Re-valuing our thyme.

Submitted by Mike Chong on March 4, 2012 - 4:52pm

So a week ago today, we were on our way back from Jubilee Partners.  And as my trip-mates who have been long awaiting this post can attest to, I am very much constrained by time.  It's been the theme of the week.  From midterm exams to assignment deadlines, I've been driven hour to hour by the time constraints of my schedule. 


But as seems to be consistent with every the theme in my life, it all leads back to community.  Remembering back to Jubilee, I recall a strong sense of being at ease.  There was a lack of that weight, that burden of being driven by a strict schedule.  And I don't think it was simply because I was on break.  If I were to try to put my finger on the difference, I would describe it as a shift in priority.  In school right now, I am being taught that my priority lies in efficiency.  In producing the best - or at the very least, the most - work physically possible in a given amount of time.  And so I bear the heavy weight of my time constraints.


But at Jubilee, the priority seemed to me to lie in the development of personal, human relationships.  All else followed naturally.  The work we were doing was all done to maintain and support the community, and it was all done around conversation, and done with no sense of requirement or urgency except for the understanding that we all wanted to be a part of this contribution together, a part of something beautiful together.  (Perhaps also what I enjoyed was the fact that I was outside in fresh air and natural light as opposed to stuck to my computer all day…)


And, as these kinds of themes tend to do when I notice them, this change in priority, of community over efficiency, has reared its head in other aspects of my life as well.  Earlier this week, some of us attended a lecture held by an organization in Waterloo looking at alternatives to ‘growth economies’.  The premise was that all major economies in the world right now are based around the concept of stability through growth.  It’s something that arguably every world leader today would take for granted.  And it’s obvious that this pattern is unsustainable given the fact that we live in a limited biosphere.


So the ‘big question’ as I understood it was – how do we restructure our society to live with a ‘steady state’ economy, not one so blindly focused on growth?  And I think the answer comes in this ‘shift in priority’ theme I have been exploring.  Though I by no means would claim to be an economist, I think there is something fundamentally simple, and necessary to revaluing social relationships, and our relationship with the earth ahead of everything else, in particular, material goods.  And it seems so blatantly obvious a concept.  But I really think this calls us to drop everything we have, strengthen our ties into our local communities, recognize the beauty in our relationship with the earth, and then try again to build our lives around our social relationships. 


In any case, I’m out of time for now.