Monday, November 3, 2008


(Week 13 - Monday, Nov. 3)

Tomorrow is "election day". Ostensibly, this is the long-anticipated pivotal day of decision on which we set a bold new direction for the future of ourselves and our children. After observing the pattern set in previous election cycles, it might be fairly asked if it is not instead an empty civic ritual whereby, amidst much expensive political hoopla, we participate in the ratification of the same old system, with no realistic chance of making a choice for the positive? In the persons presented on the ballot (as per John McCain and Barack Obama, for example; not meaning to overlook the fact that there are others also), is there presented a bona fide choice between two divergent roads forward, or is it essentially a non-choice, between "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum". Is the only real alternative to "waste" one's vote on a protest third-party candidate?

Taking the question a bit deeper, is it a constructive act to cast one's vote at all? This, to be sure, may appear to be out of synch with the civic tenor of this special day, but in my travels the question is presented to me frequently by serious-minded souls who are seeking an affirmative way to act, but are torn between hoping that they can make a difference, and feeling that their precious time and energy are being co-opted to add political bunting to the same old corrupted civic structure.

For my part I am encouraged that the level of interest and participation among the electorate, even after what seems like an interminable four-year grind since the last Presidential election. In a peculiar sort or way the vast quantities of cash that have been pouring into campaign coffers is an indication that there is a vast reservoir of hope that is being drawn upon, even to the extent that people are electing to vote with their financial substance through a difficult time. For all that, however, the issue of monetary transformation, is nowhere represented on the ballot, except in the guise of the tired old rhetoric of getting-spending-under-control-and-balancing-the-budget-so-our-children-won't-have-to-pay-our-"debt". What could be more discouraging?

This begs the question, is there a reason for hope? I believe that there is.

Permit me to offer an analogy. In the field of chemistry there is a phenomenon known as a "super-saturated solution." By way of explanation, if one were to take a liter of water and then begin to add small quantities of a salt, the salt would dissolve into the water forming a solution; until, that is, the water held in solution all the salt that it could hold. At that point the solution would be "saturated", and any additional salt added would fall undissolved to the bottom of the container.

Now suppose that one started with a solution that was already saturated (with no extra salt at the bottom), and began to let water evaporate out of the container. As the water evaporated the salt would be left behind, but the measure of salt that was supposedly dissolved by that amount of water would stay dissolved, and not precipitate to the bottom. The solution in the container would have entered a state of being a "super-saturated solution"; that is, it would be holding in suspension more salt than it could supposedly hold. The reason that it would stay in suspension is that there is nothing identifiable in the solution that represented truly the pattern the excess salt would precipitate into if it had the chance. If one were to introduce into the solution a seed crystal, however tiny (it need only be at least one molecular replication of the true pattern), then the excess salt in the solution would precipitate out (this is in fact how crystals are grown).

The state of the macro-political climate at present is analogous. The energy in the hopes, fears, debates, activism, anxieties, seeking and prayers of the people around the world about the present state of affairs constitutes a mighty socio/economic/political super-saturated immersion. There is a great deal of angst-ridden argument out there about having to find a new and better way. Many issues are raised, some which venture tantalizingly close to the core truth, but we remain yet at a collective loss as to what precisely the problem is, and what exactly can be done about it. If, however, the seed crystal of a true alternative can be sown into the public consciousness, what would precipitate out would be breathtaking. That is what this column, hopefully, is all about. If in fact it can be constituted so as to form a seed crystal of what is yet unmanifest, but striving to be born. This is no mere metaphor, but a principle of real power and change.

Seen in this light, the tremendous energies that have been poured into this election cycle, without, in the view of many, evident fruit need not be lost. They do indeed come from a deep font of human hope in the future that can be precipitated out into a bright new vision for the future. The seed crystal that is yet lacking, I would suggest, is a true dialogue about the nature, realities and practice of money.

Richard Kotlarz

The complete set of columns from this series is posted at the following websites.