The call of our time
written by Bernard Lietaer in 2010 and originally published on his own website.
I post this text to remember the life and incredible work of Bernard Lietaer, who passed away on February 4, 2019. Bernard, whom Eddy and I had the honour to meet a few times, was a brilliant economist, professor and author. He has studied monetary systems for almost 40 years and promoted the idea that communities can benefit from creating their own local currencies.
Read the text below to find out why.
Humanity is at a critical juncture.
As Paul Hawken succinctly put it in his memorable address to Portland University’s graduate class in May of 2009, “civilization needs a new operating system,” and fast. Why? Because many of the socio-economic rules under which we operate were created under a worldview that failed to recognize that the earth is a living system and that every form of life has its unique and valuable place and purpose in sustaining the larger web of life. By ignoring the conditions that support the health of our ecosystems and communities, we have inadvertently fouled our nest, and jeopardized the future of our children. We are now awakening to the fact that the ways of thinking, strategies and systems that made the industrial age possible, have also fueled the myriad crises that are now upon us: great financial instability, the breakdown of community, growing disparities of wealth, resource wars, alarming rates of species extinction and ecosystem depletion, and accelerating symptoms of climate change. As our food, energy, health, education, economic and financial systems show increasing signs of failing us, we are being collectively called to harness our creativity and resources to take a major evolutionary leap. Transitioning from our self-destructive ways to life-affirming understandings, lifestyles and systems is indeed the great work of our times.
The Great Work
How do we turn things around? How can we reverse the downward spiral in which much of our world has been caught? The good news is that a fast growing movement of communities, businesses, not-for-profits, and governments around the world is hard at work on this very question. Many experiments are under way on all continents, and there are already many success stories and inspiring new models to point to. Neither creativity nor good intentions are lacking, so why is it that so many change makers around the world often feel that they are swimming upstream? Is there a better and more effective way to harness and direct all the creativity and energy unleashed by our current predicament? My answer is ‘yes,’ but only if we start paying attention to a piece of the puzzle that is currently not on our radar: our monetary system.
Re-inventing our monetary system
For the growing movement of communities, organizations and governments working to turn things around, the most daunting challenge often revolves around money:
How do we find the money needed to transform our energy, food and health infrastructures, to eradicate unemployment and create green jobs, clean up the environment, and ensure that people have proper access to housing, education and meaningful work? Have you ever wondered why cash shortage so bottlenecks our best efforts and initiatives when we actually live in a world where there is neither a shortage of things needing to get done, nor a shortage of people wanting to do them?
The answer to this question has to do with the monopoly of the kind of money system we use, which is the source of the scarcity which so many people experience, and the root cause of a great number of our problems. Our money system was designed a long time ago and is now out of date. It is particularly ill equipped to help us solve the pervasive socio-economic and ecological challenges facing us today. In a bird’s eye view of both my work and my website, I explain why the transformation of our money system is critical to resolving the challenges of our times and many of the issues you care about. I also explain that monetary diversity is just as important to human survival as bio-diversity is to the fate of the earth.
A number of pioneering governments, businesses and communities around the world have successfully experimented with new monetary systems for years, and with great results. We have at our disposal all the monetary tools we need to reduce poverty, clean up the environment, and provide access to meaningful work, housing and health care. It is now time to use them on a larger scale. A world of sustainable abundance is actually possible, but only if we are willing to upgrade our monetary system so that we can begin to leverage true human wealth, which is our energy and creativity.
Will you please join me in making sure that we do not miss this opportunity? Your own future, the future of your children, and of this extraordinary planet is at stake.