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InternationalAn economy for peace

An economy for peace

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By Martin Hoegger. www.hoegger.org

We hear every day about the war economy. Is this inevitable? Can we reverse things and talk about an economy of peace? This is the question that a round table asked during an interreligious conference organized by the Focolare Movement in the Roman Hills.

First guest speaker, Luigino Bruni, professor at LUMSA University (Rome) explains the ambivalence of the relationship between economy and peace. The first writings that we know are accounting documents. Exchanging things means we do not have to steal them or go to war to get them. Commerce has always been an opportunity for meetings. Let us think of Venice and Constantinople: merchants meet! Where we work, we exchange better.

Economy and peace have a complex relationship throughout history

Montesquieu developed the thesis of gentle commerce”, according to which the spread of commerce between people improves morals, making actions less violent and more predictable, energies directed towards peaceful goals and manners politer. Another thesis, that of A. Genovesi, argues, on the other hand, that trade is the great source of war. Man is jealous, and jealousy arms men.

The spirit of commerce is bad when it becomes belligerent. L. Bruni deplores the bellicose language learned by economics students. For him the fundamental law of economics is not selfishness or altruism, but reciprocity and encounter. They alone build peace. The economy has a vocation for communion.

Women and peace

In the Bible, there is a specific trait of women’s wisdom. It manifests itself in different ways: in Abigail who manages to avoid David’s war against her clumsy husband; at Naomi who teaches her daughter-in-law Ruth how to conquer her future husband Boaz; or even with the wise mother of Tekoa (2 Samuel 14.5-7) who convinces David to repeat the “sign of Cain” on her fratricidal son and thus to save him.

The Bible often shows us the different intelligence of women, characterized by a special intuition for the care of relationships and life that comes before reasons, interests, power and religion.

Olive Schreiner wrote this remarkable text: “It will not be through cowardice or incapacity, nor certainly through superior virtue, that woman will put an end to war, when her voice can be heard in the government of the States; but because on this point the science of woman, as woman, is superior to that of man: she knows the history of human flesh: she knows its price: man does not know it. In a besieged city, it easily happens that the people tear down precious statues and sculptures from galleries and public buildings to make barricades, throwing them to fill the gaps, without thinking, because they present themselves first by hand, without paying any more attention than if it were stones on the sidewalk.

But there is only one man who could not do that: the sculptor. Even if these works of art are not by his hands, he knows their value. Instinctively, he would sacrifice all the furniture in his house, the gold, the silver, everything that exists in the cities before throwing the works of art into destruction.

But the man’s body is the work of art created by the woman. Give her the power to control and she will never throw it away to fill the chasms carved out in human relationships by ambitions and intolerance.”

It all starts with inner peace

The Hindu Priya Vaidya, from the University of Mumbai, refers to Gandhi, for whom international peace can only exist if there is national peace. Which can only begin with inner peace. We must therefore change ourselves by developing spiritual life and clarity of thought.

It is essential to look inside yourself. The goal of every religion is the same; the difference is in the method and the language. Their first message is “peace be with you”! Ghandi emphasized ethical living and the practice of non-violence.

In conclusion, she reads a poem that she has just written inviting us to “remain in silence at least once a day”.

“The baraka”

Mohammad Shomali , founder of the Institute of Islamic Studies, is a prominent figure in interreligious dialogue. Represented by one of his colleagues, he brings a Muslim perspective. According to the Quran, peace is an ideal for this world and the hereafter. It is a name of God. It is not by chance that we greet each other with “Salam”.

But the devil, Satan, is the enemy of peace according to the Koran (Surah 2,208). We must not follow him, because it provokes conflicts to suppress inner peace and divide us. God, on the other hand, makes us brothers and sisters. If we follow His Word, we will be able to achieve peace.

Concerning the economy, it must never be left to its own devices. It becomes dangerous if this is the case. Greed and the search for power are the root of all evil. In itself, money is neutral, but attachment to it and the desire for wealth are problematic.

Paradoxically, Shomali develops the idea that the main beneficiary of charity is not the one who receives, but the one who gives. Economic activities build peace if we live them in God. “Baraka” – blessing – means that certain places, businesses and activities are blessed if they are done with prayer, justice and dignity. It brings peace to all, leads to trust, serenity, support and forgiveness. “God is grateful to people who introduce ethics and spirituality into the economy,” he concludes

Seeds of hope

Fabio Petito, professor at the University of Sussex and the Institute of International Policy Studies (ISPI), believes that the “Sustainable Development Goals” are jeopardized by transgressions of multilateral law. Unfortunately, religions seem to favour them. These are seen as part of the problem.

However, seeds of hope grow through interfaith solidarity. Leaders seek to respond collectively to violence. The document on the “Human Fraternity” of Abu Dhabi bears witness to this. If we are all brothers and sisters in God, then we all need recognition and respect and to participate equally in public life.

Therefore, interreligious dialogue must move from theology to practical collaboration. It is a most promising place for collaboration. Especially for young people and women. So religions can be part of the solution, not the problem.

In this room,” he said, addressing the assembly, “you are seeds of hope for this new global solidarity, through a new style of life. You are the vanguard, a little light that can change the face of the earth. We need your creativity to fulfill Chiara Lubich’s prophecy”

Other articles on this conference: https://www.hoegger.org/article/one-human-family/

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