I just heard an awesome story on NPR, or BBC to be more specific, about this guy named Michael Doyle, if I recall correctly. Mr. Doyle has decided to spend the next two and a half years of his life walking nearly 9,000 miles from England to Ghandi's birthplace in India. Here's the hook: he's not bringing any money.
All of his possessions on the trip fit in his backpack-- t-shirts, a good knife, a spoon. He plans to offer services such as gardening in exchange for travel and lodging along the way. He calls his philosophy Free Economics, I think.
His inspiration came from, you guessed it, his parents. It's amazing how many of us young punks grow up to see what upstanding dudes and dudettes our parents are. (That's right, you're a total dudette, Mom.) As a child, Doyle remembers his mum and da' telling him stories about old timey Ireland, when neighbors would help each other with whatever was needed, all to get the harvest in. Now, he laments, his parents don't even know the names of the people living on their street. So, he decided to test the generosity of people across Europe and Asia by going completely sans cash, bank accounts, or credit cards.
Sounds like a guru journey to me. What a wonderful idea. Doyle anticipates he'll have an easy time in Asia, where he's traveled before, but predicted that Europe will be a challenge. After all, when you've lived in a free Adam Smith-style economy, it's easy to value money more than time. It's natural to forget about those longer-lasting values, like friendship, loyalty, and trust. They may have had an important role in our tribal-system evolution, but now those ideals seem almost outdated.
I admire Mr. Doyle immensely, and I hope he's totally successful. Maybe someday I'll be that brave, and have that much trust in my fellow man.
PS For more information on why we tip, and how trust and loyalty were instilled in us by Darwinian evolution, may I suggest The Mind of the Market, by Michael Shermer. I heard this guy speak at Powell's. His work is fascinating and insightful.