At its root, economics is about properly and sustainably managing a household. Or, more poetically, about taking care of our home. This is not news to anyone of course, but perhaps what has gone relatively unexamined is what we mean by home, and how our understanding of this concept ought to feed into economics.
Various thinkers observe an expansion of humanity’s sense of home from Hearth to Earth. While I suspect the spiritual journeys in trance of hunter gatherers and other so-called uncivilized folk were cosmic in scope, generally speaking this observation is a valid one. Further, while it is true that as our home grows to become an entire planet some see as a living being, it shrinks too as distance is bested by the speed of technological development. As this brings us together, cultural differences are exposed, and our inability to talk and listen to each other across cultural divides fuels tensions that too often precede war. Ironically, though different cultures may all see the entire planet as our home, though it is clear to us all that if we fail to live with our home wisely we will perish, this shared wisdom is insufficient to foster cooperation of sufficient breadth and depth. This problem is evident both across and within borders, even within families.
Perhaps the reason for this is that we have, as a thinking species, not sufficiently understood what home is about, or not allowed space for what we know in our institutions.
Home is not about glory, glamour and fame, it is not size and ostentation, it is not competitive advantage securing conspicuous prosperity for you and those you favour. Home is love. Love of life, of others, of planet, of self, not as vanity, not as narcissism, but with humility, courage, creativity, generosity of spirit, wisdom and faith. Were home truly about the former, truly about vanity and ostentation, it would generate dysfunctional families, discord, an insatiable emptiness in the soul, a feeling of non-belonging, a constant hunger to consume anything and everything that distracts to keep the pain of that emptiness at bay. Such a state of being is not home, nor can it arise from home; it is a spiritual and psychological diaspora of isolated individuals. Civilisation has generated an ‘economics’ of perpetual and atomised diaspora. In other words, economics is not economics; it is a conceptual construct that perpetuates homelessness in pursuit of more and more numbers and total control of nature. Orthodox ‘economics’destroys home.
If we experience this as a problem, what we can sure of is that a way out will not be found in more of the same. I have come to connect love with economics. I have come to see that love must be foundational to our thinking and doing if we are to create an economics worthy of the name.