7. You shall not subject your
actions to economic interests
Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life(LS 189).
Throughout these months of campaigning, in the reflections of the published principles of the Green Decalogue following the articles of the Laudato Si', we have turned our gaze to the situation of Mother Earth and of the most forgotten people. We have invited you to rediscover simple ways of life and suggested how to make them possible with conscious gestures in our daily behaviour, to appreciate and care for the rich diversity of our world. We have encouraged personal, ecclesial and community conversion and to encourage the necessary decisions even if they are costly.
In this seventh principle, without ceasing to look at what challenges us as people responsible for what happens in our land, we are going to change the focus and become voices that cry out to those who hold the power of decision in politics and in the economy, who finally guide, fix and condition our lives to a great extent.
We ask the people who exercise power at the different levels of politics and economics, as well as in science and technology, to always return, in their decision-making, to their level and condition of citizenship. We ask them to strip themselves of the impersonality of looking from above, no matter how high, so as not to lose sight of the perspective of the common because, sooner or later, to a greater or lesser extent, they will be affected by their decisions.
Believers see in Jesus Christ the path for a Christian understanding of reality, because although "all things have been created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16) he lowered himself to the smallest size to see us and serve us from there.
It is rightly said that not all responsibilities are equal in their contribution to the deterioration of the economic, social and environmental situation.
Greater power for decision-making, knowledge and personal benefit means greater responsibility. Therefore, in order to exercise it well, a general conversion is essential, both personal, and socio-ecological.
In this principle we encourage said conversion to avoid or correct a distorted vision and practice of the economy, in which the maximization of short-term profits is more important, and where the financial economy is more important than the real economy (cf. LS 85). The fields of political decisions and the orientation of scientific and technical solutions are easily conditioned when "economic interests easily end up trumping the common good" (LS 54) and "finance overwhelms the real economy" (LS 109).
In this disoriented system, economic crises follow one another and, in each one of them, as a reaction to their uncontrolled consequences and effects, voices arise that point to solutions that are not attended to. A recent example is "the financial crisis of 2007-08 provided an opportunity to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and new ways of regulating speculative financial practices and virtual wealth. But the response to the crisis did not include rethinking the outdated criteria which continue to rule the world" (LS 189).
It is necessary to overcome the "techno-economic paradigm" (LS 203) that dominates us in order to recover an economy at the service of human beings and respectful of creation, "an "economic ecology" capable of appealing to a broader vision of reality" (LS 141).
Perhaps it is asking too much, but it involves all people, especially those who exercise power at different levels, looking with the eyes of the most vulnerable so as not to lose sight of our being. A humble view, from below, of small beings and, therefore, of limited and short reach. This avoids deciding from selfishness or particular interests, from the superiority of political, economic, scientific, technical or cultural power.
Voices that claim...
Yanomami People, Brazil
When we divide the earth, there is no such thing as poor, rich, high class, low class, or any kind, there is no classification in our cultural context.
know that in the Amazon, wealth is not only in plant resources, natural
resources, there is knowledge, culture, diverse languages, and we know that we
We are affected by extractive activities that
have to do with illegal exploitation in indigenous lands, oil, agribusiness
that advance more and more.
I believe that these are not activities that are going to bring a dignified life to the indigenous peoples of this country.
Founder of the Focolare Movement, Italy
Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement, initiated the Economy of Communion in May 1991. The Berlin Wall had just fallen and the great changes that have led us to this 21st century capitalism, which poses hitherto unknown challenges, were beginning.
In view of the enormous contrast between the centre of the city of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and the favelas that surrounded it like a crown of thorns, he heard the cry of the victims of an economic system capable of generating a lot of wealth, but absolutely incapable of sharing more than a few crumbs with the most needy.
ECONOMY OF COMMUNION
[...] He felt the urge to give an answer. He could have created an NGO to help the poor. However, he had the "prophetic" intuition to launch a radical challenge to the heart of the economic system: business.
Her proposal was to create companies that would compete freely in the market and make profits, but would use those profits to fight poverty and exclusion, as well as to develop and spread a new economic culture open to free gift, reciprocity and communion.
These are companies are "usual" but "different", as they radically question the way in which business profits are obtained and even their very nature. Companies whose primary objective is not the maximization of profit but the creation of wealth to share, to alleviate different forms of poverty. Companies that are "agents of communion," according to the definition given by Pope Francis in February.
Evidently, there was no lack of doomsayers at first, who said that it was not going to work, that economy and communion do not belong. They said that the economy - presumably amoral because it is based on rationality and technique - is uncomfortable when concepts so difficult to measure and manage are associated with it, but so essential to the very life of companies, such as gratuitousness and communion.
However, the experience of over a thousand companies and thousands of people who have given life to the project during these 26 years in different fields - research, training, fight against different forms of poverty - shows the opposite. It is good for the economy to be bound to communion, so as not to lose its humanity or its original and profound vocation as an oikonomia, oriented towards good governance of the common home. Communion is magnified by economy, not to remain in spiritualism and become something concrete: communion of goods, talents, benefits.
It is true that the project is still small - a thousand enterprises are nothing compared to the immensity of the business world - but it is enough to show that it is something more than a utopia.
Many have found in this project a way to give meaning to their profession and action in the economic world. A path correspondent to a vocation, in many cases lay, to improve concretely the lives of people who do not have what is necessary to lead a dignified existence, to defend work that is today more and more marginalized, to offer a future to young people from different countries and to fight against unelected poverty by choosing a sober life.
What can you do
(or stop doing)?
1.- Stop to think, do not be afraid, the Lord is with you. You will not subordinate your action to economic interests. Stopping to think about the transforming power of this sentence is a first step to change our daily behaviours and put them at the service of people and the environment in which we share space with the rest of creatures of Creation. Starting to think and behave differently is not a sign of eccentricism, rebelliousness without cause or threat to well-being. For Christians it is simply to follow the path of Jesus.
4.- Skip the logic of International Markets and consume Fair Trade products. There are products such as coffee, cocoa, cane sugar or tea, which are not produced near us, but we can acquire them with guarantees that they have been produced respecting the rights of people and the environment.
2.- Can we start by thinking about whether we need so many material things: so many clothes? so many cars owned? So much food that ends up in the garbage? Do we really need to replace a consumer product, simply because it has gone out of fashion? Freeing ourselves from the slavery of consumerism can be a good beginning to get to know ourselves better and ask ourselves if the intensive consumption of things to use and throw away really makes us more human, or simply means putting our forces, desires and illusions at the service of economic interests that are alien to us.
5.- If "finance overwhelms the real economy" (LS 109) skip the logic of conventional finance and join ethical banking. We are well aware of how the financial economy and its actors, the banks fundamentally, do things in a way that generates suffering for millions of people around the world. Investments in arms, in large constructions that drive thousands of people out of their homes, generating houses without people, when there are people without homes... However, there is another way of doing finance, supporting the initiatives of the real economy that seek a sustainable development of the areas where they are located.
3.- Challenges the logic of the big fish eating the small fish and begins with consuming local products, goods and services from small local producers. You will feel the closeness of the people who produce them and the land from which they come. You can become a member of a consumption group (a group of people who buy food regularly and jointly directly from those who produce it. The products you buy range from fresh fruits and vegetables, to cleaning products, clothes, etc. They have at least one informal organisational agreement and sometimes a legal structure (e.g. cooperatives) between them.
6.- Today, we have the possibility of joining a new way of producing, distributing and consuming, such as the one carried out within the Social Markets. They are spaces in which people consume goods and services produced by Social and Solidaric Economy companies that put the person and their care in the centre of economic activity. Most of these companies are cooperatives closely linked to the territory in which they carry out their activity, generating local development processes.
7.- If we have Social Markets in which we find cooperative production, ethical finance and fair trade. Why don't we close the circle by contributing to responsible, conscious and transformative consumption? We can find almost all kinds of goods and services in Social Markets. We can consume them individually or, better yet, collectively, by participating in consumer groups or cooperatives. There are all kinds of cooperatives, starting with those that produce and market electricity, to cultural cooperatives, such as theatres, and all the way to those that produce food or financial services.
And Jesus said to his disciples:
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Let us work, Father, for the common good of humanity and of our planet. Help us to avoid our selfishness and not to let ourselves be guided by economic interests that move away from service to people and from the important things in life. We ask this of you.