Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Miki Kashtan: Restoring Flow and Natural Abundance, Continued

In this final part of her blog series, Miki Kashtan continues to explore how we can share resources in ways that encourage connection and are based on empathy.  She describes her experience of the challenges and the joys of working in this way. 

One opportunity for deep transformation emerged from all of us aiming to use money to serve only needs that are truly about sustainability, and not as a substitute for needs that are somehow related to recognition and indirectly to “deserve.” This helps us restore the direct connection between need and resources, instead of mediating it through conceptual structures that reinforce separation and justify scarcity. It was instructive for all to see how many times people slipped into the old ways, and the degree of transformation for them and the group when I invited everyone again into full awareness.

In our team two people had asked for nothing because they are OK financially. Someone pushed just under $1,000 toward one of them, knowing she has an upcoming transition that was stressful for her. And, bit by bit, she pushed it all toward others. She had been profoundly affected by the entire process, from the moment we began, within the team, to examine how much each of us would ask for initially. By the time of the money pile, she had gotten into the trust that, if and when she needs it, somehow it will come to her. Since she didn’t need it then, she wanted it to go to those who did.

At a certain point, money started flowing with the larger group, too. First, money exited our group and was being pushed toward participants, in support of their needs. Then, person after person joined the circle and pushed money, from the pile in the center or from what was already in front of someone, toward someone who needed it, sometimes first adding more money to the pile from their own pockets. Some of it happened directly, and some indirectly. For example, one team member took some of the money in front of him and asked anyone who knew someone else who needed money to take that money and give it to that person. In another moment, I asked people who came from Guatemala, working in difficult circumstances implementing restorative justice, if they needed money for their work.

They looked at each other and said no, and I trusted them. This moment stands out to me, because it offered them the knowledge that their needs mattered and yet that money was then available to give to another community. It seemed as if there would be no end to more money being generated. Even though the overall amounts beyond the initial request were relatively small, the experience of the amount of money growing and growing through generosity and solidarity was nurturing and healing an old collective wound of mistrust.

An entire other theme was working out the challenge that so many women have about asking for money. One woman on the team who’d been really challenged about asking for an amount of money to support her sustainability took some money from the pile, put it on the extra chair, and invited any woman for whom it’s hard to ask for money to come and pull it toward herself, so she would have companionship in this stretching. More and more women then came forward and stretched themselves to do this, and others stretched to give beyond their comfort zone.

Through all of this, we left behind notions of scarcity or transaction, and we fully entered the flow of life. A third of the people were in tears by the end. Several people told me that seeing this process put everything they had learned over eight days into more clarity. Given how long it was, and how far it stretched, I was vividly reminded of the Hanukah oil lasting eight days or the story of Jesus feeding multitudes of people with one loaf of bread. Maybe a better metaphor would be that the money became like a culture that keeps making more and more dough possible. True abundance.

I wonder if something as profoundly based in solidarity and community could have happened in any of the global North countries in which I also teach. Solidarity and generosity are born by knowing that we need each other. When we live isolated, fully transactional lives that give us the illusion that we don’t “need” each other because we have money, we lose out on the possibility of knowing that our lives depend on each other, that we are never separate from others, and that, when in need, if we are part of a community, mutual generosity can be, once again, a way of life. 

Go here for Parts 1, 2 and 3 and all of the other blogs from The Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2018. 
Please leave your comments below, and please share this with your networks.  Thanks. 

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