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Video of the Day: Money and Life

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
6th November 2012


Can we use the opportunity of the economic crisis to re-discover real wealth and true prosperity and transition to a sustainable, equitable and restorative economic system for the 21st century?

This project conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign to get started and has started to place draft interviews here.

Here’s the trailer:

Money & Life trailer from Katie Teague on Vimeo.

Kelly McCartney conducted an interview for Shareable magazine:

Katie Teague’s Money & Life documentary asks us to look at money in a whole new way.

I’ve watched quite a few — too many, perhaps — documentaries that move in a similar circle to Money & Life, but without its grace. Sure, finger pointing is one avenue to accountability, but you seem to take a different approach to that tarmac by choosing to shun the angry, conspiracy-based cynicism in favor of a forward-looking, solution-based optimism. Is that a fair analysis?

That is a fair take on my approach, and it’s always interesting and informing to see/hear others’ perspectives on what I’m up to. Before I jumped off the cliff into the world of filmmaking four years ago, I worked as a psychotherapist. And, as a therapist, I could see that finger pointing — while, yes, it has its important place in terms of accountability — only goes so far and ultimately keeps us mired in a level of division and separation that, to me, is so clearly the root source of the suffering in our lives and in the world. If we stop at finger pointing, we get stuck in distraction, seduced by the momentary feel-good of blame and judgment. That’s certainly not healing. True healing is simultaneously an awakening to a deeper truth. And my impulse to make a film had everything to do with healing our disconnection from our own deeper nature, with one another, with the earth, and the wondrous world of creation.

I had decided to make a documentary film before I decided to make a film about money. Then, in September 2008, when the financial and economic crisis was coming into sharp relief, I simply had a knowing all of a sudden that the documentary would be about money. It was equal parts knowing that I needed to expose and dive into my own ignorance and avoidance of the Great Taboo and equal parts intuiting that some significant energy was locked up in the shadows of our relationship with money.

Inevitably in my research for the film, I fell down the conspiracy theory wormhole and logged many hours on the Internet overcome with fascination and horror, and experiencing a decoding of what I thought was real. This was definitely an important part of the journey. Some of the information floating in abundance is true and some of it not and I don’t know which is which.

But, at the end of the day, my actions are the same no matter the relative truth. It’s just too convenient to name the evildoers as purely other and call it done. Don’t get me wrong; I think holding those who commit evil actions accountable is important. I also see it from another level, where the force of evil plays a role in the evolution of a greater whole, and that I am not separate from that. This has implications at the material level, as well as psychological and spiritual. My charge was to create a film that transcended blame and judgment, while highlighting the real precariousness of the situation we are in at the same time.

My approach has been more of a 10,000-foot perspective over the landscape of money, couching the economic crisis in a larger evolutionary context that sees the possibility of breakthrough as a corollary to the breaking down of systems. At some point, I even dropped the standard polar framing of “problem-solution.” While you could say this film is “solution-based,” I prefer to say it’s emergence-based. It’s actually a pretty significant change of framing because, in reality, we don’t know the solutions from where we stand. Solutions tend to arise from the old thinking or worldview. And I think we are on the cusp of a new era that’s pregnant with emergent possibility. The language of solutions feels too small. This film will be criticized for not providing clear-cut solutions in action-list fashion. It doesn’t tell people what to do. Rather, it paints a panoramic portrait of where we are and the patterns of what’s emerging in this now-identified space of “the new economy.”

You interviewed some amazing thinkers for this project, Thom Hartmanm, Jean Houston, and (a personal hero of mine) Dr. Vandana Shiva among them. One of the points raised in the trailer is that money has evolved from a means of wealth to a measure of wealth and an “object of spiritual veneration.” Do you see us collectively reverting back to an earlier model or creating an entirely new economic system altogether?

In my view, there is no “back” to revert to. I think the genuine opportunity of this time is that we can consciously choose not to revert because we see clear-as-day that it’s not even possible. Instead, we have the monumental and inspiring challenge to collaborate with our own awareness in bringing forward a new system that is adequate and relevant to the exact moment of time we are living in. As Hazel Henderson says in the film, “We have a big redesign job, from top to bottom … and that ought to be fun because everyone can be involved.” I love that line! It’s daunting but inviting and really pointing us forward not back.

We have an astonishing amount of knowledge at our fingertips, we have access to all the world’s wisdom traditions, we have the informing vantage point of what we call history (We can save the debate on “history” for later.), and we can see what’s happening on the other side of the planet virtually as it’s happening. The gift of the in-formation age is the capacity to infuse the world of form with conscious creation. The shadow, of course, is a tragic disorganization and fragmentation from overload. We’re at a really epic confluence on the planet of which globalization is more effect than cause. I see globalization as a reflection of a deeper evolutionary process or planetary initiation, that’s a whole-scale shift in human consciousness and capacity.

I think the challenge of our time is to bring together all these unique streams of knowledge, of memory, of tribe, to re-member and re-source the brilliance and healthy manifested impulses that have come before, to retain that goodness and integrate it into forms and practices that are more relevant to the reality of today.

Let’s bring that inquiry into the realm of the economy. There’s a lot of talk about returning to the gold standard. Okay, maybe there is some wisdom in the essence of this idea of “return,” though maybe it’s not about the exact form of gold. Probably we do need to re-link the money to what’s real on the planet, but can we find ways that are more adequate to the world we are living in than the days of the gold standard? Can we find ways that reflect the real abundance of the planet while also reflecting the need for sustainability and re-generativity? Nothing is static in the world of becoming, so how do we build an economic system that builds in eventual disruption and the emergence of new forms? We are in an extraordinary moment of global emergence. Not even the so-called experts know what’s coming or what we should do.

That we are losing faith in the experts and the powers-that-be is a good sign. Then we are pressed to turn back towards ourselves and towards our local communities, to acknowledge our inner and outer assets and leverage them for some new goodness.”

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One Response to “Video of the Day: Money and Life”

  1. Mike Riddell Says:

    Can’t say how impressed I am with Katie Teague’s take on money.

    She’s clearly aware of the global consciousness that’s rising and urging developers of the new economy to step forward and be seen.

    Peace.

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