Myths about money are killing us

Myths – the old ones – are wonderful sources of inspiration. But some modern myths bind us to a repetitive wheel, so that we consistently fall short of our own ambitions – do you recognize this? It seems to be particularly true of work for sustainability.

So I wonder: what are these myths, and how can we break free of them?

One pervasive myth seems to be: “We’ll get around to saving the environment when we’ve saved enough money.” This is equivalent to saying: “I know I’m sawing off the branch I’m sitting on, but I can’t stop just yet.” Clearly mad, yet it persists… not least because there is a grain of reality in it. It’s not very sustainable to go bankrupt. The conclusion must be that there is something wrong with the money system, if it forces us to choose between

  • going bankrupt now
  • killing human civilization later


Is there an underlying myth? Yes! It’s: “Money obeys economic laws (and there’s nothing we can do about it)”. This is nonsense. Money is a human invention, and it obeys the rules and regulations that we humans have agreed upon. The rules currently in force are driving us farther from sustainability. If we’re serious about sustainable development, we need to reinvent money.

The good news is that many people and communities have already started. In Brazil, for instance, 63 communities have successfully introduced local currencies that flourish alongside the national currency.

More encouragement comes from the “Occupy…” movement. Will the movement bring about the inventive transformation that will enable real sustainable development? Depends on how its organization evolves… but that’s another story.