The folly of 'us and them'
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This month sees the British launch of Economy for the Common Good, which promotes a ‘common good balance sheet’, a viable and proven tool already used by almost two thousand businesses across Europe. It is a means of integrating vocation and an ethical ethos into commerce, a sort of self-regulation for the common good.
One of several initiatives emerging that places human values at the heart of the economy, it uses principles (Human dignity, Cooperation and Solidarity, Ecological Sustainability, Social Justice and Democratic Co-determination) rooted in Catholic social thought (or as we like to think of it, Catholic social learning). We hope it gains interest here too (see below about their launch), but to gain real traction it will need to resonate beyond the 'alternative economy' sector, and find favour with mainstream businesses, and in the City. Its tone may make this challenging in the British context, so afflicted by an ‘us and them’ mentality.
Following the election, those of us less concerned with control and more interested in love are positive, because we know that the deep change we are working for is cultural and transcends the tired, polarised ideologies. But tribal attitudes persist, generating mutual contempt, closing down the potential for collaboration and thwarting creativity. This is madly inefficient when a diversity of connections and experience is needed to achieve systems change. The left-right standoff (evident in the churches too) puts off the majority who want to help.
We want to see a new humility, a new cultural consensus, which recognises that those who we disagree with on some (even major) issues may in fact be good people, whose unique contribution is an essential part of the solution. This applies across the political and belief spectrum. It is not only a matter of mutual respect and honouring the dignity of each human person: it is folly to imagine that viable solutions that allow all to flourish can be sustainable without broad participation - they simply will not work in an ‘us and them’ climate. This is about building bridges: between shareholders and employees, business and unions, faith and secular, left and right. We need to practice the common good together across our different traditions and political perspectives: it is our co-creation.
Together for the Common Good latest
The momentum around T4CG is growing remarkably despite extremely limited capacity. This unfolding project is resonating across many sectors, with increasing requests to collaborate and consult. We are building relationships of trust across different traditions and learning as we go. In the coming weeks we will be discerning how to move from a mainly pro bono way of working to something more sustainable and seeking funds; we will also be completing the toolkit for our Common Good Conversation model, creating common good training materials for church leaders and preparing to publish our research findings on collaboration in faith-based social action. You won't find these things on our website as we haven't had time to update it! T4CG is involved in three events coming up, outlined below.
Click the pink links for more information
10 June, 5.30pm: UK launch of Economy for the Common Good with ECG founder and author of Change Everything Christian Felber, including panel discussion with Ed Mayo (Co-operatives UK), Diego Isabel (Economy for the Common Good) and Jenny Sinclair (T4CG). At the Global Governance Institute, UCL, London. Free, open to all. Booking via eventbrite.
Until 13 June: Inigo: we loved this powerful and inspirational play about the countercultural movement of the Jesuits (the Society of Jesus) and Ignatius of Loyola; Pleasance Theatre, London. Booking here.
16 June, 4.45pm - 6.30pm: a debate at the University of Winchester prompted by the T4CG book, Together for the Common Good 'Towards a National Conversation'. Chaired by Bishop Tim Dakin, the event includes three contributors to the book - Prof Andrew Bradstock, Lord (Brian) Griffiths of Fforestfach (VP of Goldman Sachs and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher) and Tehmina Kazi (Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy) - and two 'critical friends' - Dr Dave Landrum (Director of Advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance) and Jenny Sinclair (T4CG). The evening concludes with a drinks reception. Free, all welcome. Booking here.
17 June, 6pm: Cardinal Vincent Nichols gives a lecture Where do we find the generative capacities for hope? at the RSA, London.
27 June, 2pm - 10pm: Together North East Festival, Custom House, South Shields. Designed by people with a learning disability and free, open to all.
29 June - 1 July: Making all things new? Evangelii Gaudium and Ecumenical Mission, St John’s College, Cambridge. This conference seeks to evaluate the significance of Evangelii Gaudium in the life of the Roman Catholic Church today, but also ecumenically. Confirmed speakers for the conference include Prof Tina Beattie; Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta; Prof Massimo Fagglioli; Prof Paul Murray and the Rt Revd Rowan Williams.
