Peace is the only way to lasting happiness and continued economic growth.

Poverty and Pollution are Costly Capital Losses

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Our current wars, economic crisis, poverty and pollution are linked. Instead of being spent on human development investments, public funds have been spent on violent methods to solve problems. Instead of sound environmental practices, we allow life to be diminished.  War, poverty, pollution and destruction of natural resource are the same wrong to Life.

The crucial choice before us is the method we choose to solve our problems. It is between peace and war, violence and non-violence, intelligence and brute force, not between left and right, republican and democrats, capitalist and socialist, believers and non believers.  If we do not want to be dragged into more wars, more pollution and more downturn economic conditions, we must demand a non violent path.

Fostering a harmonious life is the goal of living. We may debate what harmonious is, but surely it means happiness, therefore, as much lack of suffering as possible. It means that we need a life lived, not diminished, with the chance to be productive, to be lived to the fullest possible extent of one’s ability.  As Thomas Merton said, “ Man living under certain economic conditions is no longer in possession of the fruits of Life.”

This message is not new. If one looks at Moses, Jesus, and Buddha from an economic point of view, one realizes that it is known since antiquity that fighting poverty is of the self interest of all. 

The same logic applies to all of life. If God is Life, all species have right to be and biodiversity is sacred. Equal to ours, species have a right to be.  Pollution and unsustainable use of natural resource are violence to Life.  We humans have been given the responsibility to care for Life.  We belong to life; life does not belong to us.  We are caretakers, not owners.  If we think in terms of ownership, our ownership is only temporary.  We are responsible for our actions to Life.

Economy is about productivity growth and equity building. Human beings are the smallest undividable elements of an economic system. People cannot be productive when they are hungry, sick, homeless, or skilless.   Hence human development investments are not burdens but necessary investments which produce economic growth.

The acceleration of the use of violence to solve problems is responsible for our present economic troubles.

The split between a small portion of capital dedicated to war and violence feeds on public funds and prevents strong, lasting economic growth and peace. It depletes public resources necessary to develop the market on which the vast majority of invested capital counts for its return.  The economy of war acts like a cancer on a healthy body.

In the United States, we will hear many voices again in the near future explain that we, the U.S., need to be involved in wars against terrorism, drugs, weapons of mass destruction and that programs such as missile defense systems and other such measures are absolutely necessary to foster and maintain peace and stability, including economic growth. Quite the contrary is actually true.

Only people able to be productive in peaceful conditions can create strong demand. The solution has to come from all people. Only increased demand in the market can bring a lasting solution.  Demand can be fostered, and it should be fostered. Government can help stimulate demand, but government cannot create demand. To get out of our problems we need to realize that individual enrichment comes with social solidarity.  It means that a free market economy is good if individuals can reach higher levels of productivity. Keeping people uneducated, poor and unprotected, is the surest way to prevent economic growth.

What can we do together about it?

For example:

Churches and non-for profit organizations could purchase foreclosing real estate assets and let people live in them paying rent with an option to buy their own property back.  With time, one can expect financial accounts placed in such operations to turn positive for everyone involved.

We can create a system that will protect everyone with health insurance and dental insurance while preventing abusive invoicing for service and medicine. 

We can give credit to countries for sound environmental management through world banking institutions so as to foster sustainable development.

Please let me know your thoughts and ideas on how to improve our condition locally and globally. Let’s work on Peace together.