Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The New Gold Rush

              “Some people are so poor all they have is money.”  - Bob Marley


I can’t be too critical of the California Gold Rush because it was clearly responsible for the creation of San Francisco. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to bike through Golden Gate Park to the ocean today and delight in the view of the fog snaking under the Golden Gate Bridge. But from the point of view of the indigenous people and the land itself, it was, of course, an unqualified disaster. 


But let’s talk about gold. It’s all over the fairy tales, it’s in the King or Queen’s crown, it’s inlaid into exquisite Japanese pottery. It brings the light of the sun to the earth. Gold shines like the sun, but it lives in the dark earth. To get to it, you have to dig deep. 


The problem with Columbus and his successors, all the way to the California Gold Rush and beyond, is that they took the mythological truth of gold as the literal truth and organized their lives around dreams of material wealth. Columbus cut off the hands of indigenous people who didn’t collect enough gold for him, the 49’ers ravaged the land and each other in their quest for striking it rich.


So here we are in a time when material wealth is—or rather, should be— a cause for some level of shame. Just as my pride in attaining my Million Mile Status on United Airlines now is a shameful indictment of my carbon footprint, so should millionaires and especially billionaires feel some shame in plundering so much more than their share of the earth’s resources while others go hungry, are homeless or struggle for survival. 


Our time is calling for the shift from the literal to the mythological/ spiritual, to stop obsessing about the outer gold and begin digging deeper for the inner gold. The New Gold Rush is afoot. Rush may be a misnomer, as the work of the Soul is slow and meticulous, but in terms of how quickly we need to shift our thinking, “rush” is perhaps too slow.


“There’s gold in them there hills!” they used to say, but turns out the hills are the ups and downs of our own soul’s life and if we spend our days paying attention while we walk them, we will become millionaires of the spirit, the kind Bob Marley refers to. Worth repeating his line as our new mantra:


              “Some people are so poor all they have is money.”  - Bob Marley


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