To Have All, Give All To All
What on earth can this mean? How can we have everything if we give everything away? Is that what the above actually says? Is to give to be without that which was given? In finite limited things, in things subject to scarcity, is appears so. If there is only a limited supply of say food and I give all the food I have to you then, assuming no one gives food to me and I can otherwise procure no more, I do without. But is it these simple everyday things that the above refers to? Why is “Give ALL” emphasized? What is this “ALL”?
It reminds me of “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats forever [and may feed or teach many others to feed themselves].” Giving scarcity is not giving ALL. Giving out of or from or bound by scarcity is not giving ALL. Clearly it is impossible to give that which is scarce to All because if there were enough to give it to All it would not be scarce! It is only that which is abundant or of abundance or leads to ever greater abundance by being shared freely that can be given to All. It is that very quality of increasing in abundance the more that it is given that is the signature of what this aphorism refers to.
What sorts of things have this quality today? We can see one of these things that increase the more that it is given in Free or Open Source Software. The more such software is created and shared widely the more software and creations based on software are made. Knowledge itself is such that the more it is shared the more knowledge and all of its benefits increase for everyone.
Goodwill, or more generally helping one another to become the very best we can be, increases the real wealth and well being of all of us. Here we begin to see the power of this aphorism. We might ask, “What profits it a person to lay up a monetary fortune if she lives in a miserably unhappy world?” Surely our greatest wealth requires the greatest wellbeing and creativity and productivity of the highest and best of everyone and everything in our environment. To the degree that any are stunted from their potential we are all that much poorer than we could be.
There is another thread woven within this aphorism. If we hold scarcity as the supreme fact of our existence then we can never, by definition, have ALL or give ALL. We have paupered ourselves and everyone else in the world from the beginning! This is especially crucial to understand in this time of accelerating technological change and open mind-blowing potential. The sharing of knowledge and its increase has borne rich fruit indeed. We are within perhaps 20 years of being able to produce any physical materials we wish out of raw atoms. We are within 20 years of being able to make food, clothing, housing, new organs, bodies, cars, computers, most anything physical you can think of out of effectively dirt. We cannot not only make it but make it in any needed quantity, on-demand and to the most perfect standards or precision, purity and quality. All it takes is know-how, knowledge, including knowledge of the composition of that to be made. So out of knowledge, which grows every more abundant by sharing, we get the means to make much of our material needs and wants, which we usually think of as somewhat scarce, actually not scarce at all but as abundant as knowledge and subject to similar rules of sharing and increase! To have All give All to All indeed!
The technology alluded to in the above is largely Molecular Nanotechnology, the ability to assemble atom by atom, molecule by molecule, with atomic precision. The same ability can enable humanity to cure all diseases and the results of most injuries perfectly and near instantaneously. This includes, given sufficient knowledge of what is involved, being able to fully halt and reverse the deleterious effects of aging. A generation or two from now human beings can have indefinitely long lives. This may well be the last mortal generation!
This same technology that allow us to perfectly maintain and repair our bodies allow us to reverse and to heal all the environmental harm humanity has ever wrought. It enables us even if our population was quadrupled to have vastly less negative impact on our ecosystems. It enables everyone on this planet to have a standard of living as good or better than the present day “haves”.
To Lose ALL Refuse ALL to All
This is the positive side – a very glorious and glowing positive side it is! But what happens with the same advancing technology when we do not “Give ALL to all”, when we continue to think, live and act from scarcity? What happens when we continue to act implicitly and explicitly as if it is possible to “get mine” regardless of what happens to everyone else and even while believing that there is not enough for everyone to “get theirs”?
The advance of technology means that the world becomes smaller in many ways. Through modern communication capabilities almost everyone in the world is aware or can become aware of how others live to a large degree. In particular the momentary “have nots” become quite aware of what and just how much they “have not” at least in material terms. In the face of this any great insistence of the “haves” that it is right and natural that they have and the “have not” do not in perpetuity is bound to be seen as grossly unfair and unjust. This is even more true in the face of increasing plenty. If the “haves” further believe or act as if they believe that their safety and well-being requires preserving and increasing wealth differentials, especially by imposing onerous and even highly exploitative costs on the relative have nots, then the growing pressure toward open conflict will greatly increase.
Even within the “First World” of relative wealth all is very far from rosy. The middle class, those of some success with great hopes for more for themselves or their children, is being eviscerated. In the US especially debt levels, both private and public, are out of control. Scarcity thinking has taken the form of feeling that one never has or is or has done enough. A culture of near cancerous self-eating has evolved, in part on purpose. People today are beginning to notice that they have less real wealth in many respects than their parents did and in large part less satisfaction and happiness. Both a sullen expectation of having oneself and much of one’s like taken care of and a desperate competitiveness in all things fearful of falling behind are rampant. The culture is on speed, rushing ever faster to augur in more fatally. At the same time we try to export all our “values”, without really bothering to separate wheat from chaff (or offal) to the rest of the world. We even attempt to do it out of the barrel of a gun. All of this is a gross and dangerous denial of abundance, a great refusal of ALL to All. We even refuse simply Enough to ourselves!
As the world gets smaller the power of the individual and of small groups to do great harm increases due to much of the same technology. As the world gets smaller and the consequences of profound dissatisfaction or being on various kinds of a bender get larger it becomes increasing dangerous to tolerate, much less foster, ample reason for unhappiness and profound resentment for mistreatment. As the technology empowers everyone the means required to force control to the liking of various privileged groups become increasingly totalistic. The very technology that could liberate us from all want can be used to forge unbreakable chains of total surveillance and control. Today it is possible to watch everyone in a “First World” country at every moment. So far there are not enough watchers to monitor all that data. But with computational advances the data can increasingly be used to catch as if desired squelch all rebellion or effective dissent. The world after 911 is headed in the direction, fueled by fear, of greater and greater surveillance and control of everyone.
The surveillance of everyone could only be tolerable if the ultimate fullest development of everyone was actually embraced. But that is not the world we live in. Instead many “haves” consider all the positive possibilities above profoundly threatening if available to All. They believe they can refuse ALL to All and instead maintain a totally disproportionate share of a limited amount of wealth. They have refused ALL by refusing it to All and by refusing even the remote possibility of ALL. By so doing they will eventually lose All. Either through destroying all freedom and advance, or through endless ever more deadly wars or economic collapse leading to chaos on by many other quite predictable mishaps. By capping the Great Bounty that human can choose to partake of they may doom us all.
It is not just some “them” out there, all bloated with greed. It is on some scale you and I and pretty much every single human being on this planet. We all have a basic nature, an evolved psychology, that was not designed for a world of open ended abundance. Whether you believe that nature is a product of evolution or of original sin or samskaras from past lives it is imperative that you recognize that within yourself that refuses ALL and certainly refuses ALL for All. It will take more than fabulous technology to bring us to an abundant and more joyful world. It will take a profound shift in consciousness on personal and societal scales.