We will create a society that promotes rather than undermines loving and caring relationships and families.
If we really want to live in such a world,then we need a transformation of our global economic and political arrangements such that they promote love and care. We cannot sustain loving and caring relationships in a world where competition, individualism, and “looking out for number one” are the primary values. Our current system erodes loving and caring relationships – in one’s home, workplace, school, community, and throughout the world. Our New Bottom Line provides the foundation for, and the path to, creating a new economic system that would, in fact, nurture our capacities to be loving and caring.
Every institution or social practice that encourages us to see others as instruments for our own advancement rather than as embodiments of the sacred must be reshaped so that it instead maximizes our capacities to be loving, generous, and caring.
We will resist and offer an alternative to the neo-liberal assault on the economic well-being of middle-income working people; its transfer of wealth to the top 1%; its defunding of the public sphere; its privatization of education, health care, and social services—social services that limit the negative impact of the selfishness and indifference that is the foundation of the capitalist economic system—its dismantling of social support networks, and its defunding of government so that it no longer provides a safety net for those in need.
The Left largely focuses on economic entitlements and political rights, seeing the planet and people through a transactional lens; framing the question in the following way: what can I get from the earth and from others to advance my own interests and need? We believe that we need to build a world that sees the planet and people through a relational lens. That is, one that nurtures our capacity to be loving, caring and generous towards each other and the planet.
We know that many, if not most, on the Left are motivated by these concerns, yet they fail to articulate these values out of fear of sounding “soft” or “flaky.” One example of this is Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential campaign. While he seemed to convey a sense of kindness and caring, his policies boiled down to economic interests and political rights and did not include a vision of a loving and kind world. Rather than separate economics from love, we need a radical economic policy integrated with radical love. In other words, A Caring Society: Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Earth. All policies and programs should arise from that foundation.
To build this foundation, we will support and promote policies that nurture our capacity to create and sustain loving relationships, family connections, and care for the earth. Because we value adequate time for family, joy, reflection, engagement in community, and contribution to the well-being of all on this planet and the planet itself:
- We will work to rebuild our economy to provide economic security, equity, and meaningful work that contributes to some higher good beyond maximizing money or power.
- We will challenge cynical attempts to reduce life to self-interest, economic interests, and power over others.
- We will oppose the exploitation of sexuality that regularly occurs in advertising and mass media.
- We will insist on a reduced workweek of 30 hours per week, a living wage (not just a minimum wage), a guaranteed income for all, and free childcare and elder care.
- We will create a public banking system that supports those in need and provides funding for socially and environmentally valuable projects.
- We will replace the Federal Reserve with a system that governs the production and distribution of money that serves the public interest rather than the richest individuals and corporations.
- We will replace the economic ethos of growth with an ethos of sustainability and inner emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth.
- We will promote significant income taxes on those with annual incomes of over two million and a wealth tax on wealth in excess of twelve million per person or twenty million per family, as well as a fundamental progressive tax plan.
- We seek to foster a spiritual life and deepen community connections so that people have a sense of belonging, community, meaning and purpose and can relieve themselves of their addiction to consumerism to drown their loneliness and alienation.
- We support the promotion of sabbaticals and lengthy vacations to enable individuals and families to have the time they need to nourish their spiritual and emotional selves, deepen connection, and contribute to their community and society.
Our spiritual focus goes beyond the normal liberal list of demands of economic entitlements (grounded in transactions) to insist on a fundamental change in the values that our society promotes (grounded in relationships). We believe that our society must be oriented around love. We resist those forces within our society that foster the qualities that make love more difficult to sustain—cynicism, harshness, individualism, self-centeredness, fear, and disconnection from life’s meaning and the possibility of transformation—and instead promote institutions, workplaces, schools, social programs, and systems that nurture our capacities for connection, mutual recognition, love, care, and generosity.
To achieve this goal, we urge people in every corporation, government institution, and school to develop a concrete plan for how they would run that institution if they had the power to recreate it in accord with these values. In envisioning these changes, we refuse to scale down our aspirations to what the current political circumstances seem to make possible. Instead we seek to imagine the kind of world we want to live and work in because we know that doing so makes us more effective in struggling to achieve it.