11 July, 6.30pm: 'Good investment and the power of the common good’. In partnership with our friends at CCLA, T4CG is presenting a special General Synod fringe dinner debate in York with guest speakers Lord Maurice Glasman and Tim Montgomerie, who will discuss the connection between faith, mission, money and markets. Chaired by Malcolm Brown and introduced by Jenny Sinclair. Synod members only. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org by 19 June.
14 - 16 July: BIAPT Practical Theology and the Common Good The British and Irish Association for Practical Theology annual conference at Cardiff University. Keynote speakers: Prof Tim Gorringe, Prof Christopher Rowland, Jonathan Cox and Prof Elaine Graham.
17 - 19 July: The Things that make for Peace The 37th annual National Justice and Peace Network conference, Swanwick. Includes workshops.
28 - 31 August: Greenbelt ‘The Bright Field’, Kettering.
5 November: Money Matters The Church Urban Fund annual conference on financial exclusion, Manchester. Keynote speakers: Sir Hector Sants, Prof Karen Rowlingson and Canon Dr Angus Ritchie.
For a sound analysis of what has happened to our culture and economy, read ‘Breaking the Faustian Pact’ a powerful article by John Milbank on the bad practice of capitalism - the abandonment of the common good.
On 18 June Pope Francis will publish the long-awaited encyclical on climate change, reported to be titled ‘Be Praised: On the care of our common home’. We know many environmental organisations, faith and secular, are ready to build on this game-changing opportunity.
You won’t find a more comprehensive overview about what is being done for financial inclusion - access to affordable finance for families, businesses and communities - than in the Community Investment Coalition newsletter. Also read their report ‘Can innovation in financial services tackle financial exclusion?’
Caring for our Common Good: Minding our Own Business, a report from the Hurtado Jesuit Centre, asks where, in our current context of conflicts around deepening inequality, social need & global divides, are our common interests? Compiled by Patrick Riordan SJ, of Heythrop College.
This new book, Just Mission: Practical Politics for Local Churches by Dr Helen Cameron, Head of Public Affairs for The Salvation Army, 'may be the catalyst to help turn the pursuit of social justice into something that "we", and not just "they", can do'.
When you think of homelessness, you don’t usually think of investment and fund management being a solution. But Resonance is an success story of people of faith applying their business skills to system change. They manage two social impact funds worth over £70m and provide expertise and loan finance to community groups who are undertaking affordable housing projects. When will more Christians extend their ambition to sustainable methods of tackling the housing crisis?
The Blueprint Trust continues to bring back purpose into business by working with the boards of big business to change corporate culture from the inside, introducing a set of principles, values and vocation.
Our dear friend Jean Vanier was awarded the Templeton Prize on 18 May. Click here to see his address to MPs and Peers at the T4CG event in Parliament earlier this year.
Videos from our two public debates are now available online: 600 people attended our Power, Money, Government and Responsibility debate St Paul's Institute with speakers Prof Craig Calhoun, Shami Chakrabarti, Conor Kehoe and Loretta Minghella and 400 came to St Martin's-in-the-Fields for Towards a Politics for the Common Good with parliamentarians Dominic Grieve, David Lammy, Stephen Timms and Alistair Burt, and theologians Anna Rowlands, Sam Wells and Nicholas Sagovsky.
Would you like to be part of the T4CG story? The momentum around T4CG is growing fast and we need to move from a mainly pro bono way of working to something more sustainable. Please pray for us. We need help with fundraising, so if you are in a position to help or support us please get in touch.
We hope you find this newsletter helpful. We're always open to suggestions so don't hesitate to contact us - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
Together for the Common Good
The T4CG book
“This is a remarkable book, and should be read by all those interested in human rights, justice and politics in a secular and multi-cultural society. To work towards the common good is to work for peace.” Jean Vanier
Contributors: Lord Maurice Glasman, Clifford Longley, Lord Brian Griffiths, Dr Jon Wilson, Tehmina Kazi, Dr Jonathan Chaplin, Professor Andrew Bradstock, Dr Anna Rowlands, Professor Esther Reed, Dr Patrick Riordan SJ, Phillip Booth, Sam Burgess and Revd Dr Malcolm Brown. Rather than claiming to have it all sewn up, this book aims to be a conversation opener to inform and inspire a deeper quality of discussion about the common good. More details here...