With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, mankind forever changed its operating procedures. Especially in Western Civilization, with this new trend of economic development, the work that people did to participate in their communities, largely through cottage industries where families would work together to develop their livelihood, was changed to meet the needs of the supposed ¨greater good¨ of industrial growth.

In the nineteenth century,¨ according to Edgar Cahn, ¨people were wrenched out of traditional social roles to become employees in mass production. After World War II, their role was increasingly to consume the things produced, and consumption became a substitute for the many social ties that remained.”

Before we relegated ourselves to the demands of industry, humans operated largely out of their homes, developing stronger familial ties, and a greater sense of community through collaborative cooperation. As corporate industries formulated ways to produce goods faster, and seemingly more inexpensively, cottage industries were unable to compete and were forced to take jobs in factories in order to meet the growing needs of an economy that moved further away from the household and into the realm of hierarchical economic growth.

Because this revolution of industry was based on the use of machinery, it became quickly reliant on a steady source of fuel to run the machines. The more the machines ran, the greater the need for fuel. Unfortunately, this fuel was comprised of our time and energy, slowly turning mankind from citizens to consumers.

Fortunately, now that we have gone through the Information Revolution, we are given the ability to move beyond our roles as simply consumers that feed the machine, and return to our proper roles as citizens. Instead of simply creating industry for industry´s sake, we can now choose to once again create community and cultivate lifestyles that provide true wealth for all instead of simply material wealth for some.

As Laurence G. Boldt states in Zen and the Art of Making a Living, ¨Today we stand at a crossroads in human history. We have the opportunity to create a new image of ourselves at work, one which will surely trigger a revolution as profound, as shocking, as transforming as the Industrial Revolution. Even as the Industrial Revolution could not occur until there was a massive shift in society´s view of work and wealth, so must an equally profound change in thinking regarding work and wealth occur before the next quantum leap in man´s social evolution can flourish. We can no more conceptualize the impact of such a change than a pre-industrial miller in the hills of England or New Hampshire could have conceptualized the impact of the Industrial Revolution he was helping to foster. We are charting new ground. We must.¨

Time-banking is a pivotal tool for helping us turn the tide to become more than fuel for an antiquated economic system, but participants in a new, collaborative way of creating the world in which we can all live abundantly.


Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.