Time, Love and Economics


Community (Photo credit: Jeff Kubina)

One member of my immediate family is terminally ill. It is almost cliche’ to say that such times focus us upon the value of our relationships above all else. But it is at such times that our values become sharpened to a point at which the quality of our time together is vastly more important than all the stuff with which we are normally preoccupied. Our lives are stripped to the bare essentials of providing love and comfort and the little community called family is concerned only with helping each other through the trial that is the end of physical life for someone we love deeply.

If we carry that awareness of the limited time in which we have a chance to extend love to others into every aspect of our lives including the economic, then the exchanges that occur in the marketplace become less oriented towards making a buck. Instead, we give value to the quality of the lives of people in our communities, online and otherwise, because our values are properly tuned. True that for some making money is an ultimate value but we have seen where that leads over the past decade. Within the rapidly growing online communities of peer-to-peer product and service systems there is a new, and I would say superior, motive emerging for economic activity alongside the profit motive. That motive is the sheer pleasure of establishing new relationships and mutually improving the quality of our lives.

One of the great losses of the latter half of the twentieth century with its sprawling suburbs and mobile lifestyle was the loss of connectedness to community. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, written back in 1985, sought to analyze the disjunction between our radical individualism and our need for community. There has always existed a tension in the American soul between these two realities. The emergence of social media and user friendly peer-to-peer platforms allows us to reconnect with community and mutually enhance the quality of our lives while maintaining our individualism as a brand within the context of a community.

Now we can focus on what is truly important. We can use our online tools to share with each other, give to each other, establish friendships, make mutually beneficial exchanges, enrich each other’s lives while in the process providing a living for ourselves that doesn’t focus on things but on people.

We have so little time to love each other. Why waste that time on anything else?

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