In section three of his book Charles Eisenstein begins by emphasizing the relationship that spirituality and economics must have. They cannot be separate from each other. For me this emphasis puts to rest some of the questions that we had encountered in the previous section of the book. Sacred Economics is more than just a new economic system it is fundamentally rooted in the heart of spirituality. This transition to a new economy involves the whole being because to have a gift economy is to have community and therefore we must learn to adjust how we see the people around us. I can no longer carry on anonymous economic transactions that money would presently allow me to. I cannot be an invisible member of society but must become an active participant in the community through the giving and receiving of gifts. The idea is that there is a spiritual shift to begin to recognize the things that have value and to have those things determine economic decisions. This transition seems overwhelming; however it is made more plausible by the fact that it will not be automatic. It will be a gradual transition as people like myself learn to rediscover what holds true value in life and as others see us living in this gift economy we will slowly aid the larger transition. This seems possible. Eisenstein presents so many new ideas and theories that I easily get overwhelmed and do not know where to start but if I start with me and change how I think and allow that to effect my economic decisions the ideas presented here can work. Eisenstein also acknowledges that the world is not perfect and the gift economy will not be perfect because selfishness can never truly be gone. However in a gift economy it would be obvious to all who was being greedy and selfish.
I appreciate that Eisenstein brings up the tension that there is concerning gifts – that they can create a feeling of obligation. Because of how society works today it is much easier to use money instead of gifts and remain separate from the responsibility of relationship. I feel this feeling too. It is awkward to receive gifts sometimes and it is difficult to know what to give people or what they may need. I want to give but I need to change my mindset into a mentality of gratitude. To see a gift as part of the building blocks of relationship is an essential step for me in moving towards a sacred economic. To participate in the gift giving and receiving changes my focus to the needs of other people instead of my own.
In Chapter 19 Eisenstein speaks to the concept of nonaccumulation. I agree with the mindset of keeping only what we need and therefore feeling freer but I also think that this will take a journey to get to this point. In order for me to resist accumulating things or saving money I would want to know that my needs would be met. Eisenstein says that he would not care if he goes hungry but I would care if I had no food to eat or no way to pay my bills. I understand that the gift economy is living on faith and I would like to live with more faith, however this economy needs to function within a supportive community in order to work.
What I find extremely compelling about Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics is that it calls out to the soul of a person and says that there is more then what we are living right now. The talents and dreams that we have pushed away and the relationships that we have neglected due to lack of time as we try to survive will be allowed to flourish. We will no longer have an excuse to exploit the glorious beauty that is the natural resources of the world. Value will be placed where it belongs and our lives will be much more content.