By Steven Bonsey
In my neighborhood when someone returns from traveling in other parts of the country, we ask, how is it there? It’s understood that we are asking about the conditions of the pandemic there.
Are there many sick? Do many wear masks? Are they vaccinated?
In a globalized world, our long-term health of here depends to some degree upon the behavior of people elsewhere, wherever they may be. An infection anywhere can eventually put people everywhere at risk.
From the point of view of our common health, we all have an interest in one another’s behavior, especially around decisions of risk, the pandemic has made this extremely clear. We all make calculations of risk in our health choices; and the choices that I make will affect my neighbor’s level of risk.
Back in the days not so long ago before a vaccine had been found, when my neighborhood underwent widespread lockdown, I was acutely aware of how vulnerable I felt for myself and for those I loved. I felt how dependent we were on the good will of the strangers who kept grocery shelves stocked or cooked food or made deliveries to our door, but especially on those who show up daily to work as EMT’s and healthcare workers. I could feel panicky at times when I felt how dependent on others we were for our basic safety, and I could also swell with gratitude when I received a timely delivery of groceries and toilet paper at my door from someone in a van.
I remember wondering at the time whether this gut-level awareness of our human interdependence could lead in time to some lasting shift in consciousness for myself or others. In normal life, would I go back to thinking and acting of as an isolated individual? Or would I think of myself more as a person-in-connection and live differently as a result?
One way that I and many others have stayed connected socially in a time of physical isolation has been to turn to the internet. I remember that Rose and I wondered aloud WHETHER our work in Wisdom & Money, whether spiritual practice would “work” in a virtual setting. Would we experience that subtle sense of gathered presence on Zoom?
It soon became clear that, while not every form of practice came off well online, a great deal was possible. In fact, as we began to offer online retreats AND gatherings, we found that more people were able to join us. For better or worse, soon many of us were spending many hours a day in intimate spiritual conversations on Zoom while gazing on one another’s faces. Would this experience have some enduring effect on our shared awareness of being-in-connection? And what difference would that make in our money decisions?
The idea of this kind of shift in my personal or our collective awareness toward an abiding and active sense of our connectedness and interdependence brings to mind what some visionaries describe, not only as a needed shift in human consciousness but as the destined next stage of human evolution. In that next stage, as Teilhard describes it, we human beings will know ourselves collectively as a single organism. At this omega point of our development, we become collectively members of one Body with a Single mind, the mind of Christ.
As I imagine this, as we are all members of one organism, each with our part to play, we would each have immediate access to what we all know in the one Mind. Instead of piecing TOGETHER information to come to an understanding, we would come to know things as a whole and all at once, as sometimes happens now in moments of inspiration. And we would be less dependent on passing information FROM person to person, as we would each know instantly what any of us knows. I sometimes think that I witness this with musical groups or sports teams — they seem to have an internal sense of one another’s movements. I remember watching my son as a boy passing a soccer ball to someone he couldn’t have seen; he just knew the teammate was there.
In some ways this may sound like science fiction. In other ways it seems to me to be simply a description of what will be required of us as human beings if we are to meet the global challenges that we face together in these times. Einstein famously said that we can’t solve problems using the same consciousness that created them. Our issues can’t be addressed if we continue thinking and acting as isolated individuals. We need to be thinking from the whole to the part and acting accordingly.
An effective and humane response to the global pandemic depends on thinking from the whole to the part; my family’s health depends on the global family’s health. An effective and humane response to the global climate change will require that I care for my particular place on the planet by mindfully seeking the good of the whole earth.
When I want to bring this consciousness of connection into my money decisions, I remind myself that, in Rev. Philbert Kalisa’s words, “all the money belongs to God.” The movement of money then ceases to be a transaction between isolated parts; it resembles something more like blood circulating the elixir of life throughout the whole human community. All wealth is meant to be commonwealth, circulating as a transmission of life-energy from one part of the Body of God to another.
I am not an isolated individual in my money life. My personal financial security depends on the commonwealth just as my personal health depends on the common health. My best strategy for future financial security is to ensure the basic security of my neighbors. And my neighbors live all over the globe.
All of my money and my health belongs to God for the good of all God’s people. I begin with myself and the people I love, but embrace the common good. With this in mind, my question is how can I faithfully participate in God’s provision for the common good? One way I have answered that is right here at Wisdom & Money: I open my personal financial decisions to the discernment of a collective mind within a circle of trust.
How have you set up your life so as to faithfully participate in the common health and commonwealth of our world?