Time is a multiplier of contradictions,
but at the same time also manages to mitigate,
to dissolve the contradictions …Niklas Luhmann
We are not masters of time, which escapes us and we cannot control, which never passes when we are bored, which we cannot stop for even for a moment when we are doing something important. “The time it is possible to have; the time that may be short, the time of haste and boredom ”. Time evokes the present, today, the moment, the moment … but also sadness, distrust, the lack of answers from the past. And the hope, the commitment, the possible of the future: “Next to the concrete world of the so-called social reality, there is an invisible world and therefore only imaginable, but nevertheless very important, for the understanding of the previous one: the world of the possible” . Your own self, linked to the past and the future, the infinitely backward and the inscrutable forward, in space, finished in the place, infinite in the outlines, in the horizons, the places and times of history, the facts, the actions, the destructions , the passions. “The horizon is not a border, it is not possible to cross it. Sooner or later we have to go back, in the direction indicated by the opposite horizon … ‘going back’ means, after all, approaching a horizon, but as a departure “.
It is clear that two horizons always and necessarily concur to the material constitution of meaning. “Time also stretches between particular time horizons… the past and the future. Time horizons shift as time progresses. That time interval between past and future in which the irreversibility of changes is realized, is experienced as the present. The present lasts as long as irreversibility lasts “.
General concepts, time and space, which form in the minds of philosophers and poets categories, theories, visions, fantasies of the world and of life: “In an infinite present that continually collapses under the feet into the past, which rests on wet clay , slimy, sticky and soft, leaning into a future of shapeless mud: past of crumbled earth, present made of nothing, of surprises tyrant future shapeless “. More than one essay has stopped to observe and reflect on time. Whole generations of thinkers have talked about its ephemeral aspect, its concreteness or its illusion. And then again nothingness, uncertainty, disappointment, shadows, fears: “Time that flies, time that does not exist, that does not flow, time that has no time”.
The adventure begins in the mists of time, at the birth of the first forms of social organization, from the great spatial-temporal revolution, during the Neolithic. The permanent, waiting, cultivation and harvesting places are beginning to be defined. The rhythms of day and night are scanned, sowing times, seasons, life and death are sensed. Hunters in continuous nomadism, on a space that is getting smaller and smaller; collectors in a perennial situation of scarcity, among resources increasingly to be shared with others. Every moment of these thousands of years has been experienced as the now, and has been framed in an irreversible process, increasingly rationalized, caged, disenchanted. Today, on the verge of a new millennium, we are going to reflect on this long journey … a look at our past, but above all on what afterwards.
The premises for a decent and dignified space-time dimension for humanity still persist. The problem is in the conception of time, on our way of understanding time. As long as we consider time a measure, a process linked to production, consumption, economic exchange, we will be nothing but the unsuspecting followers of Benjamin Franklin, who coined the famous saying: “Time is money”. Only if we think of time as “life”, as a daily relationship with others, freeing it from the concept of value and interest, will we overturn the saying with that of “Time… is not money”.
There is a substantial difference between time with others and the time of history. The latter is an artificial, empty time that is in the head of a group of scholars, historians, in fact. “A fake tool but necessary for every thought that wants to build universal history”, observes Angel Enrique Carretero Pasin in the wake of Halbwachs’ thought. This historical conception of time has no relationship with “real” time, which is that experienced “with others”, that which is concentrated in the present, the starting point of memory, as thought tries to re-memorize the fact lived with each other. Hence the image, the imagination, the symbolic, for centuries excluded from the scientific investigation of social disciplines because they are considered irrational elements (over 50% of human thought!), Emerge in the conceptual radicalization of the man-alter, man- relationship. space, man-world “making the synergy that exists between human imagination and space appear in the face of the anguish caused by the disappearance of time and its actualization, death”.
Ivan Illich said at the Colloque International sur l’aprés-développement held at UNESCO in March 2002: “Je n’aurais pas en latin un mot pour translating the concepte de valeur”. “I wouldn’t have a word in Latin to translate the concept of value”. It means that the concept of value is extremely recent, it belongs to modernity, to instrumental rationality, to economic behavior, that is, to when one begins to consider the time that raises interest and makes money itself “work”. But the time of “life” does not have a “value” and above all “it is not money”, it cannot be reduced to an economic exchange in the total sense. All religions have highlighted this, all have condemned lending and usury, money that takes advantage of time. Today, unfortunately, we are at an extreme limit, we are in absolute economism, we have an economic hammer, as Latouche says, which beats in our head and which makes us think only of money, value, profit, growth, all enrichment! No need to change hammer: you need to change “head”! Although much of our time today is dedicated to boosting the market economy, we cannot impose it on ourselves at all. Our time is something much more important, it is a great wealth and we cannot demean it by relating it in absolute terms to usefulness and interest. The time that passes every day, every moment, is our whole life. we must remove the notion of “yield” from time, to replace it with the floating one of the “living”. Time as a “new factor of wealth”:
- time as a link between people and not as a measure;
- the cyclical time of the seasons;
- the autonomy from the planned time of production organizations;
- the subjective, emotional time and the personal and community rhythm;
- the time of choice and sharing;
- the complementarity of the times (historical, present, short, medium and long term);
- the agreement between the time of industry with biological and geological time, for the problem of raw materials, energy and waste;
- rehabilitate the present, our present with the world and the living;
- conceive above all the end of our time of life, that is, our death, as the foundation of our action.
Patrick Viveret says: “For the human species one can actually advance the hypothesis that what ultimately constitutes the hierarchy of life values is the consciousness of death … The perception of finitude and vulnerability is the basis of every value”. True wealth does not come from our bank account, but from our creativity, our imagination and our dreams.
Sharing one’s time with that of others is the purpose of the Time Bank, a place of exchange and generosity, a way that is not at all utopian to enrich one’s life. “It seems a paradox that in a society where the time available to people is really a lot, both for those who work and for those who do nothing, it is never enough. In an attempt to recover much of the time that is lost or wasted, the Time Bank can play an important preparatory role “.
The Time Bank can be considered a social innovation. It is a social thermometer with which it is possible to measure self-promotion, active citizenship, solidarity, the ability to plan the community to which one belongs, in social cohesion and in the protection of individual, psychological and cultural diversity.