Peace and Security and Economics – by Eirwen Harbottle

George Paxton has persuaded me to share some thoughts on developing our Gandhi Foundation Trustees’ discussion on monetary reform. I am clearly no academic; merely an ordinary member of the public who has become increasingly angry over the financial mess that is causing so much misery and the injustice of handing on such toxic chaos to the rising generation.

18 months ago, I asked Canon Peter Challen whether he would allow me to attend the weekly meetings of his Global Round Table on Monetary Reform since when I have been listening and learning, grateful for his kind tolerance of my often childish questions.

Now I feel led to share this diagram with GF supporters. It shows how I suggest we might accept the inter-twining of peace and security in which economics is a crucial factor:

Over the past 60 years I have experienced global un-peace stretching from the dying months of the British mandate in Palestine, through WW2 and the violent birth of the Cyprus Republic, subsequent Greek/Turk conflict on that island, world disarmament and (working with my Michael) a reappraisal of the military role in peacekeeping/peacebuilding.

Now I can see with absolute certainty that the popular excuse “Oh, I don’t do economics…” is just a lazy cop-out. It is totally unacceptable because our inaction is threatening the very survival of our peerless planet.

So what to do ? I admire the 3 leading tenets of Jainism: we must recognise the ‘many-sidedness’ of our lives, act with ‘non-possessiveness’ and ‘do no harm’ (ahimsa). Were these not akin to the bedrock of Gandhi’s own thinking ? Would that it might also be that of all our bankers today !

If we are truly seeking financial ‘perestroika’, we have to educate ourselves on the history of money; the ethics of usury; the psychology of taking risks with no thought to the consequences of so doing; the rule of law to curb injustice; and ultimately to see all of this as the ‘many-sidedness’ of global wellbeing.

In his day, Buckminster Fuller often used the icosahedron 20-sided symbol to demonstrate wholeness. Perhaps we might use the same design now to present a Gandhian view of security and peace?

Eirwen Harbottle is a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation and a founder of Peace Child International. She received the first GF International Peace Award on behalf of her late husband Brigadier Michael Harbottle who founded Generals for Peace.

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Categories: 4. GF Friends, Gandhian Economics


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