Filmmaker Katie Teague on the Emerging Economy
by Linda Sechrist
Katie Teague’s inspiring documentary, Money and Life, provocatively asks: Rather than disastrous, can we view economic crises as brimming with opportunities to shift our thoughts about money and thereby improve models of economic exchange?
Why did you produce a documentary on the subject of money?
As an in-depth psychotherapist familiar with observing humanity, I felt that I could use the simple lens of storytelling to chronicle the complexity of money and economics. Because I had no experience in economics or filmmaking, I was often brought to my knees in the crucible of all I was learning, a virtual crash Ph.D. course.
In interviewing David Korten, economist, author and former professor of the Harvard Business School, he soothed my worries by pointing out that because I hadn’t been indoctrinated into the world of economics and its jargon, my language of metaphors and analogies would help laypeople better recognize and understand convoluted economic concepts.
As a therapist, I repeatedly see how disconnections due to eroding relationships with ourselves, our natural world and each other are wreaking havoc on people and the planet. I routinely see that money isn’t a root cause of a person’s issues, just the container for them. Most frequently the issues I hear about result from setting dreams aside “for later” and squelching the sparks of individual genius, usually because of a perceived scarcity of money. I became curious about what role our relationship to money plays in such disconnections.
What are the effects of awaking to what money is and isn’t in our lives?
In considering this from the perspective of healing and tending the soul, asking, “Where are we most wounded in our modern world?” I had my own quantum awakening to the fact that I’m not separate from the subject matter I’m exploring: What is my own story with money? Have I given up healthy self-government to the money god? What are my opportunities to reclaim my own power?
I discovered that the core principle of the economy, money and currency is relationship itself and that we’ve unwittingly disempowered ourselves by entrusting too much power to middlemen like central banks and financial consultants, but are now realizing that we don’t need them.
One clear example is that more individuals are having a direct experience of the divine. Also, entire communities are investing their time, energy and money in their local economies, where they have established relationships and can see the results. I believe that the technologies supporting our emerging new economy reflect our own consciousness coming online.
Were you surprised at what you learned?
I did not know that the U.S. and global economies are based on debt and scarcity nor understand beforehand that our perception of scarcity and separation from one another is only an illusion.
While the majority of economists say that money is an exchange, Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money, states that is what money does, but not what it is. Fundamentally, money is a human agreement, a form of currency via an artifact designed, engineered and built by humans. This is something we have forgotten and it’s hurting us.
How did you approach the universally sensitive subject of money?
The film is purely a starting place and a tool that individuals can use to educate themselves and spark conversations. I kept the tone of film as non-polarizing as possible so that conservative family members could cull compelling concepts that inspire further exploration, rather than walk away feeling a need to defend former beliefs. Awareness and knowledge breeds empowerment and innovative perspectives so that we all can better participate in whatever is emerging.
Will a new economy replace or parallel the existing one?
A new economy is emerging and operating in parallel. Beyond being based on gifting, alternative money, barter or other buzzwords, it’s coming online from a previously unknown place. This is one of the reasons I term the film emergent-oriented, rather than solution-oriented.
A quote by Richard Buckminster Fuller, systems theorist, architect and inventor, eloquently applies: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
The fact is that the old economy, based on debt and scarcity, is designed to collapse. The more innovative we can be in participating in the emerging economy, the more conscious awareness we can bring to bear, improving the chances for increasingly positive impacts.
Linda Sechrist is a Natural Awakenings senior staff writer. Visit ItsAllAboutWe.com for recorded interviews.