However, the actual changes we seek on a societal level cannot adequately be achieved one institution at a time because of the interdependence of the global marketplace. We need a fundamental transformation of our economic and political lives, and that will only happen when a mass movement emerges that is not only clear in its demands for democracy and for dramatic reduction of inequality, but is equally clear in its commitment to building a world based on love and generosity, environmental sensitivity, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe.
Imagine, for example, a workplace that chooses its leadership on their ability to treat their employees with care, kindness and respect; one in which employees cooperate with each other, show respect and care for their actual and potential customers, come up with ideas that enhance the capacity of that enterprise to serve the common good and repair the environment, to sponsor public programs and media that validate kindness and generosity, and to actively promote participation in democratic decision-making on all aspects of how that enterprise operates in the world. Imagine also such an institution giving a few hours every week to each employee to dedicate to his or her own inner spiritual development without imposing any particular path. This is an example of what it might look like to take our New Bottom Line seriously in the work world.
Imagine a political system in which decisions in Congress or in other parts of government are based in part on which policies would foster the greatest amount of nonviolence, replace domination-driven relationships with cooperative ones, promote the well-being of everyone on the planet equally (not just the well-being of one’s own country), and you get some sense of how different political life could look.
And when people are spending all day in work worlds that promote these kind of caring values, they will bring them home into family life and personal relationships, replacing the individualism, selfishness, and dog-eat-dog mentality that tends to be brought home daily from work environments shaped by the values of the competitive marketplace, which often weaken and even destroy families, caring friendships, and loving relationships.
As stated above, to live in a world that promotes love and care, we need a fundamental transformation of our economic and political lives. We believe that will only happen when a mass movement emerges that is not only clear in its commitment to a world based on love and generosity, environmental sanity, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe but that also embodies those values within the movement itself.
CONTRAST: LIBERAL AGENDA — The Left largely poses family support in terms of economic entitlements and political rights. They seeks to restore the economic safety net so no one falls too low but do not embrace radical redistribution efforts, or they focus on efforts to “level the playing field.” Yet family struggles and breakdown are not confined to those lacking economic supports. Rather than put forth a vision of a loving, just, kind and caring world as values to strive for (not merely in economic terms but also in the way we actually treat one another in our economic interactions and arrangements), the liberal platform argues that economic entitlements are a way to solve family issues, and that leveling the playing field will provide equal opportunities without requiring a massive overhaul of our economic and social structures. But in fact, what we need to acknowledge and address is people’s sense of alienation and loneliness and fear about the further erosion of loving commitments they currently have, and the resulting feelings of loneliness that would thus arise. We agree with the economic supports proposed by most liberals: we see them as necessary but not sufficient. Policies need to also address the spiritual and psychological needs of people.
Spiritual progressives, in contrast, do not believe that competition for scarce resources is the right model for building a loving society. We want a society and economy that produces solidarity and caring rather than competitiveness and domination. We seek to establish an understanding, reflected in both income and wealth, that everyone that does socially necessary work (such as, physicians, teachers, computer technicians, scientists, childcare workers, garbage collectors, agricultural workers, artists, etc.) deserve the same societal support and financial rewards for the same amount of time expended at work (though we will need to publicly fund those professions that require years of schooling to obtain the expertise needed to do those jobs). We recognize the inherent value of all regardless of the particular job or “status” they hold in society.
CONTRAST: CONSERVATIVE AGENDA — Conservatives promote their authoritarian “family values” agenda out of a belief that they will strengthen families. Within conservative ideology, family support often means restricting the rights of gays and lesbians to marry (as though that had anything to do with why families break up), teaching women to be subordinate to men in family life, and opposing abortion (but giving little support to the child when it is born). They also promote the idea that families should be embedded in ‘religious’ communities. Progressives could recuperate the positive potential of this last idea by fostering “communities of joy and empathic caring” (be they secular, religious or spiritual) that are free of right-wing ideology.