Values

Holistic Values For Spiritual & Economic Democracy

Towards A Political Economy of Love

SEVEN PATHS TOWARDS A SHARED MORAL IMAGINATION

The purpose of New Harmony is to look at how we might resource a society, culture and political economy that is more aware and respectful of inner values and that are congruent with the new holism by considering the wisdom found in seven related domains.

In their book ‘Spontaneous Evolution’(i),Bruce H. Lipton and Steve Bhaerman suggest that

Heaven is a practice not a destination

They cite the story of the native American grandfather who tells his grandson of the two wolves who fight inside us all. “One is the wolf of love and peace, the other of anger and war”. When asked which one will win, the grandfather replies that it depends upon which one we feed.

They go on to say that whether out of guilt, shame, blind self-interest or greed, “those who have been infected by the ‘dominator virus’ have tried to convince us that the only form of human nature is their own”. But today in the west we live a world of relative abundance rather than scarcity and each one of us can freely choose the nature of our being human.

Lipton and Bhaerman have called for promising directions through which we can manifest our evolutionary destiny and a new world story based on perennial wisdom and holistic science. We therefore offer what we believe are seven promising paths to consider:

1. Our Shared Inheritance – Being Human, Nature & The Commons

2. Our Shared Creation – Holistic Scientific & Cultural Perspectives

3. Our Interconnectedness – The Cosmology and Democratic Cultures of Indigenous Peoples

4. Our Inner Values – Inclusive, Trans-Denominational Spirituality, Faith and Mindfulness Perspectives

5. Values that Nourish Life – The Re-Empowerment of The Feminine and Mothering

6. Values that Protect and Nurture Life – The Supportive Family and the Significance of the Constant Father

7. Values of Sharing Life – The Development of Shared Value through Economic Democracy  & Common Wealth Capital

Each of the above ‘paths’ is a domain in itself that contains a perspective on autonomy and unity which individuals of great commitment and knowledge have spent their lives studying and developing. Each contains a kernel that is universal and therefore which can potentially be adopted by a majority of people as part of a unifying narrative. There may well be other ‘domains’ that we have overlooked that could make a similar contribution and if so we invite your suggestions. Each of the above domains will be given its own space in the New Harmony Blog and by invitation to specialist guest writers more knowledgeable than ourselves.

All of these domains presume and necessitate a re-interpretation of what constitutes legitimate moral authority, individual “Right Action” and the values that can deliver a fair society.

Before looking in more detail at the seven paths we have proposed above, we discuss one particular overview that we think provides a fruitful context for a unifying moral imagination.

The Authority Of Love Rather Than The Love Of Authority

In his lecture ‘The Meaning of Love in The World’ (ii), Rudolf Steiner suggests that of the three main powers in the human world – Wisdom, Might and Love – the first two may by degrees of magnitude be enhanced or reduced, but this is not true of Love. Love simply is or is not. The fact that both power and intelligence can be increased or decreased means they can both be used individually and collectively for good or ill. We therefore have free will to choose. But of course the highest choice is neither power  ( Might) nor cleverness (Wisdom) but Love. Steiner writes, “Our deep concern must be that an impulse for sound, healthy development shall find its way into the affairs of humanity.

To disseminate Love over the earth in the greatest measure possible, to promote Love on the earth — that and that alone is wisdom”.

Unlike cleverness and charm or power and control, the gesture of Love in the world is inherently capable of encompassing self-restraint because by definition Love has no self-interest.

For millennia different cultures throughout the world have held individuals in high regard who exemplify attributes of integrity and goodness, but in Britain today, we seem particularly nervous about ‘goodness’. In ancient China, Confucianism referred to a noble man as a ‘Junzi’ which literally meant an exemplary person who would act with Altruism, Justice, Propriety, Knowledge and Integrity- known as The Five Constants. The Buddhists speak of the Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path which lead one to Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood. Islam and Sufism speak of the necessity for Greater or Inner Jihad to conquer our temptations in order to become a true human being. In recent times new inter faith initiatives such as the Oneness movement and Subud have emerged that are congruent with both Buddhist and Sufi values. Sikhism promotes the Three Pillars of sharing with others, honest living and focusing on God. In the Jewish tradition a person of integrity, honour, and noble character is called a “Mensch”- interestingly an equivalent word is missing from the English Language. In Christianity the icon of the mother and child suggests that Love is both a divine impulse and a universal human gesture. The early Chinese wisdom based on the observation of nature over centuries contains the Taoist concept of Ying and Yang, of the Mother within the Father and the Father within the Mother.

