Our economies are a reflection of who we are, what we think, and the things we value in life. It is not a self-made nor a self-governing system, independently following its own path, running its autonomous course. It is our ideas that shape the system, set the parameters and conditions, and how it performs is up to us. It can be a never-ending journey into the best version of ourselves, embracing our perfect imperfections – we are as gifted as we are flawed. To describe our economic choices and behaviours whilst including the complexity of the human being, this scientific endeavour also needs another language, one that is richer and more accurate.
Something is known as far as it is loved - Augustine
We learn, we study, do research. We teach our findings and pass on our knowledge. In short, mind, heart and hands at work. Also this is a never-ending journey, for each answer gives birth to a new question. The rational mind is capable of coming up with brilliant solutions and the smartest of answers. But not everything can be explained. The inconsistencies, the irrational. We work with many axioms beyond logic. Simply because there is more. How to measure hope, trust, or faith and beliefs? Love? Or resentment, greed, neglect? Although these are hard to put into quantitative data, because in such a case they would automatically be transformed, their importance to the functioning of economies and societies is a crucial and undeniable fact.
If [justice] is removed, the great, the immense fabric of human society, that fabric which to raise and support seems in this world if I may say so has the peculiar and darling care of Nature, must in a moment crumble into atoms. - Adam Smith
Humans build columns, for their sacred places and their homes. Structures of stone, guided by mathematics to ensure stability. We build our societies and economies as well. From ideas and ideals, concepts and beliefs. It is not a matter of just combining facts and all will be fine. It is also about resources, abilities, opportunities and power in our spiritual realm. The angel reminds us to make good use of it, and that our constructions, whether they’d be in concrete matter or in the realm of ideas, should aim for the sky.
Love and do what you will - Augustine
Powerful words can drive change. Acting with the best intention, to be judged by the actions that follow them through, is the real worth, effectiveness or success. In short, it is the proof of the pudding. This is about going beyond purpose, since strategies and goals should be sustained by values, principles, and perhaps most of all, love. True leadership stands out, and starts with: I truly care.
No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable – Adam Smith
The sky is the limit – or isn’t it? What is progress? Profitability, growth? What do rising GNP statistics tell us about wellbeing and happiness? In a world where humankind has pushed the planet to its limits and wealth is measured in financial currency, likewise there is growing social inequality and an ecological agenda with the highest urgency. Stewardship instead of ownership, it is a mindset of another kind. Based on values, trust, and reciprocity.
It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger – Kahlil Gibran
In this 21th century data-driven world, the vast majority of economic transactions are anonymous. We are dealing with systems and technology, these virtual realities create a distance which is not only physical. In a system that emphasizes transactions, relations tend to play a subordinate role. Yet, all flourishing communities, whether small or large, are built on solid matter: trust.
We Trust. We Care. We Build.