Wealth-Building That is Good for You & Nature
Last week’s post was a cliffhanger: there is no contradiction between asking for what you really want and the greater good. Also, there is is no way you can manipulate the greater good, which was a concern one of our dear readers raised.* But then, we ended the post on this note:
We aren’t used to thinking about wealth-building as good for us and good for Nature. Learning how to do it is worthy work.
So ok, how do you build wealth in a way that is good for you & Nature?
How to Think About Wealth-Building That is Good for You & Nature
There are just two things to remember when we start to think about wealth-building that is good for us & Nature:
- Wealth means wellbeing
- “[Nature’s] eco-mental system…is a part of your wider eco-mental system…if [Nature] is driven insane, its insanity is incorporated in the larger system of your thought and experience.” (Gregory Bateson)**
These two things sum it up. These two things are everything.
Don’t Confuse Wealth with Money
The webpage where I found #2’s quote (since it was burned into my mind during dissertation research) offers us another Bateson passage I think is vital in this connection we are exploring:
Money, is you know, a pseudo-biological goal. True biological goals are always limited. Always what you want is an optimum quantity–of oxygen, calcium, protein, psychotherapy, love, whatever it is. We think about money as if it would be nice to maximize our supply of it, and hence also to maximize our supply of oxygen, calcium, protein, psychotherapy, and what have you.
Maximizing these things always makes them toxic. In the real biological world, every desirable object becomes toxic beyond a certain point, except money. Money is in this sense a fake. It is an imposed value structure, an imposed metaphor which does not fit that which we are talking about. It’s a quantitative metaphor which does not fit the world of pattern. It is an epistemological blunder. (Italics are in the original, boldfacing is mine)
So the game is up: there actually is nothing we can even call “wealth” that is bad for Nature. If it’s just “more money,” it’s not just wealth, pun intended. Let’s not to confuse wealth with money.
Peaceful and Ethical Money May Be Wealth
When we came up with the explanation line for RAISING CLARITY: “peaceful and ethical money management and nonprofit fundraising,” we honestly weren’t thinking about it being good for humans and Nature. We were thinking about how making, spending, investing, and donating money can feel good within oneself, can feel peaceful if we are in alignment when we do it. And we were thinking about how it feels good within oneself if it is ethical toward other people.
But as we go deeper into what peaceful & ethical mean, it’s clear they have to include Nature. We have to be in peaceful alignment with Nature’s larger “eco-mental system,” and this naturally brings us into a more ethical (non-exploitative, sustainable, optimized (per the quote above) relationship with ourselves, each other (nearby and across the globe), and Nature.
By definition, this would also be fit our definition and exploration of collaborative wealth.
I will sit with these things this week, and hope you might as well. Next week, we’ll explore how to do wealth-building that is good for you & Nature–by starting with thinking and then and only then, with doing.
*This concern inspired the blog post, which earned him a half-hour of coaching, free!
**Gregory Bateson (better known as Margaret Mead’s husband 🙂 from Steps to an Ecology of Mind, which was written in the 1970s, and uses the example of Lake Erie which was in everyone’s mind at that time. I’ve substituted Nature for Lake Erie in the quote, but the italics are Bateson’s. You’ll find a lovely discussion of this part of Bateson’s work here.