2012-12-03

Fabricating Scarcity

What would it look like to live the truth of abundance instead of the myth of scarcity? Here’s a parable from an unknown author that shows what it might look like:
An American businessman was at the pier of a small, coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American then asked, “Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA, and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take.”

“15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich.
You would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

Triumphantly, the American replied, “Then you would retire! You’d move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your grand-kids, take siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
The United States certainly does not have a monopoly on scarcity thinking. According to “Bread for the World,” 925 million people in the world are hungry: more than the combined populations of the US, Canada, and all of Europe. Over 27,000 people each day die of hunger or malnourishment-related disease -- most of them children under five. Yet we have enough food.
“In 2008, globally, we grew . . . 4,000 calories per day per person—roughly twice what people need to eat.” (foodfirst.org/en/node/2761, posted 2010 Jan 21)
In fact, 78% of all malnourished children under five in the developing world live in countries with food surpluses: that’s the finding of a study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As Parker Palmer said,
“We create scarcity by fearfully accepting it as law, and by competing with others for resources as if we were stranded on the Sahara at the last oasis.”
That’s what’s happening in the starving parts of the world.

Starvation – spiritual starvation and physical starvation – results from the fearful acceptance of scarcity as law. For
“the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around.”
As the Parker Palmer also told us,
“Abundance is a communal act...Community not only creates abundance – community is abundance.”
Walter Brueggemann explains:
“Jesus talks a great deal about the kingdom of God -- and what he means by that is a public life reorganized toward neighborliness.”
If we learn that what we have is enough, it helps others have enough.

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This is part 4 of 5 of "Myths of Scarcity"
Next: Part 5: "The Abundance of Neighborliness"
Previous: Part 3: "What 'Spiritual' Means"
Beginning: Part 1: "Miracles"