This morning I departed from San Francisco heading to Vancouver, BC for our third Sacred Commerce tour in Canada. If I can help it, I always reserve a window seat so I can watch the earth pull away from the sky over the Bay. It fill my heart with joy and flying is, funny enough, one of the most relaxing adventures in the world for me. As usual, my eyes were immediately drawn to the Financial District: skyscrapers towering over the rest of the city below. I realized my focus often lingers on these, the highest spectacles in the Bay, whenever I have an aerial view opportunity. The awareness of my tendency to refer to the skyscrapers as “the City” puzzled me. Though downtown is just a small section of the seven mile peninsula, from an aerial perspective I often see it as the entire "city". I wondered if I was alone in this tendency or if others referred to the City in a similar way from a similar vantage point and began to ask myself why and how this tendency was my default.
At first the answer was immediately obvious: because the skyline has the tallest/biggest/most noticeable buildings, right? I then asked myself what I was actually looking at. According to Wikipedia, there are only 21 skyscrapers taller than 492 feet in the Financial District and they are primarily used for banking, law offices, and corporate headquarters. Below those 2 dozen or so buildings are all of our big retail and service enterprises and of course a variety of hotels. As the plane elevated, the view widened until the whole city and eventually the entire peninsula was visible. It occurred to me then that skyscrapers are a symbol of the collective priority on commerce we've adopted as global citizens. Just look at 9:11. The terrorists didn't bomb our churches or our governmental buildings, they targeted what they perceived we valued most: the Twin Towers, the pinnacle representations of our business enterprises.
From a wider aerial view, San Francisco is actually largely residential with a few parks and the beautiful bridges over the water like lace trim on the fringe of the peninsula. I could almost make out each neighborhood from the Haight to the Richmond to the Sunset District and back to the Mission. The awe-inspiring beauty of the bay, the Pacific, and every San Franciscan's pride and joy, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges was unavoidably breathtaking.
As Ayman Sawwaf, author of Sacred Commerce: The Rise of the Global Citizen, says, whether we "like it or not commerce has become the primary force propelling our species and human society forward." Sawwaf's statement is exemplified in the perspective of infrastructure I observed this morning. Where church steeples and awe-inspiring cathedrals once gracefully loomed above our cities and townships, where our nation and state capitols once dominated the views of our main thoroughfares, today hundred-floor buildings hosting heavy hitters such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Charles Schwab now prevail. Investment companies and corporate offices for some of the largest corporations in the world now command the skyline.
There is an emerging industry of pioneers championing a culture of “locally made” and sold products and services. They are home-makers, home farmers, potters, designers, brewmasters, and craftspeople...and they are on the rise. What if, as Matthew Engelhart, author of Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path to Awakening, says, “life is an inside job”? What if what we focus on internally via our thoughts, beliefs, speech, actions and attitudes, is what creates the world “out there”? Look at the world we've created where big business and fortune 500 companies are what we revere and strive to emulate regardless of the impact to ourselves, our souls, or the environment and planet at large.
What if this rise of focus on the home and the growing sexiness of daily rituals our ancestors held as sacred is a symbol of us reclaiming and shifting our “inside job?” What if the growing global attention to our local impact is actually a reflection of our collective decision to focus on love and the notion that our deepest desires, dreams and passions are not only important but vital to our survival as a species? What if getting that we matter was the single most important shift we could make for ourselves and the planet? If life is an “inside job” then we have created a world of corporate greed and materialism by holding those aspects as dear accomplishments in our hearts and making them a priority there as well. As Erin Ross of Get That You Matter says, “we all know where this line of thinking has gotten us...” With this in mind I wonder and hope that others are wondering too, what would a world that valued inner peace and alignment with self love look like from an aerial view?