Learning from the JiE conference
(Click for other articles about the 2014 Joy In Enough Conference)
especially WG1 by Phil Kingston writes:
I found this an inspiring day. The first class speakers and the members of workshops opened up a great deal for me. The journey home and the time since has that familiar sense of feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of what we are trying to do and placing the hope of the conference in the middle of that.
Whether my learning means anything to others is out of my hands but I want to pass on my main thoughts. The most important is:
a realisation that the legal requirement upon firms to maximise profit is the primary promoter of an economic structure and process which is wrecking the Earth – and at the same time gives a public basis for a culture of greed.
This realisation came home to me most of all in the WG1 workshop ‘The Big Transnational Questions’, where we were trying to understand Procter and Gamble’s collusion in the destruction of Indonesian rainforests which are rich in God’s creation and where beautiful animals like Sumatran tigers and Orang-Utans are being extinguished for palm oil development. A case-study helped us to focus upon changes which this corporation could make in maintaining the rainforest and its life, including indigenous peoples. We came up with many valuable changes but if the primary driver of the present destruction is the legal requirement for maximum profit (fully supported by shareholders, Boards and CEOs), then the firm remains in a context where, in the end, money takes precedence over life.
Like many others, I received a public email from Polly Higgins a few days before the conference. She wrote: ‘If there is one step that can change the outcome for the Earth community, it is when we put in place a law that stops mass damage and destruction. This takes greatness – it’s a call to every one of us to speak out and support something greater than the self. That something greater is to put first the very sacredness of life itself’ (her emphasis). The law requiring the maximisation of profit is not compatible with the law which Polly advocates.
Speaking openly about the damage done by the legal requirement to maximise profit is essential if we are to free ourselves and others from the belief that the current economic model is capable of being reformed. It isn’t reformable, simply because we cannot serve both God and money. Our WG1 workshop came up with some brilliant questions for the Christian (imagined?) CEO of Procter and Gamble. I would have liked to ask one based upon Jesus’ statement about God and money, namely ‘Do you find that the legal requirement to maximise profit stops you from serving God as you would love to, especially in caring for God’s creation?’
I just hope that I would have asked it with love, knowing that the question, perhaps differently phrased, is also for me.