Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Foreword To "Voluntary Theocracy: Divine Economy Theory"

Foreword for Voluntary Theocracy

There is something about the virtues that make them essential for predictable success in whatever human beings undertake. Predictable success is valuable because chance or an underlying order that is unknown to us may be operating as well. This is true whether or not what we are undertaking is a worthy endeavour. We even need the virtues to be predictably successful when engaged in doing the “wrong” thing. Imagine a thief that lacks determination. At the first obstacle the thief would abandon the enterprise. A gang cannot exist without loyalty; any form of betrayal is likely to end its collective nature.
It is not surprising then that virtues are central to the human enterprise. When asked “What is the purpose of our lives?” 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the Founder of the Bahá’i Faith responded, ”To acquire virtues.” What is surprising is that for so long, contemporary economics have relegated virtues to buzz words like “trust in the institutions” and “consumer confidence” without the spiritual basis required to re-establish trust once it is broken or rebuild confidence once it is lost. Bruce Koerber in Part One and Part Two of Voluntary Theocracy places the virtues where they belong: at the heart of all of our interactions.
If this had been all that he did, his work would be commendable and worthy of our attention. However, Bruce Koerber has done much more. In Part Three and Part Four of Voluntary Theocracy he lays out the principles underlying what he refers to as the Divine Economy. For all Religious traditions it has been central to our purpose here, to come to know and love the Divine Order and the One who created it. "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details.", (attributed to Albert Einstein), is an acknowledgement that there is an underlying order in the world in which we live. It is the goal of science to uncover that order and to make it accessible and understandable. It is in that spirit that Bruce Koerber’s Divine Economy is an unfolding scientific endeavour.
Not only is there an underlying order within creation but also a goal, a directionto carry forward an ever advancing civilization. Each created being has a part to play in that unfolding plan. Each human being is born into potential with that potential, when realized, enabling us to play a unique part in a Divine Plan encompassing all humanity. As we play our parts, each of us is meant to benefit ourselves and those we interact with: sounds a lot like an economy, which it is. As Bruce Koerber aptly points out in Voluntary Theocracy, being productive benefits not just ourselves but also that increased productivity benefits us all.
It is the spiritual purpose of society to create cultures and systems (education, markets, etc.) that allow each and every one of us to discover our unique parts in that Divine Plan; develop the potentials that enable us to play our parts; and provide for the opportunities that allow each to make a unique contribution to the whole and be acknowledged for doing so. This would be a challenge for any society. This challenge is made more difficult if we ignore the signs and fail to read clearly the spirit of the Age in which we live.
Because of the underlying unity of the human enterprise we err if we artificially separate any part from the whole. We make this error if we separate people into classes, races, tribes, nations or any other artificial division. If we treat the cultural, educational or economic systems as separate entities governed by different principles we make such a mistake. Because of humanity’s spiritual nature, when we treat religion as unimportant or fail to integrate its guidance, we make another mistake. When we separate Religion from Science we make a similar error. Rare for a scientist, Bruce Koerber recognizes the unity of the human enterprise and avoids these mistakes.
Even rarer is Bruce Koerber’s realization that the greatest of our potentials, our birthright and greatest asset is our potential to acquire the Divine Virtues and Spiritual Qualities. As we develop our potentials we develop the Virtues. As we play our respective parts in the Divine Plan and participate in the Divine Economy that is its result we are given opportunities to further develop the Virtues. As we act on the Virtues we have developed we will carry forward the Divine Plan for the benefit of all creation.
As Lao Tzu so eloquently said in the Tao Te Ching {The Canon of Reason and Virtue}:
“Tao when nursed within one's self,
His vigour will make true;
And where the family it rules
What riches will accrue!
The neighbourhood where it prevails
In thriving will abound;
And when 'tis seen throughout the state, Good fortune will be found.
Employ it the kingdom o'er,
And men thrive all around.”

Dan Popov, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, The Virtues Project™

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