How extreme is our economy?

Caux_muralThis is a guest post by Invest in Peace Co-founder Rishabh Khanna.

A few weeks back, I went for a workshop on Islamic economy, not that I am muslim, but I am intrigued that certain faiths and traditions which are older than the neo liberal economy have a lot to offer for creating a sane and compassionate economy. One of the most critical aspects that he talks about in his presentation is that of scarcity, and that the very concept can make us act from two different human emotions.

Fear as the basis of an economy of scarcity is an extreme

The first one is fear, a fear of not having enough for my daily bread, a fear of being left out in the heard if I don’t consume the say way as my peers do. I have to say that this fear of scarcity can lead to a very extreme economy, an economy in which its about the survival of the fittest, and from reptilian survival instinct I can kill in order to ensure my survival. The false economy of fear, is making us kill our ecological system, an ecological system which is the foundation of life. We all feel the abundance of nature, our soil, water, sunshine, trees, all of which serves our needs in the most self less manner. The outer ecological system is deep rooted in us as well.

An economy based on abundance is one of moderation

The second fundamental human emotion is love, compassion, which leads to creative problem solving. This is what the Quran, bible, Torah and most other holy books talk about, its the paradigm of abundance by trusting in the intuitive intelligence, higher power or god, because if we believe that there is abundance we will find the ways to meet every one needs. At times if we find abundance and inner peace through gratefulness for what I have in this present moment, I might not need to consume so much. The Buddists call it the middle path, many Swedes would call it lagom, and I was surprised that in Islamic economics it can be called path of moderation.

An economy of extreme injustice shores up violence

If we look deeper into all the incidents of violence acted out by the extreme groups like ISIS, or Al Qaeda, most of them have been borne from the social and economic injustices of the extreme economy.

We have enough in this world for everyones’ needs but not for anyones’ greed. Gandhi

Resource conflicts in Kurdistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, or even parts of Africa are driven by the extractive economy which is underpricing the value of ecological and social capital. If tomorrow we move all our money from oil to renewable energy, ISIS would not have a revenue source for continuing their conflict. If we all switched from an Iphone to a fairphone, our friends in Congo would live in peace and tranquility. Awareness of our choices, lifestyle, knowing the difference between essential needs and indefinite desires could lead to an economy of love and compassion. As Gandhi has said years back we have enough in this world for everyones’ needs but not for anyones’ greed.

Trillions now committed to an economy of peace

Recently faith leaders from all over the world met in Zurich to commit trillions of dollars of assets to be invested in sustainable and ethical manner, this could be a very strong symbol of love and compassion, which has the power to shit the financial system. I hope that this initiative taken by the ARC ( Alliance of Religions and Conservation ) and inspires others to follow.