sharing2.jpgIn this excerpt from her essay titled Caring is Sharing, Sherri Hayter proposes a new understanding of how market economies can promote lives of meaning and joy through mutual caring and sharing.

I love this time in history and the full on burgeoning of a new economic sector known as the sharing economy. We are leaving the phase of needing to own everything for ourselves. We are beginning to recognize that everything is only available in finite amounts from natural resources to money to time. There is a give and take flow to life and we are finally catching on, if only in small ways.

In cities like Toronto Canada, you can have access to cars, bicycles and tools and never own them. For a membership fee, all these things can be utilized on a per needs basis. This rental system is catching on, even in the RV community. Think about the parks you’ve visited where perhaps you’ve had access to woodworking facilities or a workshop? I wonder if there are ways this sharing economy can catch on even more in the RV community?

We are taught in kindergarten that sharing is caring and yet, once we graduate to grade one we’ve deeply engrained the concept of “mine”. This is mine, that’s mine, implicitly stating that what’s mine is by definition not yours. Not true of the sharing economy – what’s mine is yours in the truest sense. We all share this planet earth, doesn’t it just make sense that sharing is an inherent part of being human?

This may cause concern for many retailers, for if they are unable to sell 200 units of said product, they essentially go out of business. Of course this is going to take time and entrepreneurs will have to keep doing what they’ve always done – be innovative, find new ways to approach this market and re-calibrate. There are huge opportunities in the sharing economy for the ones that put their ear to the ground now and listen to the conversation. If we get this sharing thing right, imagine the implications for our planet. How might this new economy shape the way we look at one another, the earth, our resources?

I’m thankful that we are learning “stuff” is burdensome. We once believed (or have been conditioned to believe) that purchasing and mass consumption make us happy, somehow fulfilling our lives, but we are coming to know the falseness of this notion and seeking truth through sharing. How great does it feel to share with others anyways? It lets us know that we are not in this life alone. Collecting and coveting “stuff” is an isolating activity, it creates division between “us” and “them” and its not real, its merely a social construct we’ve created to feel better about ourselves. We are slowly waking up to the fact that it has never made us feel better, and in fact, has insulated our lives from the big picture.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I so look forward to seeing what the sharing economy has in store for us – our kindergarten teacher had it right all along!

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