The Real Wealth of Nations

With Monday’s inauguration of Barack Obama for a second term falling on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us consider for a few moments what truly makes a nation great. I would suggest that it is not our GNP, our GDP, how high the Dow Jones Industrials have risen, or any of the other economic indicators of growth, but how kind we are to the least fortunate amongst us. Riane Eisler, a feminist historian, author of “The Real Wealth of Nations”, brings into focus the critical importance of recreating the economic models in order to create a truly sustainable future for all.

As an undergraduate, I was disenchanted with modern economics with its attempts to place fixed valuations on the natural world. How can you bar code Nature without losing awareness of its spiritual beauty? How can we put a price tag on a healthy eco-system? The fate of the human species is intimately intertwined with the health of the biosphere and leading scientists increasingly inform us that we are pushing against the limits of our life support system.

When the cost of economic development is considered, does the methodology which informs the economic policy making decision makers honestly accept that there are indeed physical limits on a finite planet, or do they instead ignore the long-term health consequences of pollution, toxicity, climate change, human and animal displacement and the widespread suffering it brings?

When so much of our traditional capitalist economy is built upon resource extraction (especially oil) and consequent exploitation of foreign nations, do the millions of young soldiers who lose their lives, or are maimed, affect the calculations of the wealthy captains of industry?

When competition is heavily conditioned into us beginning an early age – athletic competition, social competition for status and wealth, and economic and military competition amongst nations – do we forget that cooperation and maternal love (from both our human mothers and our common Earth mother) is the true basis of life.

What is wealth? Most people habitually orient their pursuit of wealth in materialistic terms – more money, bigger salary, better things, fancier gadgets, exotic vacations. But is this true wealth if it is not sustainable? Will the children of even those families with immense bank accounts feel wealthy when even their sheltered enclaves are besieged with a failing planetary life support system? Living behind their fortress walls in artificial techno-bubbles, surrounded by a harsh wasteland – that is not life, but survival.

Indeed the current system within modern finance which places undue emphasis on quarterly earnings reports in corporate America, without looking at long-term consequences of actions, totally distorts the cost-benefit equation. The American economy slavishly feeds on the dominator myth of making a quick buck. This is the false myth at the center of the current dying culture – that there are winners and losers. Everyone eventually loses when one player tries to hoard all the marbles.

Eisler identifies the need to adopt a new economic story based upon partnerships instead of domination. A few key points in her assessment on how to transform the unsustainable economics of the past to a sustainable economics for the future:

Honor the work of women equally, especially regarding the most critical job of all, raising healthy children consciously. Adopt policies at all levels of society which value caring and caregiving, and which support human development, creativity and concern for future generations. Tie the development of technology to the ethics of caring. Exclude from economic measurements of productivity, those activities which harm people and nature and include essential non-market life-supporting activities.

Making these changes require that we begin the long process of rooting out worn out cultural stories that no longer serve our collective good. Most of us are able to look around and see the negative consequences of these outmoded beliefs, but discerning their deeper patterns requires reflection and cultivation of wisdom.

As always, we must start with ourselves. Acupuncture can help us align with truth and harmony and awaken the wisdom that is desperately needed in our world today. CommuniChi Acupuncture Clinic is here to serve the collective good and your mind-body-spiritual health. Make an Appointment.

[This blog originally posted Nov. 6, 2007, edited Jan. 20, 2013]


Scroll to Top