We all have our own beliefs, fascinations, foibles. We all scratch at and create reality in different ways. Everybody is unique. We are all on our own journeys. We make our own short cuts and our own mazes. We can learn from each other if we choose to and we can choose not to if we have a mind to. The world turns either way. From moment to flickering moment we are our own source of light and our own darkness. Humans struggling, shuddering and snuggling with being, sometimes at the same time.
If that sounds a bit like woolly-minded relativism then you can be surprised by the ramifications. We have our own way of doing things. First, and perhaps foremost we support co-operative learning. The games and activities in these pages, and the material we sell are designed to be used non-competitively. If you're looking for war toys to teach English you'd better look elsewhere. Having said this our products don't fall into the cuddly bunny and syrup category either. There's a certain sickness and most of us have it. Collectively we've plundered and squandered the bounty of the Earth. We're choking the planet with our filth. We've created and are creating poisons that will exist for thousands of years. We're polluting the gene pool by releasing unknowable life forms into the environment. We stockpile weapons and bombs for our frequent orgies of destruction, each more devastating than the last. Some of us still kill each other in the name of peace. We allow cruel inanities to be the norm and shield ourselves from our actions (and lack of them) with thick layers of cynicism all the while wallowing in self-pity we call individualism. It's a mess folks. Let's do something about it.
It's been said that money is the root of all evil, although George Bernard Shaw suggested the opposite. He commented that all evil is rooted in lack of money and that makes some sense. Here at Wise Hat we consider money to be an artificial device for storing up energy. A far better candidate for the root of all evil is exploitation. Even the very syllables ooze corruption. Callousness is but a breath away.
Exploitation is give and take. Take what the other gives and then take some more. Take what the other doesn't want to give and take some more. Give a little, take a lot, or give nothing at all. Just remember to take. Which brings us to profit, the driving force of capitalism.
Basically one person's profit is another person's loss. The amount of profit made is a measure of the amount of exploitation. If a system is yielding large profits, then somewhere, somehow some people are being victimised.
Poppycock! Fallacy! Communist!
I can hear crashing in the intellectual undergrowth. Something is grumbling. Sounds like the horns of dilemma, or perhaps just a trombone of contention. Oh, not quite, it's just the raspy farts of bloated capitalists. What about free trade they pipe, what about intellectual property rights they prate.
Colourful rhetoric is a poor excuse for argument (remember that next time you feel inclined to listen to a president). But isn't it strange how in English the word argument can be both the construction of reasoning and a polite word for a quarrel? Why is competition almost inherent in the formulation of our thought? So much illusion.
Citing free trade in the defence of an economic system that prizes exploitation is pretty much a non-starter. As long as nation states exist, as long as the free movement of people is restricted there can be no free trade. Free trade is the rallying cry for those who want access to markets. The cry of those who want new avenues of exploitation. Given the present economic structures we use, free trade exacerbates exploitation rather than curbs it. It does so by creating a race to the bottom in which people suffer increasing exploitation so that governments and companies can attract foreign investment.
Calling on intellectual property rights is more interesting. Ideas come from nowhere don't they? Where is the exploitation in the wealth that, say, the Harry Potter series created? I don't know enough about the merchandising to comment. But I do know that large pharmaceutical firms are trying to use intellectual property rights to protect the profits they are making from drugs to combat aids. I do know that licensing depends upon monopoly power. I do know that an economic system that leaves millions of people suffering and dying in poverty offends me. And I know that exploitation is the root cause.
So, here at Wise Hat we are going to do things a little differently. We all still working things out, we are experimenting, but our aim is clear. We are going to initiate a giving economy.
The essence of the current system is taking. Buyers and sellers manipulate to take as much as they can. Pricing, systems of distribution, marketing are all formulated around the premise of maximising taking. We're going to work the other way round. We'll let you try before you pay and we'll let you decide the price. We'll give you the choice. You can avoid exploiting us by being honest. You can place your own value on what you get from us. After all, who can do it but you? You generate your own thoughts and feelings. You'll know. We can make the world a beautiful place if we choose to. It all starts inside. It starts with our own thoughts.
You can help create a giving economy too. Like ripples in water, giving can spread. If you use our products, if you like our ideas, send us some energy so we can keep on creating them. But send some energy elsewhere too. I'm not talking about faceless charity contributions but genuine giving. Give some energy to someone you meet or know. It can be money but it doesn't need to be. Give a gift, give time, give a little living.
And the fear will go.
And love will take it's place.
First draft, Jacob's Birthday, May 27th 2001