How does planning for the future result in enhanced outcomes in our coming pasts?
Amidst a fascinating bog of Physical laws, telling us that the present is the past, and standing still equals regressing, we as human beings are faced with the question of how to live the future, in a way that leaves a pleasing trace behind for later generations to examine. But if we are the writers of the future, we may benefit from knowing that proper documentation is key in enabling transparency in what we do, and why we do it. By doing so, not only will we have created better conditions to interpret history. But we may also have authorized forthcoming generations the opportunity to access the truth, naked as it always is, before we unfortunately treat it in ways that can obstruct it from being accessed properly in the future. As a result we will also have opened up our society to learn faster from unsuccessful paths and see what caused the change to have unfavourable outcomes, thus we can improve and move on to a better strategy to accomplish prosperity.
The Modern Storyteller Charles Eisenstein
When the charismatic author Charles Eisenstein visited Sweden in May this year of 2013, he discussed with The International Youth Initiative Program (YIP) about economic adjustments to solve global problems such as discussing the idea of interest rates and using gifts instead of services. These economic innovations are described in his book Sacred Economics (2011), and could, according to the author, mend the roots of the economic system and prevent it from crashing. During this visit, however, he chose to focus on the idea of storytelling, also elaborated in a new book called The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible (Sacred Activism), which is being released in 2013 (, maybe available free as a gift, such as earlier releases such as Ascent of Humanity & Sacred Economics). During his seminar at Stockholm University and workshop at The Hub, he elaborated on this idea of the stories of civilizations. Hundreds of spectators came to the session at the University and he received standing ovations at the end. The event at The Hub was crowded with around 50 individuals who got to do exercises with other participants which got to know a stranger in under 5 minutes. One participant expressed that it had taken them years to reach the same level with others who were now their best friends. Almost everyone were curious with questions but some also showed support of his theories by bringing forth empirical examples relating to the theory of gift economy, trying to tell another story and meanwhile making a positive societal difference.
Charles Eisenstein (Sacred Economy) at the HUB in Amsterdam – Licensed with Creative Commons BY-NC-ND-2.0 Webted at Flickr.
This turned many of the thoughts about this project upside down about its purpose, ambition and methods because it was such a new theory which was presented. A long time has been needed to figure things out, which now will be partially expressed in this text. Much of the contemplation since Charles Eisenstein’s visit has made the project look very connected to what he discusses. This is with a combination of the idea of the gift-economy that he advocates, and the more beautiful world that he argues is possible, if we just choose to write the new story and put the old story in the past.
So what role does the Open Life Challenge, play, in a more Beautiful World?
Nature of Free & Open Solutions
During the first encounter, which took place in the middle of a group discussion in Järna, it first took a while to understand what Charles Eisenstein and students were talking about. However, when it was understood, it did not take long to realise that there are a number of connections to the ideas communicated are built-in to this project. As an example, people can actually enjoy culture without consuming it by spending vasts amount of money for copyright material or pirating it and becoming afraid of prosecution. One answer is what this project has demonstrated by partaking in giving and sharing culture freely on different terms, values and mutual agreements, being free from monetary transactions or changing the way they are made, with a similar situation in law.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike BY-NC-ND by London Permaculture at Flickr
Many things with free and open source software could be related to or is by nature included in the idea of gift economy. Charles Eisenstein demonstrates this himself by using the GNU/Linux distribution of Ubuntu and applications such as LibreOffice, which he said during his workshop at The Hub in Stockholm. This is an example of integrating the idea of the gift economy into daily life as they are somewhat based on the idea to different extents with open source and global team collaborations to develop them. What was extra interesting with the workshop and his lecture the day before at Stockholm University, was that the event fee was based on the notion that the participants could give the amount of money that they felt it was worth, not paying a set price, thus also being an example of the gift economy. Hence all of these things are also demonstrations to an alternative story of us.
Shaping the Story
One can believe to know what story one wants to shape and what role this project plays in these contextual ideas. One can wish to help shape a future in which we later will look back and tell the new story of our species different from what we would say if everything remained the same. A good way to do this could be to develop the project and expand the area that it spans over. By embarking on this journey of consuming things that were given and which easily can have continuous sharing, one automatically opens up to be a part of the new story. There are still struggles with the issue of ignoring material that was used to be consumed freely without the project’s limits. However there are ideas to be implemented on how to tackle that and reduce it, with the simple reason to be more open and honest about what has been consumed and does not belong within the framework of the experiment.
An Open Agenda
One might say that this challenge is getting involving in these new philosophies too hastily and without much questioning. However, through this recent period of silence, this has been one of the most existential thoughts constantly hovering over this challenge. This experiment was launched open up to the idea of Creative Commons and alternative licenses which were undiscovered territory half a year ago. Today it is a part of everyday life. The original definition of what ‘Open’ means to the project, referring to Open Source initially, will now be expanded upon and redefined more thoroughly. Now it has come more to mean something more including – being open to new and innovative ideas not only on a practical level but also philosophically. It also includes to clarify the communication about this project to reduce possible misunderstandings of what agendas this experimental project has and does not have. This will allow the project to continue it’s discovery in theories and see how it fits into these models without taking any specific stance and partiality in the ideas but instead exclaiming what role for example the Open Source philosophy plays in them. It can also become interesting to put the idea of openness in scenarios of the old story, such as Hollywood’s heavy use of open systems to create the visual effects and blockbuster movies compulsively produced every year. The core will most probably be to focus on providing unique insights on issues, scenarios and ideas which they play in the new story.
“Gift Economy” by London Permaculture at Flickr Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 2.0
A Lighthouse for the ones Searching
The idea to tell a different story is a motivating factor to continue further. It is not intended to be the outsider who is disconnected to the old story but instead being a lighthouse inside it, for those who look for another perspective on matters that they are discontent with. This also brings down the issue of what it is like to see what the new story is, which we are writing even while one is still in it. The problem is then having the self-distance and staying true to the ambitions of the project as long as it is put into diverse perspectives thus not being partial. With experience from a life of living in the old story about how things can be if one does not look for alternatives, many things are very confusing until one has had time to contemplate them. This is not the only reality we can choose to live in and the more activity one undertakes with this project to inspire others to pause and think for a while, the more true the other story eventually becomes.
Inspiration as a Gift to Fuel Action
This challenge has come a long way but is continuously still in development and every now and then one needs more energy to continue. The participation in the events of Charles Eisenstein’s visit was very needed to continue and is an example of how inspiration is a gift that can fuel so many actions. There are numerous individuals, groups and ideas out there that will help putting wood into the fire so one can keep telling a new story. It is wonderful how the world and perception of reality can change when one connects not only with new ideas but also puts one into a new context and a sense of belonging. This is why the project has such gratitude towards the insights and inspiration that were given by Charles Eisenstein. His contribution will help keep the fire burning as we sit around the same campfire to tell the new story that the stars will look down upon in the future.
It is time to widen the definitions, philosophies and perspectives of free & open solutions and their gifts to tell the new story we all need to have a better life in a more beautiful world.