Our metaphors fail to accurately reflect money and economic realities.

Newtonian physics: the system of physics based principally on the dynamics of Isaac Newton, 1642-1727 (including his famous law of gravitation). The system was very successful in predicting the behaviour of particles, pendulums, machines ,etc., up to the end of the 19th Century when the new physics began to have its impact.

-Dr. Christopher Southgate

Though there is much debate among scientists about the particular forces acting upon organisms in particular situations, and about the pacing, or timing, of changes, there is little or no debate among biologists regarding the idea that natural selection, basically as outlined by Charles Darwin, is working on all organisms at all times.

-Robert B. Hole Jr.

My, how we talk. Trouble is, how we talk reflects our thinking. Our thinking morphs into actions. And our actions pretty much mirror our personal and communal interiors.

Our talking tools include metaphors. Metaphors are fundamental, vital words; compelling, simplifying models. By structuring perceptions, they enable sensible comprehension of surrounding complexities. As a downside, they control and limit our vision. Therein lies an issue for thoughtful money workers. Regrettably, not only are our money words inappropriate for our current understanding of money's function, they are unsuitable for money's continued evolution.

Trouble is, our money words tend to ground in old models, particularly 17th Century physics and 19th Century biology. They have yet to incorporate the integral visions of 20th Century quantum physics or ecology. The result: "machines" vs. "ecosystems." Not wrong, but not necessarily helpful. Often harmful. Mechanistic metaphors induce linear thinking that doesn't accurately reflect 21st Century money. And money is hard enough without dysfunctional underpinnings. Unfortunately, inappropriate metaphors contribute to misunderstandings and questionable actions.

Money's mechanistic misperceptions have rippling ramifications. Sectors separate. Ecological interrelatedness is absent. Machines "break," needing "repair" (metaphorically implying that "repair" of a given machine part is actually possible). With machines, problems are fixed with fungible parts. Plus, machines are subject to forces such as gravity and velocities. Once in motion they tend to stay in motion. Reactions are equal and opposite.

That these do not generally apply to modern money forces has not hindered their persistent use. Consider alternatives, like "gardens." We tend gardens. We don't fix them. Conversely, merely tending imperfect machines will leave them broken. A tended garden is self-correcting, but requires time and patience. Gardens are calm; machines are not.

Same issues, different metaphors, different attitudes. Both models imply technical skill. One requires force and resistance; the other rewards serenity and tenderness. But when we disregard money's underlying chaotic orders and interdependencies, we tend to think "repairs" not "cultivation." Yet, money does not "fix" like an engine. Trillions of independent actions generate "money."

Unfortunately, our money words are old and very tired. They come from times when wealth was might, land, jewels, silver and gold, not "money." They ground amid seminal social transformations of rationalism and the Industrial Age when machines were simultaneously miracles and cultural revolutions. In those days, science partially supplanted religion's belief systems-not just in the minds of most, but the hearts of many. Three hundred years later, Newtonian dogmatists continue to unconsciously insist that machine metaphors rule the world of money as if money was matter. Darwin's self-congratulatory disciples proclaim "blood in tooth and claw" as a morally superior excuse for a market society without regard for money's organic, interconnective virtues.

Now, we live with their metaphoric legacies. Too bad for us.

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