One of the best songs John Lennon ever wrote was Imagine. I have seen it reposted around the net. Each time, people rant and rave about the song and its message of no religions, no countries, no wars, no hunger, no hate. It is a great message and it reaches just about everyone it touches. It is one of those profound songs that is beautifully written. You can’t help but get drawn in and really imagine what a world would be like if we removed those things that divide us, and learn to live as one. Yet, as often as it is admired for its message of unity and peace, that is where it ends.
How many of us really could envision living without countries or borders? I mean, we have heard so much about the “illegal” immigration problem here in the US. A problem, that if you ask any of the indigenous people of the Americas, they will say it goes back to 1492. The thing is that groups back before Europeans came with their idea of owning everything, land was shared. Oh each had their own territory or bioregion. Yet, people travelled freely. If one goes to the Southwest and learns about the early cultures, the Anasazi, the Sinagua, Hohokam, Solado, or Mogollon, you would find that they had trade routes with South America. Passports, they didn’t need no stinking passports. People travelled freely between areas. Yes, there were conflicts. These were usually as one society outgrew its bioregion and needed to expand, or if they encountered severe conditions like drought that caused resources to dwindle. It wasn’t perfect, but in a way, it symbolized the idea of no countries, no boundaries.
One of the other reasons that we have conflict is over religions. I wonder how many people realize that when they talk about Muslims and “their God”, they are really talking about the Christian God and the Jewish God, since all are descended from Abraham. These three religions are based in the same root, yet are constantly at conflict with one another. They are all praying to the same God, whether they call him Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Jehovah, or simply the Creator. Yet, for centuries they have been at war. Not only between the three religious branches, but also within sects within those branches, like the Sunni and Shi’a, or between the Roman Catholics and Methodists. I read that even the two Methodist branches don’t recognize each other. There was a Methodist minister who took part in the memorial after 9/11 and the leadership wanted to excommunicate him. The reasoning that in attending the service, he was acknowledging these other religions. It becomes less about God and more about who’s way of praising is right. The Hindu have a teaching:
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn’t matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone else that their path is wrong.”
I love this teaching because it preaches acceptance of all paths. To each his own, so to speak. The Wiccan have a simpler creed, “An it harm none do what ye will.”
Now just think of all the wars fought over religious ideology, and then think, imagine no religions too.
John recognized the basis for a lot of our conflicts was religious or resources. Bioregionalist have been telling us for a while that we really need to get back to living within regions and in groups only so large as the region can support. This would require us to rethink the way we do things. Instead of being a consumptive society, we would have live more as the Native Americans originally lived. Take only what you need to survive and give back as you can. Scientists have shown that the earth is a living, breathing thing. It has managed to regulate the environment so as to support life over millenia. If you want to understand more about bioregionalism, I suggest reading, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision, Kirkpatrick Sale. So imagine no countries, it isn’t hard to do. Nothing to live or die for, and no religion too.
I’d like to take John’s dream a little further. We have gotten ourselves caught in a trap. We have bought into the whole consumer venus flytrap and we can’t seem to get out. I heard on the radio the other day that one prognosticator thinks that we need to make more of everything and then the people will start buying again. The problem is that they keep dumping people’s jobs so that the people don’t have the money to buy the things in the first place. His premise was all backwards in that he believed that supply creates demand instead of the other way around. Well, okay, that might work for an iPhone, but not for most things. Of course, if we put more people back to work, that might increase demand and then they would have to up the supply, but hey, what do I know. Now imagine if you will, I know it will be hard, but imagine a world without money.
One of my favorite scenes in the Star Trek movie, First Contact, was when Picard tells Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard) to have something to drink. She asks where to put the money and he tells her that they no longer used money. So we have an example of a society without money right there in front of us. Though we hear how we could never do that for this reason or that, Gene Roddenberry dreamed it and put it in his vision. So think for a moment, what it would be like not ever having to worry about money ever again. Oh yes, I could imagine that once we did something like that, everyone would go wild wanting to get all those things they always wanted but never could afford. Yet, once the dust settles and we realize that it will be there and we aren’t going to be without, the desire may just dwindle a bit.
Let’s take this vision just a bit further. Imagine if there were no money. Rather than base things on budgets and profits and bonuses, it would be based more on need. I have heard the argument that we would have no innovation as the removal of profit would remove the desire to create new things. That is utter hogwash. Man has been innovating and inventing long before we were rendering unto Caesar.
Now imagine this world where everyone could have a home. Of course, the homes would be more modest. They probably would be self-sufficient as we would have solar panels on all the roofs. Since there was no need for profit and control of the food chain, companies like Monsanto would have no need to create seed they can patent in order to corner the market on our food chain. So that would mean that small farms could come back. Part of the reason they were gone is they were forced out by the commercial farms that could sell produce much cheaper due to sheer volume. The net affect would be that the small farms would come back strong because not having to compete on price, they would floor the competition on quality. We would also have much more diversity in our product. Mega-farms usually plant one maybe two strains. We lose the diversity. Of course, this is a problem because if a disease affects one strain, it could wipe out their whole crop. We obviously didn’t learn our lesson from the Irish potato famine. The wiped out crops caused hardship and many Irish immigrated to the US during that time. Meanwhile, down in South America, the blight attacked their potatoes too, only difference is, they had more than one variety, so the affect was much less.
Without the need for profit, we might just press for new energy sources that were safe and clean. We wouldn’t have special interest groups and corporations bribing, oh sorry, making campaign donations, to our representatives in order to protect their own interests. We might be able to get some of our best minds working towards real solutions. Of course, we might even find new minds because now even the poorest of the poor could get higher education because they would no longer be shackled by a lack of funds.
There are a lot more ideas floating around in my mind. I can really envision this world without money. I can envision people being able to work in careers they really would love to work in. I could really see that kid that was drawn to medicine, but could not afford a college education, becoming the doctor that finally eradicates cancer once and for all. While many see many as an ultimate goal. I see it as the shackles that bind man from soaring to higher heights. We can be ever greater, more environmentally balanced, more connected to each other, more aware of our impact on the world, if we were unshackled from the delusion that we need to accumulate wealth or we are nothing. Until mankind realizes that the greatest wealth is that of the heart, we are forever going to be shackled and unable to truly make our spirits soar.
Until part two, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.