KOSMOS NEWS: Is Sharing for Sale?

Jay Owen SRI/ESG News, Global Citizen

Kosmos                                                           Newsletter


Is Sharing for Sale?

Dear Readers,

Our featured author this week is Elisabet Sahtouris, an eloquent teacher of evolution biology and also a futurist. Like many of us, she senses that global transformation is underway in our hearts and minds, our communities, and slowly in our social institutions. In Ecosophy: Nature’s Guide to a Better World, in the current issue of Kosmos Journal,  she suggests that greed is in decline:

“We know there is something obsolete, something hopelessly immature, about the competing and fighting and grabbing going on at the highest levels of human society. After all, those are the very things we teach our children not to do to each other. /Love and other values lost to consumerism are pouring back into our lives like fresh water. /Caring and sharing are replacing competing and grabbing, in no small measure due to the increasing empowerment of women, who have always held these values.”

But recently there has been alarm expressed in the global transformation movement that our principles of caring and sharing are being increasingly co-opted in service of exploitative business practices and that our grassroots efforts are being obscured by capitalism. Certainly we have seen this relative to “green economy”, as James Quilligan reminds us:

“There are a lot of people out there saying ‘all we need to do is put money into creating green energy and that will create jobs for people and will ultimately clean the environment and ultimately do everything we want – so what is the hang-up? /This is why sustainable development is failing – because it has been translated into market-based terms.” 

In When Sharing Isn’t Caring, Nathan Schneider looks at the infusion of corporate business models into the sharing movement. Looking at examples such as Zipcar and Airbnb, he asks who is benefiting from these models.

“Sharing could lead the way to a more just and sustainable society, one in which we consume less and collaborate more. But it could also be a means for Big Business to creep even more fully into our lives, exploiting our relationships with one another and turning every attempt at generosity into an act of consumption.”

Can values really be co-opted that easily? The principles of sharing and service to humanity are ones we hold personal and dear. We have seen these kinds of concerns arise in the recent past around the wholesaling of mindfulness and meditation practices to corporate America. Not to mention the multitudes of training programs, seminars, courses, and self-help guides all promising to put us in touch with our personal power – at a price.  In an article on New Monasticism, Vania Kent Harber says:

“Inner Peace is the product and people are buying. Trite slogans abound, serving the purpose of making a person feel as though they are on the path to some form of enlightenment, without asking anything of them.”

And yet, would we prefer not to see some of these practices enter the mainstream at all? Are we being commodified to the point of irrelevance? Or is it also possible that these are unavoidable ripples in the process of change? After all, no one owns the concepts of “sharing” or “interbeing” and each of us must decide for ourselves whether we are embracing these values authentically.

Living authentically is a theme of Europe in Transition: Local Communities Leading the Way to a Low Carbon Society, a comprehensive report by the European Association for Information on Local Development (AEIDL). The report examines transition as an intentional community practice.

In the spirit of true sharing, we send you greetings, blessings and gratitude.


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By Elizabeth Sahtouris

The most exciting and beneficial things I believe happened to humanity in the past century were physicists’ recognition that “the universe is more like a great thought than like a great machine”1 and astronauts lifting far enough from Earth to see, feel and show us how very much alive our planet is. Those events led to a wonderful sea change from the older—and rather depressing—scientific story of a non-living material universe accidentally giving rise to all within it, devoid of meaning or purpose.

The new view, revealing a conscious universe and a living Earth in which we are co-creators, takes us out of fatalistic victimhood to becoming consciously active agents of our destiny! It lifts the fog of our self-image as consumers of stuff, giving us awesome rights and responsibilities to live out our full co-creative humanity.

We humans always have been and probably always will be storytellers. Whether we create our stories from the revelations of religions or the researches of science, or the inspirations of great artists and writers or the experiences of our own lives, we live by the stories we believe and tell to ourselves and others.

Story, in the modern world, lost its importance as we assumed that science could tell us the truth, while story never did. But science was long based on the assumption of a reality independent of humans—a material universe that could be studied without interfering in it in any way. When physicists discovered that all the universe was composed of energy waves and that every instance of our human reality was a wave function collapsed from sheer probability by a conscious observer, everything changed.

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Elisabet Sahtouris, PhD

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EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution
Biology Revisioned (w. Willis Harman)
A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us