We all intuitively recognise goodness as distinct from self -interest, even when the latter comes in the guise of “giving to get”.

Genevieve Vaughn’s perspective that “we are all mothered children” (iii) suggests there is within the mothers gesture of Love an element of self sacrifice. In writing about his esoteric interpretation of Christianity, Rudolf Steiner says:

“Love is not capable of diminution or amplification…it’s nature is quite different from wisdom and might. Love is the counterweight to wisdom and might”

He goes on to argue that anyone who understands this distinction must be considered Christian. At its heart, Love evokes the golden rule and embodies forgiveness.

Without a cultural context to encourage us towards the right choice, we are easily seduced by power and by cleverness. It is as though we find ourselves in a collective ‘prisoners dilemma’ – until we are reassured of the likelihood that everyone will examine their conscience and act ethically, we are unwilling to take the risk. Leaders in politics, banking, business, traditional faith groups, the professions and the media continue to operate out of an old world paradigm based on separatist tribalism and warrior values which are out of step with a growing proportion of the population who are ready for a leap forward to a new harmonious way of being that supports us all in creating ‘Right Relationship’ with ourselves, with each other and with the world.

What seems to be missing from our contemporary culture is a unifying narrative of inner and outer values that offers a touchstone of Honour, Nobility, and Love that affirms the sacredness of life .

The revolution that has taken place in science and technology, added to the desire and the completely justifiable demand for equality, transparency and awareness, has left many of our cultural, spiritual, political , business and political leaders behind.

Clarifying those values that are congruent with the new harmony is no small task in that it requires a moral and political renaissance in which those in positions of power have to reassess what it is to be a Human Being and act out of that place.

This surely means choosing to act, not for the sake of power or cleverness, but out of the authority of Love. Our leaders will not do that until we have done that too.

Our starting point is that values, including spiritual values that envisage something greater than ourselves, must be an integral part of personal and political deliberation and action. The basis of politics is usually power, whilst the basis of authentic Trans-denominational Spirituality is morality and ‘faith’. Is it possible to reconcile the two and bring inner values, and thereby mindfulness and integrity, into a radical politics of Interdependence?

A Communion of Subjects

Perhaps one of the most ancient and resilient human institutions is the family. We believe it is helpful to use the idea of the family as a microcosm of society as a metaphor for looking at wider issues. Families that operate on the basis of power and which serve the interests of only some of their members rather than all, are unlikely to last whereas those that operate on the principles of Interdependence are more likely to endure. Sustainability in a social sense is therefore a function of values and culture. The same is surely true for ecological and environmental issues.

The task we collectively face is to create a culture and politics that as Sean Kelly (iv) has suggested, in his work on Integral Ecology, is best characterized as “A Communion of Subjects”.

Harvey Gillman (v) has suggested communication is a function of communion –  “real communication takes place when there is an element of communion; when people share the grain of their lives rather than the slogans which they repeat to give each other a sense of identity.”

The  inspiring vision of a Communion of Subjects, whether taken literally or as a metaphor enables us to re-frame our own and the worlds story in a universal perspective  that gives meaning to our efforts in a way that supports cooperation and mutuality.

To bring diverse interests together needs to be done on the basis of an inspiring vision that gives us shared meaning. Only a holistic politics based upon Radical Interdependence can deliver sustainability. When we begin to appreciate the implications of seeing the world as well as each other as subjects rather than as objects we cannot imagine such a politics could be unconscious or exclude spiritual values. We invite discussion of the principles that might inform such a holistic politics.

There is hope for values led change. One example of values led leadership comes from the Synergized Earth Network’s core values of inter-generational leadership. They start with inner values that can lead to outer change. Their values  include: human dignity, intention, conscious choice, alignment, focus on strengths, quality of life, conducive environments, change from within, synergy, bridge  building, diversity in unity and community. Links to their website can be found below.

 

Notes

(i)  Bruce H. Lipton and Steve Bhaerman ‘Spontaneous Evolution’

(ii) Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Meaning of Love in The World’

(iii) Genevieve Vaughn, ‘For-Giving – A Feminist Critique of Exchange

(iv) Sean Kelly  ‘Integral Ecology’

(v) Harvey Gilman, ‘Communicating Across Divides: Reflections on An Authentic Language of the Spirit’

vi) Synergized Earth Network Core Values  :   www.synergizedearthnetwork.org/philosophy_and_core_values

Synergized Earth Network or SEN is a value-driven intergenerational worldwide network uniting young emerging and existing leaders in all segments of society to tackle the most pressing challenges of the 21st century towards committed action for a better today and tomorrow.

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