relationship with abundance/scarcity shifts. Discover how what you do and how you do it takes on new direction and meaning.