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Issue 265
March/April 2011
Intrinsic Values

Welcome

Our Core Values
by
Rowan with Gorse, painting by Rose Anderson

Rowan with Gorse, painting by Rose Anderson

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Our Core Values

Resurgence has always been about our deepest values and in this, our 45th anniversary year, the subject of those values is our particular focus.

In this issue, the outspoken environmentalist George Monbiot highlights the critical difference between intrinsic and extrinsic values and suggests that for the genuine wellbeing of both people and planet Earth, we need to live by our intrinsic values. This then is the special theme running through most of the thought-provoking articles in our spring issue.

For example, poet, playwright and former president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel (one of the most outstanding holistic thinkers and writers of our time) urges urban planners to work with the values of place, community, neighbourhood and Nature when they are designing our cities and towns.

Another poet and philosopher, Archbishop Rowan Williams, shows that we need to put ethics before economics, and when governments and business leaders are obsessed with economic growth at any cost, his message of moral economy becomes even more pertinent.

In his article, fellow Christian Peter Owen Jones, radical vicar and presenter of several BBC documentaries on pilgrimages, expounds the values of home and hospitality, a refreshing point of view at a time when most countries are blindly pursuing the path of tourism.

And last but not least in this series of articles on intrinsic values, Prince Charles, in his broad-ranging keynote essay, elucidates the paramount importance of ecology. Although the context of his article is Islam, respect for the environment and care for the Earth are values at the core of all religions and wisdom traditions. And he is right: the solution to the current environmental crisis is to restore the wisdom of restraint, respect and reverence for all life.

The mainstream world of politics, commerce and media might suggest that any talk of values and ideals is meaningless when we have to live in the real world, but my response is that the world of politics and economics has been run by the realists for a long time, but what have they got to show for it? What have they achieved by being Realists?

In spite of all the progress in science and technology and in spite of unprecedented economic growth over the past 60 years, these Realists have failed to solve the fundamental problems of malnutrition, hunger and war. Under their watch, humanity continues to spend a vast amount of resources on either weapons of destruction or luxuries that bring natural devastation, whilst huge numbers of men, women and children suffer from deprivation and disease. Rising population, dwindling natural resources, and the threat of global climate change are all the result of resting power in the hands of the Realists, whose legacy includes entire countries in debt while their banks are bailed out by the taxpayers.

The Realists have been given ample chance to bring peace and happiness to humankind but they have utterly failed.

So in these circumstances let us give the Idealists a chance.

Humanity will be far better served by the intrinsic values of hospitality, humility and harmony than by the extrinsic values of success, speed and greedy self-interest.

Satish Kumar is Editor-in-Chief at Resurgence.

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