Restructuring the Emotion Economy

Just after you began to develop intuitive grasp of the emotion economy through your parents and siblings as they gave love, shared joy and offered compassion, you began to glimpse its dual nature, the dichotomy that bifurcates it into two modes: the positive and the negative. The latter was raging all around, evident despite your parents’ efforts to surround you with transactions of the former. You saw the subtle and blaring exchanges of prejudice for inequity and resentment, then the trade of hatred for violence on many scales—the myriad activities of what we call The Dark Economy.

As you grew up in a society entrenched in these two economic paradigms, you came to know The Dark Economy in its deep intricacies, the fierce feelings and thoughts it values and deals in. But you didn’t seek shelter in the institutions of positive emotional conduct many of us scrambled to take refuge in. To our amazement, you made it your business to alter the economic status quo, pursuing the ambitious goal of converting currencies to expand the positive and diminish the negative.

How is it that so embedded in the extensive structure of The Dark Economy, navigating its patterns of circulation, feeling the force of its deepest currents, you cultivated the resolve to shift the long-standing equilibrium of these two economies? That you, even in your absent affluence of love and abundance of pain, swore allegiance to the mode of the emotion economy you knew first and made the decision to exchange assets of the negative for those of the positive? Returning bitterness with love, swapping hostil- ity with kindness, displacing despair with promise, supplanting the power of fear with that of passion, you empowered us to be robustly engaged in the business of positive emotions. How is it that you can do this and took my sorrows and replenished my hope?

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