Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Something for nothing culture

On Sunday afternoon, we held a swap shop in Sanford's communal area. The idea was simple: trade in your old stuff for new old stuff. People brought along clothes, books, music, dvds and all manner of assorted ephemera. The only rule? No cash must change hands.

It was interesting that people accepted swaps that were definitely not in their favour - not only graciously, but gladly. Insistantly, even. Complete madness, total lack of self-interest. And yet they walked away with a smile on their face. Their stuff had taken on a new value: how much happiness is this old tracksuit top worth? Because with my tracky top, I also got a little kindness - and charity never taketh away so much as it giveth.

The exchange was a human one, between two humans - not one human versus a giant faceless mega corporation. The market didn't set any prices: we decided our own worth. And the banks didn't mitigate any transactions; no invisible electronic debt passed hands, nobody typed in their pin. The Queen didn't show her face all day.

Money connects strangers as strangers; a swap connects strangers as friends.

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