Preparation for a recent meeting about a project I’m affiliated with, The Rural Cultural Wealth Lab, got me thinking about the word sharing, or share, or shared. The phrase that jumped out at me had to do with shared values and customs leading to sustainable culture. How do we share values and customs? What does it mean to share one’s time? If I give a gift, am I sharing?
‘Tis the season for gift giving; some might call that sharing. However, when I give a gift, even if I give it freely, I am not sharing because I no longer have whatever it was I gave away. But, when I share the custom of lighting Hannukah candles with my daughter, we experience something together; the cultural custom is shared and thus sustained. When I give an unrestricted financial gift to a nonprofit organization, I am supporting the organization’s operations, its mission delivery. But, when I volunteer along with other board members to staff an event for the organization, that feels more like sharing because I am not just giving my time (as I might do as a pro bono consultant), but sharing the experience of volunteering with other board members and staff; we are taking collective action.
The Comprehensive Rural Wealth Framework, which is foundational to the work of the lab project mentioned earlier, is based on an acknowledgement of the multiple capitals from which wealth is comprehensively derived: physical, financial, human, intellectual, political, natural, social, and – of course – cultural. These capitals can be held, spent or shared. It occurs to me that only by sharing can comprehensive wealth increase. If you hold it, it stagnates; if you spend it it’s gone; but if you share it, then everyone benefits. What might the implications be for the arts and culture sector if we all did more sharing?
‘Tis also the season of debates over tax reform. I view paying taxes as a kind of sharing. Taxes are not a gift to the government, it is me sharing 28% of what I earn so that 100% of people can have roads, and bridges, and schools. Perhaps if we could reconceive taxation as a form of sharing, there wouldn’t be such bitter fights over who gets which piece of the pie.