During the previous blog post we explored the potential of humans to create an earthly paradise, we also explored some questions that I want to explore during these blog posts and we could see that we don’t have to walk the path towards an earthly paradise alone.
During this blog post I want to start exploring with you an alternative economic system: ‘The Giving Economy’. We will do this in three parts in order to present the literature in a somewhat easier way.
The ABC of the gift economy
When we take a closer look at the giving economy we can see that the giving economy exists between givers and receivers, and that between these people gifts circulate. As you might expect, the giving economy is mainly about giving, although receiving is also an essential part of the giving economy.
If we receive in a gruff manner, it is not at all pleasant for the other person to give, which reduces giving. As giving declines, less is received and fewer needs are met, so the giving economy is not functioning at its full potential. So the way we receive a gift is an essential part of the giving economy. Gracious receiving stimulates generous giving so that the giving economy unfolds to its full potential.
At least as important as receiving is of course giving. The way we give has a great influence on how a gift is received. Generous giving stimulates gracious receiving, so that people like to give and their needs within the giving economy are more easily met. Thus, by giving generously, we contribute to the success of the giving economy and it can more easily unfold to its full potential. How the giving economy unfolds is truly a shared responsibility between givers and receivers.
What we could give
What we can give to each other can be very broad. From services like cooking, to resources like fuel, to foods like sugar, to objects like a vase and appliances like a laptop. All can be given and thus be part of the giving economy. So the giving economy can be a useful system for meeting our needs, and keeping the world running.
The exchange economy & the gift economy, what is the difference?
At first glance, the gift economy shows many similarities to the exchange economy. In both economies some form of barter seems to be present. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two economies. The difference lies in that the barter economy still takes place in a space of transactions and business. In other words, it is still a fundamentally formal and businesslike event, which in itself is nothing wrong with it. The gift economy, on the other hand, takes place in a space of friendship, because giving and receiving are fundamentally done in a space of generosity and gratitude.
The barter economy
Since the barter economy is fundamentally a business event, the barter economy is characterized by businesses. For example, a barter economy is characterized by the careful categorization and inventorying of products. For example, one starts to categorize sugar equally as salt, so in the barter economy one makes a table with a certain number of categories in which one then subdivides all resources, services and objects as a product.
On the basis of this subdivision, one then finally comes to an agreement to exchange one object for, say, a certain service that someone has to offer. These categories are only a guide in many exchange economies, the people participating in an exchange economy can still come to an agreement themselves and do not necessarily have to abide by these categories.
How the give economy could work practically
As we can see, in the barter economy one acts according to a table in which all kinds of products are divided into categories, thus determining what one exchanges and how one exchanges. In the gift economy such a table is not important at all since there is no exchange, but there is giving and one determines what one gives back now or later by means of gratitude. Suppose I get a kilo of sugar, then I give something back now or later that corresponds with my gratitude for getting that kilo of sugar. Then finally, by also using a healthy dose of reason in gifting and also entering into communication with each other about what our needs are, we can give an appropriate gift based on this information and our own gratitude.
That which circulates within the gift economy-whether an object, resource, service, or device-is never seen as a product but as a unique gift. In other words, that which circulates and is present in existence is not reduced to a particular product that can be used for various purposes, rather it is seen as an unimaginably valuable thing that should be treated with all possible dignity and love.
The emergence of community
We can see that in the giving economy, a dynamic is created where I give you something and you give me something back now or later, this causes close relationships to emerge with intimate connection. Thus, the giving economy creates community among people in which friendships are easily formed and values such as generosity and goodness prevail over other values that prevail in our current economy.
A form of activism
Because these finer values come to take precedence over values of a more destructive nature, applying the giving economy is also a form of activism. The beauty of it is that the giving economy is a form of constructive and harmonious activism, there is no fighting and suffering at all, rather one contributes to the welfare of society in a direct and effective way.
More for you is more for me
In the giving economy, we make an agreement with each other that sooner or later we will give something back to each other that reflects our gratitude and also meets our needs. This ensures that the balance between giving and receiving always remains in balance, and also ensures that the more we give the more we get. So more for you is more for me. In the giving economy, by being generous to someone else we are actually fulfilling our own needs. Giving to someone else is therefore also a gift to ourselves, because sooner or later our needs will be met by the recipient of our gift in an equivalent way.
A Form of Positive Self Transformation
When we give someone something out of gratitude, it is done with openness and generosity. By participating in the giving economy, these beauties are nurtured; by participating in the giving economy, these beauties grow ever more present in ourselves. So participating in the giving economy is also a form of positive self-transformation, we are transforming not only the world but also ourselves.
That concludes Part I. In Part II, we will explore how to apply the gift economy to our individual lives, and how to apply it in small- to large-scale communities up to the level of our society.
Thanks you for reading this blog,
I wish you all the best,
About the Author:
Sven is a 23-year-old Mindfulness and Meditation Coach who is also active as a facilitator of Psych-K. Sven also writes regularly on various topics, and is also chief strategist and digital content creator for Connected Souls.