Tuesday, 15 December 2009

On Surviving and Flourishing

Pope Benedict's 2010 Message for the World Day of Peace is entitled, "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation".

No comments here on the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit (!). However, on another matter, a fascinating article by Craig McLean on the success of Lego, the family-owned toy firm based near Copenhagen, recently appeared under the title 'Play it again'. We sometimes forget that family-owned businesses can get this big - and that big can be beautiful. A lot of lessons can be learned from this story about the creativity and innovation needed to keep a company alive.

The article doesn't talk much about the company ethos, but according to Arie de Geus, author of The Living Company, the only corporations that survive and flourish over a long period of time are those which treat their enterprises as "living work communities" - i.e. humanistically rather than as purely economic machines, valuing human talent above money and capital.

Analogously, perhaps, the Pope writes:
The ecological crisis offers an historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development towards greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth. I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed life-style, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow.
The term "ecology" is quite recent, and is used to refer to a scientific approach that studies the living systems of the planet as an integral whole, interconnected with each other, rather than individual species in isolation. Humanity is taken into account as one more animal species that depends on, but also transforms, the environment around it, but as the Pope points out, human beings are in a special category. Like it or not, we play a central role. What we need is a humanistic ecological vision that "takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations"; that is, our "duties towards the human person" (CV, 51).

[Picture: Wikimedia commons]

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