We recently watched a rough cut of an impressive new documentary by Katie Teague (http://moneyandlifemovie.com), which explores society’s relationship with money. As the world grapples with yet another financial crisis, Teague’s film eloquently illuminates the unconscious assumptions and flaws in the current economic system as well as offering a fresh narrative on our relationship with money. It’s a powerful film but its central premise – the system is broken and needs to be replaced – is, we suggest respectfully, also flawed.  We don’t need to replace the current economic model, we need to be conscious of the meaning and direction it offers and choose when it best suits us.  Perhaps more importantly, we also need to understand the other half of the coin, pardon the pun.  In addition to protection against scarcity we need to have a symbol (money) that measures how much of what we love we have in our lives (Teague does an excellent job of giving us an idea of what that would look like).  That’s where balanced leadership comes in.

The dire fiscal straits we’re in – mounting personal debt; banks collapsing; entire countries in default; lack of trust in financial institutions – serve as a test case of one world thinking. In the absence of the balancing values of the love-based world – e.g. meaning, creativity, consensus and emotion – the shadow elements of the fear-based world can run amok. Order, goals, extrinsic rewards and control, competition and other essential elements of the fear-based world have their place, but too much of one world is detrimental.  The fear based qualities lose their inherent value when they are left unchecked.

The same dysfunction occurs if the shadow features of the love-based world take over due to excessive use – lack of discernment, chaos, inertia, envy, susceptibility to danger, and loss of connection with self. We need a balanced system that keeps the shadow side of either world in check.  Too much of either world becomes detrimental.

money and happiness

Teague’s film documents the excesses of our dysfunctional economic system in a compelling way.  She paints a powerful picture of what happens when a system goes off-kilter, in this sad case, millions unemployed, wracked with debt, and losing hope and faith in the economy that once served them well.

The solution to this crisis though is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but to be consciously aware of our relationship with money so the positive aspects of both the love and fear-based world have a place. A balanced, integrated economic model would hold space for people and profit, would value relationships and results, and would recognize that “wealth” is as much about our hearts as it is our heads.