Towards Economic Justice and Post-Racist Society

Before the murder of George Floyd by police officers, we were discussing new models of economics.  We led with some ideas from David Korten.* Then we ‘interrupted’ that meditation to consider the issues raised by police violence, the marchers responding in the streets, and more. 

PBS NewsHour coverage of Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival led by Bishop William J. Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

Yet racism and economic injustice are closely allied.  King’s final years were dedicated to fighting for economic justice and for good reason.  Economics remains a burning issue in our body politic.  One cannot separate racial from economic justice (or environmental justice for that matter).

In a recent paper that is very much to the point and done at the request of the United Nations, Korten lays out the future of an economics that will benefit all humans as well as our endangered planet.  He calls the paper, “Wellbeing versus GDP: The Challenge and Opportunity of Human Development in the 21st Century.”  See Wellbeing versus GDP: The Challenge and Opportunity of Human Development in the 21st Century

Poor People’s Campaign Mass People’s Choir singing “A New Unsettling Force

To summarize a few of his main points.  In the US the richest 1 percent of the country own substantially more wealth than the bottom 90%;  6 in 10 Americans do not have the resources to come up with $1000 for an emergency such as a medical bill or car repair.  World over, 26 billionaires hold personal financial assets greater than 50% of humanity.  As for carbon emissions, 10% of the richest people on earth account for 50% of the carbon emissions.  Our species is currently consuming 1.7 times what Earth’s regenerative systems can sustain.

Korten lays out 3 tasks that can help turn the tide.  First is to redirect purpose from growing GDP to securing the wellbeing of people and the planet.  Since “Growing GDP is detrimental to the wellbeing of people and Earth,” we need to redirect the very purpose of economics.

Teambuilding. Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash.

Second, redirect power from money-seeking corporations to life-serving communities.  To accomplish this, “equitable distribution of ownership rights and responsibilities must be enshrined in both law and culture.”  Individualism must yield to a community awareness, that is to the common good and to justice. 

Third, Korten urges us to redirect procreation from increasing the human population to launching healthy, meaningful, and productive lives.  “Every child must be a wanted child.”  We have enough human children in the world but “what we lack is adequate attention to the care and development of all our children to reach their full potential.” 

Community gathering. Photo by Hillary Ungson on Unsplash.

The pandemic, Korten believes, can give us space to step back and evaluate who we are as a species and where we want to go and how an intelligent and working economic system can assist us achieve our goals and values. 

Korten’s mature perspective matches beautifully with the goals of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the “beloved community” and of Thomas Aquinas for the “common good” that we have considered in recent meditations.  More than ever, I hope future presidents listen deeply to Korten’s wisdom.  Economics doesn’t need more band-aids but more substance to serve, among other goals, a post-racist agenda.

*For previous DMs on David Korten and his views on Economics: See, David Korten on a New Economics See, David Korten on a “New Economy of Life” See, Values & Economics – Imagine That! Korten, Continued

See Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 397-505;

and Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

Banner Image: People march at the Black Lives Matter protest in Washington DC 6/6/2020 (IG: @clay.banks). Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

How do Korten’s three challenges to current economic theories sit with you?  How do you connect your spiritual awareness and practice to contributing to a healthier and therefore holier economic system?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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