Embracing the whole in life and the ecology in the economy

The whole is greater than the sums of its parts, an old truth that’s been constantly overlooked ever since reductionist science got hold of our thinking.  The result has been ever more specialisation and fragmentation of our thinking which has brought us to a state where we pay far more attention to individual components of the earth than we pay to the whole.  The price of this thinking is being played out in our destructive economic system that is hooked on growth, and the over simplification of predicaments by thinking that if we fix one problem we have made a significant difference.

Anyone thinking outside these supposed ‘normals’ is considered unorthodox and side-lined.

Having said all this, there are always people who will not be hoodwinked by the supposed benefits of these ideas.  We feature two of them here in this post.

Firstly, physicist David Bohm (1917-1992). The notion that humans are superior beings didn’t sit well with him. He considered wholeness over separation – that we have to take care of the whole. In this case the whole earth organism. He said each of us is a co-producer and that the observer is the observed; we are interdependent – we are inextricably related to everything; we are subjects not objects (which is a Thomas Berry concept); we are enfolded in the universe;  overcoming fragmentation needs to be one of our primary human goals; a vision for human society must look beyond the immediate constraints of our particular specialisation. Wholeness and being comfortable with the notion that we can’t fully appreciate let alone understand all there is to know.  The whole is so much larger than our limited understanding, regardless of how complete we believe it is.

For an overview of his work click on this linkDavid Bohm and this next link to watch the filmThe Life and Ideas of David Bohm

Secondly, economist John Perkins, who profiles what he calls the Death Economy and then provides what would constitute a Life Economy.

A couple of years ago we flagged that we would expand our conversations about the word death to be more inclusive of the interpretations of the word.  We need to factor into our discussions, other takes on death related issues, ones that might have deadly consequences for our health and wellbeing  This acknowledges that there are many issues that impact on our quality of life.  Being immersed in the money-go-round with so much emphasis given to economics, it is unwise, therefore, to overlook this aspect of our society, since the economy is now our primary focus rather than the society that invented it and the ecology that sustains it.

Read the story from Yes magazine (September 16, 2020) hereTransforming the death economy to the life economy

In this TEDx talk, Perkins notes that democracy only works when there is transparency, honesty. He outlines three things we can do: 1. Look for the story behind the story – that we question our leaders, what we are told so as to verify the content. Shine a light on them when they don’t live up to the rhetoric; 2. Be part of an organisation that is involved in how our laws and policies are framed such that these work in the best interests of the majority of people; 3. Help corporations understand that they must work to serve the public interest – it’s in their interest to do this.

John Perkins  is the author of 10 books, including Touching the JaguarShapeshifting, and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 70 weeks and published in 37 languages. As an economist, he advised the World Bank, United Nations, Fortune 500 corporations, U.S. and other governments. He has lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and other universities, is a founder of the Pachamama Alliance and Dream Change, and received the Lennon/Ono Peace Prize.

To take the subject a step further and combine the two ideas of physics and economics watch and listen to this TEDx talk with  James B. Glattfelder at TEDxZurich.


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