Look carefully at the picture above: Notice the “Honor System” sign? When we visited this beautiful rural farm market with our grandchildren on a weekday, we were a little surprised to see it. We spent $20 there that day and we HONESTLY loved picking out our pumpkins and cushaws and leaving the payment in their simple lockbox! Then, last weekend, I noticed this sign at a festival we attended:
Honor boxes have been around since as long as I can remember and remain a point of nostalgic pride and practicality. I love the convenience and simplicity of this system, and I have to believe most of us really are being honest, or the farmers and vendors would never survive. Here’s what I see in this behavior: When you sell me something I want, and trust me to pay you even when you’re not looking, you’ve made my life good in two ways. I get something delicious, and I also get a good feeling about myself. Both of those things make me feel good about the world— that I’m in a good place. And I also see you as a contributor to that good — as somebody I want to reward. It’s a win-win. The people at these businesses are not pressured by starvation or poverty or some extreme behavior warping condition, so they are naturally relaxed and eager to do the right thing. When our level of satisfaction is high enough we can allow ourselves to consider others. If we feel well served, we do in fact want to reciprocate. The basis of a more connected and cooperative society will always be formed by meeting everyone’s basic needs first and the rest will work itself out as in the above examples. I see a brighter future for all of us if we can live simply and work now to meet each others’ basic needs instead of waiting until everyone is overwhelmed by unnatural pressures of survival. If we work at it, honor farms can become our preferred self-regulating method of food distribution.
These are no ordinary times we’re living in folks, but by reweaving our connection with community and with one another through simple actions like honor systems, we’ll all be able to survive and thrive – trust me!
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