Lately, it’s felt a little like the world is going to “hell in a hand basket”…as they say. It seems every day some new threat, hate speech or division is driving us closer and closer to the brink of self-annihilation, be it through war, global catastrophe or rising inequality. In many ways I have lost hope for humanity to change…
BUT, I have found a NEW HOPE in Muhammad Yunnus’ book “A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment and Zero Net Carbon Emissions.” Except it’s not new. The new economic system Yunnus posits, where capitalism is no longer the sole option and where the “winners” of the free market no longer holds absolute power, has been around for A LONG TIME! Like at least since Grameen Bank was founded in 1983….so just about as many years as I have been alive.
Yunnus believes humanity’s sole economic purpose in life is not to enrich themselves. Novel right? He argues that our economic impulses include this but are not limited to it as evidenced by the enormous amount of people who go into professions which will never allow them to accumulate wealth (think pastor, teacher, caregiver). Yunnus argues that humanity is just as economically motivated by caring for our neighbors, the earth and the future as we are by accumulating individual wealth and sometimes even more so.
Reading this book has made two things abundantly clear:
- I know NOTHING about economics! Seriously, like nothing and it has made me realize that I have drunk the Kool-aid, believing the free market is the great equalizer and that capitalism is the least evil of all available economic systems…and…
- Just because things aren’t changing in the United States (at least not where I see them) doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t taking the bull by the horns and making huge strides to save humanity and the planet from itself.
You know how at the end of the movie “Independence Day” when the heroes finally figure out how to stop the alien invasion and they send morse code all over the world and all the other countries are like, “well finally! Took the Americans long enough!” as though there is no one in those countries trying anything? Yeah, that American exceptionalism runs deep my friends, it runs deep…even in me. This was where I was in regards to economic reform prior to reading this book. I am grateful for Yunnus for reminding me that much of the world is legitimately working on solving the serious problems facing humanity today, even though I might see, hear or know about any of it.
And for those of you of the Christian persuasion, this has reminded me once again of how our God works…it’s through the weak, the unlikely, the small and insignificant. Yunnus tells story after story of entrepreneurs from tiny villages in remote locations (perhaps something like Nazareth…John 1:46) who are making a difference, who are opening up social businesses with the help of micro-loans and effecting huge change for their families and communities, building equitable wealth and opportunity for all. From my place of faith I see our God of the outcast, forgotten, poor and disenfranchised working right there, to bring about God’s kingdom on earth. I am so grateful to Yunnus for providing me a book of evidence of God’s work in the world.
I’m not done yet and there is so much here I want to talk about, so you can expect at least one more post ;). Till then…happy reading!