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Feeding the Whole Hunger

In the TED video I have included below, musician Amanda Palmer discusses the economics of commercial music in a unique way. She describes how fans support her music directly, by sending her money rather than buying her cds via a distributor. This process is an aspect of an entirely different relationship with her fans than we are accustomed to, where she encourages, no… actually invites… close contact.

Her approach to her career is different, some would say radically different, than most and perhaps is not a model which could be employed by everyone. However, I believe it could be a harbinger of a different kind of economy in general. A more personal economy, an economy where contact between producer and consumer is based on a relationship of some kind vs. faceless buying and selling.

Our current economic model of mass consumption, while viewed by many as an efficient development in the global economy, has, I believe, come at a cost. To illustrate the contrast, imagine for a moment that you went to visit your Aunt Mary one sunny day in September. Your Aunt Mary is known in your family for her tomatoes, grown with care and love in her tiny back porch. Over her 50 some years of growing tomatoes, she has refined it to an art, with each tomato having been produced with fertilizer she makes herself, just the right amount of light and Bach played to the tomato plants in the early hours each morning.

Knowing all of this, when Aunt Mary gifts you with one of these treasures, you accept it with awareness of the love, time and experience that has gone into its production. How would you treat that tomato when you got it home? Would you toss in on the counter, forget about it and throw it out one day when you notice it is too ripe to eat? Or would you savor it with appreciation for the love that went into its production?

I submit that the faceless nature of our economy is one of the roots of the problems we are encountering in our society. And it’s not just facelessness. More importantly, it’s lack of any sense of connection. And it is this sense of connection that Amanda is trying to reintroduce through her approach to her music and her career. Psychologists tell us that a sense of connection is vital to our mental health. Without connection we are wounded and cannot function at full capacity.

Kahlil Gibran refers to this in a profound way when he writes: “If you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half a man’s hunger.” We need to bake with love, and share with love, and connect with one another in order to feed the whole of our hunger.

So I ask myself today, did I bake with love? Have I fed the whole hunger of my friends, clients and people I encountered?

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