David Cameron aims to make happiness the new GDP
- Kamran Mofid, PhD
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A Reflection by Kamran Mofid
There is a lot going on in the UK and the rest of the world and in particular in Canada and France, amongst others, which I strongly believe is very relevant to all the good things that we are all involved with, including the value-based economics/business education and globalisation for the common good, for example. The headline in today’s Guardian (14 November 2010) is all about how the new coalition Government in Britain is aiming to make happiness and well-being a major part of how the “New” GDP should be measured. I hope they mean what they say. Sometimes, given the record of politicians of all parties, it is so difficult to believe them.
I am, nonetheless, very excited about all these. At least they are talking sense for a change! I like what I am hearing. I was amongst a number of economists whom many years ago, well before it became fashionable to say so, began to write and speak about this. It was very costly to me, professionally and personally. I said what I said, at the height of Thatcherism, Reaganism and the dreaded Washington Consensus. However, now I am humbled by the turn of events. Who said there is no justice in this world!
Below I have provided you with a sample of what I wrote and said all those years ago, as well as the links to the articles in the Guardian. They speak for themselves. This is a golden opportunity for us all to come together for the common good. Let us explore and see how our collective wisdom, work, experience and know- how can be utilised, so that indeed the politicians will carry out what they say they wish to do. We, together, must ensure words will be translated into actions. We must ensure that this is not only a gimmick, indexing and measuring! We know that great thinkers and sages throughout the ages have all reminded us that measuring happiness and well-being is always more than just a box-ticking exercise.
They must be encouraged to see the bigger pictures of life by asking the deeper questions that rarely find their way into political debate or public discourse. The questions that are deeply spiritual: What is the source of true happiness and well-being? What is the good life? What is the purpose of economic life? What is true affluence? What is genuine wealth? Does money hold the secret to having a happy life? Should money be a means to an end or the goal itself? Other questions include: What is education? What is knowledge? What does it mean to be a human being living on a spaceship with finite resources? How can we contribute to creating the new civilisation for the common good?
For me, these are some of the most important questions, requiring a great deal of attention, reflection and thoughtfulness. How can one proposes paths of happiness if one does not know who he/she is, where have they come from, where are going to, and what is the purpose of this journey we call life?
In order to heal ourselves, to heal our Mother Earth, to propose solutions to the many and varied global crises we must learn, once again, The Art of Living in a loving and caring World. We cannot begin this journey, without, first and foremost, finding inner-peace and contentment ourselves first. We should acknowledge that a truly genuine and sustainable world is grounded in what is most valuable in life: love, meaningful relationships, family, friendship, freedom, sufficiency, comradeship, volunteerism, altruism, cooperation, kindness, generosity, sympathy and empathy.
On these and please read more on the GCGI website.
What I said all those years ago
“From 1980 onwards, for the next twenty years, I taught economics in universities, enthusiastically demonstrating how economic theories provided answers to problems of all sorts. I got quite carried away by the beauty, the sophisticated elegance of complicated mathematical models and theories. But gradually I started to have an empty feeling.
I began to ask fundamental questions of myself. Why did I never talk to my students about compassion, dignity, comradeship, solidarity, happiness, spirituality – about the meaning of life? We never debated the biggest questions. Who are we? Where have we come from? Where are we going to?
I told them to create wealth, but I did not tell them for what reason. I told them about scarcity and competition, but not about abundance and co-operation. I told them about free trade, but not about fair trade; about GNP – Gross National Product – but not about GNH – Gross National Happiness. I told them about profit maximisation and cost minimisation, about the highest returns to the shareholders, but not about social consciousness, accountability to the community, sustainability and respect for creation and the creator. I did not tell them that, without humanity, economics is a house of cards built on shifting sands.
These conflicts caused me much frustration and alienation, leading to heartache and despair. I needed to rediscover myself and a real- life economics. After a proud twenty-year or so academic career, I became a student all over again. I would study theology and philosophy, disciplines nobody had taught me when I was a student of economics and I did not teach my own students when I became a teacher of economics.
It was at this difficult time that I came to understand that I needed to bring spirituality, compassion, ethics and morality back into economics itself, to make this dismal science once again relevant to and concerned with the common good. It was now that I made the following discoveries:
• Living happily is “the desire of us all, but our minds is blinded to a clear vision of just what it is that makes life happy”. The root of happiness is ethical behaviour, and thus the ancient idea of moral education and cultivation, is essential to ideal of joyfulness”…Read more on the GCGI.info website.
The Guardian articles: