Recession - On earth together
I am profoundly interested in the development of morality and love. So finding the world in the midst of a recession I look from the perspective of love and morality as a way of understanding how and why it happens.
Since wealth became a fact of life there has been an unequal distribution of it. No external evil force creates this, but a condition in each of our souls, the urge to preserve one’s self, a fight for survival. One hundred years ago Rudolf Steiner spoke of the cause of world market problems being related to two conditions within our souls, egoism and love. But, he said we cannot expect love to win the battle over egoism as egoism and love are both part of our spiritual-physical being. We need to know our selves and understand our potential to develop consciousness in our souls to have true awareness of our spiritual, as well as, physical being. For, Egoism, or shall we say, ‘the urge to survive’ , arises in our souls from our bodies’ needs, and love that is unconditional, unreserved and life-giving is inspired by our true spiritual nature.
So, when out of our bodily need we are drawn to others, the soul connection to another gives rise to our first experience of love, a primal love. This love is born out of the need for, a parent or child, the companionship of brothers, sisters, family and friends. Primal love is central to our survival. In other words, egoistic. It is so strong that it binds us to one person or group creating a powerful sense of belonging, at the same time we can feel bereft without it.
To understand love inspired by our spirit, it helps to understand why soul and spirit can be seen as different parts of our whole being. For example, what I experience of my soul is the part of me that develops and expands in consciousness. My soul is my place of learning and where I experience all my feelings; and everything about the world. It is the essential me. Indestructible, ageless and genderless, spirit is the part of me that is and always was. It inspires me to my highest moral purpose. Only through the inspiration of my spirit can I develop love that is not created out of my need.
Through many years of studying how to develop love I have glimpsed the reality of the future being dependent on how we as human beings develop love. So, what has love to do with the cause of recession?
Here Rudolf Steiner is very helpful in pointing out that trade comes down to two elements - consumption and production. In work we produce, and in purchasing we consume. It is easy to see how our bodily nature urges us to consume, but how can we understand the process within our souls that inspires us to produce. The key may be that when we make something ourselves, even if it is simply cooking a meal, we create it with inspiration and art. It may be a dish we know and like, or newly created like a work of art. The more mindfulness and integrity in our creativity, the more we put love into what we make. In other words, anything we set out to do in service or to produce, provided it is not to harm or steal from another, can be seen as a product of love. So, in essence the ability to work and produce can be traced back to inspiration and love.
In this materialistic age most people feel they produce to consume, work to earn, or produce to make money. However, there are signs of a growing consciousness about how things are produced. For example, many are prepared to pay more for ethical, fairtrade and organic products. Recently Michelle Mountain wrote in the Odyssey that, ’Not long ago’ 'organic' or 'ethical' cosmetics was considered way out on the fringes of the mainstream.’ These products are commonly available, but what motive lies behind the production and consuming of these products? Are we able to say that we have moved towards recognizing products made with integrity and love, or do I desire them out of egoism?
How would it be if the integrity of the future world market lies in the recognition that each one produces for the other to consume? No matter what service a working person provides, no matter what earning power a worker has, they provide for others to benefit. (Only when a person lives entirely alone without using the products provided through another’s labour can they honestly say they work for their own consumption.) To judge another’s labour as too expensive we judge their service out of our own egoism. To fully acknowledge the effort and needs of those who provide what we consume, is we wake up to an act of love. Love has yet to redeem generations of our exploitation of our brothers and sisters.
Many endeavors in education, social initiatives and industry focus on the wellbeing of their workers and integrity of their products. Initiatives such as Thandi (nurturing love in Khosa) in South Africa, have given dignity and community ownership to previously impoverished farm workers.
When the ethic of Love is overcome by fear for survival the ethic is lost to consumerism. A world economy based on morality will recognise the work of all human beings as acts of brotherly love. We can begin by being mindful of how our own work serves others and not ourselves; it is the work of a fellow human being that serves us.