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Beyond Power and Wealth

Posted: 0000-00-00 00:00:00

Jennifer Baker and her children pass the hammer

Submitted to energizeinc.org by Rob Jackson, Officer (Regional Fundraising) Royal National Institute for the Blind, England
I recently came across this from a speech given by Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UK, and I thought others might find it interesting and inspiring.
“Imagine that you have total power, and you decide to share it with nine other people. How much do you have left? One tenth of what you began with.”
“Imagine you have a sum of money, and you decide to share it with nine other people. How much do you have left? One tenth of what you began with.”
“Now suppose you have a certain amount of love or friendship or influence or ideals and you decide to share those with nine other people, and you do share them, do you have more or less than you began with? You probably have ten times as much.”

“It follows immediately from this little exercise in arithmetic that power and wealth will always generate conflict. The more of them I have, the less of them you have, and the more I give you, the less I have. Therefore governments and markets are mediated arenas of conflict: the one mediated by democratic elections, the other mediated by market and exchange. But those other covenantal areas of love, friendship, trust, marriage, loyalty, faithfulness, they are not arenas of conflict. And now we can say what is created and distributed in our houses of worship, and in communities, neighbourhoods, voluntary organisations, above all in the family: namely, spiritual goods.”
“And now we can also say precisely what has gone wrong in our social ecology in the past 50 years. We made a simple, well-intentioned assumption. But a wrong one. Namely, that there are only two institutions that can deal with social problems, either the state or the market. Some on the left prefer the state, some on the
right prefer the market, but on the most fundamental point they both agree, and they are both wrong, namely that the state and market are all there is.”
“So what else is there? To which the answer is, there are families, congregations, faith communities, fellowships, neighbourhoods, voluntary organisations - all of which are bigger than the individual, but smaller than the state. They operate on a different logic.”
“Families and communities are held together not by the coercive use of power, not by the contractual mechanisms of exchange, but by love, loyalty, faithfulness and mutuality: being there for one another when we need one another. I call them "third-sector" institutions. And without that third sector, there will be problems that neither
governments nor markets can solve.”