Our Correspondent, Brian Landever on TIME BANKING . We are honored that its inventor, Edgar Cahn serves on Ethical Markets AdvisoryBoard and he is featured in our TV show seen on PBS stations ,” THE UNPAID LOVE ECONOMY’, and any time at www.EthicalMarkets.tv
Time Banking is about peace building. It engages everyone involved by making people feel useful. All exchanges are appreciated, and the more that occur, the more people feel they have an important place in their community. When an entire community begins to feel this way, solidarity is fostered, and cooperation becomes common. And this is only the beginning. What seeds are being planted by providing an experience of growing mutual support? Could this spark a deep seeded desire for societal harmony?
At the personal level, time banking saves people money and builds self esteem. Many of the services received would have otherwise been paid for. If they’re not, they’re most likely enriching the life of the recipients through cultural lessons, healing sessions, or social company. Either way, the recipients enrich their lives, and those offering the services do too. With no money exchanged, people know that the reason they offer a service is to give a favor. This dissolves the tendency to feel a sense of obligation, replacing it with the feeling of generosity. As we all know, generous activity is somehow similar to having the warm sunshine on our face on a cool autumn day.
At the community level, time banking promotes cooperation, trust, and mutual support. Increasing exchanges in a time bank network amplify the appreciation that is expressed. Members in turn feel motivated, develop the understanding that their skills are valued, and take confidence that they are an integral part of the whole. This constructs a community wide sense of social belonging which perpetuates the excitement to offer more. As people become accustomed to giving and receiving, there develops trust that neighbors will support neighbors in times of need. Alienation and separation dissolve, and familiarity and solidarity grow.
The societal impact is what could occur over time. Time banking provides an example of an economic system that causes a simultaneous expansion in trust, cooperation, and economic exchange. It does not attempt to replace the market economy, and it would most likely not be able to due to its intentionally simplistic valuation theory and applicability only to family, friends, and neighbors. It humbly attempts to bring people together in the process of meeting one another’s needs. As it does so, it gently constructs a paradigm in the back of people’s minds that is based on cooperation rather than individualism, generosity rather than greed, and familiarity rather than isolation. When time banking becomes sufficiently popular that its existence is common knowledge, we will be approaching the times when democratic economic systems that prioritize community empowerment can flourish.
Time banking can have massive impacts, and it will happen in the gentlest way. There is no attacking capitalism or the current power structure, but there is an underlying desire for a safer, happier, kinder world. When people are interested in tying together social development and economics, they will be ready to join a time bank. The result will be a glimpse of our inherent interconnectedness, and the inescapability of caring for people and planet. We will begin to embody the understanding that one can truly be well only when all life shares our wellness.