Values & Economics – Imagine That! Korten, Continued

David Korten is making clear that economics—all economics—rests on values.  Questions are arising in the wake of a global pandemic that is laying low so much of our economic system and exposing so much corruption and unfairness, racism and injustice, abuse of workers and indifference to the dangerous conditions in which they labor. 

Variety of paper money. Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash.

The current emergency is inviting us to Wake Up and take responsibility for economics—and take it back from the economic pooh-bahs who think they are the popes of the hallowed “market place.”  Time to get out of our couches and resist Wall Street and its patrons, including lawmakers, judges, bankers and the rest who make decisions for us about what kind of economics we will embrace.  And with it, what kind of politics we will continue to tolerate.  Values matter.

Korten warns that we live currently in a “global suicide economy,” which is “a product of human choices motivated by a love of money. It is within our means to make different choices motivated by a love of life.”  When he is saying this he is talking about values.  Isn’t it time that the rest of us had a say in what values we espouse and want to see embedded in our economic and political systems in the future?

Wind turbines in Rubio, Spain. Photo by Anna Jiménez Calaf on Unsplash

He says, “Like a healthy ecosystem, a healthy twenty-first-century economy must have strong local roots and maximize the beneficial capture, storage, sharing, and use of local energy, water, and mineral resources. “ Korten refuses to settle for a right/left simplistic reporting on what is going on and has been going on economically.  He calls all of us to take responsibility—not unlike Meister Eckhart of centuries ago.  If “we are all aristocrats,” as Eckhart preached, then we are all responsible to be heard and to fashion, with the help of our representatives, an economics worthy of ourselves and of our planet and the amazing creatures with whom we share it and whom we need for our own survival.  Maybe it is time to take economics away from economists; (and religion away from clerics; and education away from academic elites so that learning trumps education).

The Main Street of Catonsville, MD in the United States. Used with permission from Phila Hoopes.

One way any particular profession ensures its dominance is by telling the rest of us that their specialty is so difficult that we must shut up while they wrap it in language that is so esoteric that it ensures their staying at the top of the hierarchical order.  But values are not esoteric.  We can list ours simply and make them the foundation of economics and challenge the economic hierarchies to lay their values on the table.

Korten’s values favor Main Street over Wall Street and he believes they are achievable “community by community, all across this nation, by unleashing the creative energies of our people.”

Maybe the next president should invite David Korten to be the next Treasury secretary.  Or at least a chief advisor to the next treasury secretary.

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Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 237-241.

Banner Image: Computer screen showcasing economic stocks. Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Is it your experience that we are living in a “global suicide economy?” motivated by a “love of money” over a “love of life”? 

Meditate on the values that you would like to see undergird our economic system.  Write them down.  Share them. Act on them.

Recommended Reading

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

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4 thoughts on “Values & Economics – Imagine That! Korten, Continued”

  1. Avatar
    Margaret Rose Hess

    From my heart I thank you so much for today’s meditation.
    I completely agree with Matthew Fox and David Korten that we need a new vision for our economic future that honors and sustains the interdependence of all life. Here where I live, in what I think of as the most beautiful of cities, so full of life and love, and all over our beloved country we are seeing the results of a history pitiful attempts to put band aids over the deep societal infections of racism and other forms of economic injustice. Band aids to not heal these hideous sores, which continue fester, spread, and break open, manifesting as oppression and injustice, even murder. A system built on exploitation and racism is lethal and suicidal. Do we not have eyes to see the suffering and ears to hear the cries for breath?

    1. Avatar

      You put it so well, Margaret. I agree. It seems to me the human race is on a race to self-destruction, pell mell. There are wise and prophetic voices like Matthew and David and many others. Sojourners Jim Wallis and the Poor People’s Campaign have sounded the alarm and suggested the directions we need to go. I pray that enough “worker stock” wake up and decide that they deserve better–so many have internalized their oppression.

      1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
        Richard Reich-Kuykendall

        I too pray that “enough ‘worker stock’ will wake up and decide that they deserve better.” And you’re right in that so many have “internalized their oppression.” But it’s time to walk the Via Transformativa more than ever. We need to first transform ourselves in likeness to the character of Christ, and then work together to transform our society!

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Margaret, thank you for your comment! Yes, we do need “a new vision for our economic future that honors and sustains the interdependence of all life.” And we cannot only see, but have seen in the past, that bandaids only cover problems but never heal them, and it is for this reason that we have economic injustice which breeds all kinds of other injustices such as, racism and oppression of the poor. May we all pray and work towards a day that will see justice prevail!

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