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Jonathan Granoff

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The Human Capacity for Creativity and Destruction: How Will It All Play Out?

Posted: 10/18/10 07:44 AM ET

The natural world has value independent of the markets of man, and we ignore this fact at our peril.

Corporations and states can no longer operate as if they are independent of the natural world. Nature will not bend beyond limits to fulfill corporate growth. Corporations, states and individuals must conform to the dictates of nature. Isn't it time we developed a bit of humility? Without the billions of ants, the human community cannot survive. Yet without humans, ants will do just fine. An accurate perspective could do us all well.

The extension of human will over the natural world through science, technology and social organization has amplified human will's capacity for creativity and destruction. The main actors in expressing these two dynamics are limited liability de jure entities, mainly corporations and states. Both organizational forms, as distinct from individual human beings, lack conscience. One form pursues wealth and the other power.

A duty of any state is to protect its citizens. Without entering into universal regimes to protect the global commons, the living systems upon which all civilization depends such as the rain forests, the climate, and the oceans, states cannot fulfill this basic function. Sovereignty can never be diminished by fulfilling this duty. In fact, only by entering into universal regimes can sovereignty be fulfilled today. Thus universal norms and values based on principles of harmony with nature, identification of shared interests in peace amongst states, and the rule of law are urgently needed. Based on such values cooperation must supplant the pursuit of domination as a means of obtaining security.

States must work together to address three critical challenges: making sure that the interdependence of financial markets that affect Wall Street and Main Street, often causing many to live on No Street, become just, equitable, stable and sustainable; protecting the global commons; and eliminating nuclear weapons. All these require a shared sense of urgency and responsibility. Every state should promptly establish an office for the specific fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals and should establish a regular reporting system on the progress of each state's plan to fulfill their MDG duties.

The duty of limited liability de jure business entities is to provide goods and services. Capital is a means to that end, not an end in itself. Capital must be protected as other property rights, but not in derogation of adverse impacts on the rights of individual living people and living biological systems that have existential value beyond the market.

Life itself must be understood as sacred and revered. Bio systems are valuable beyond mere market evaluations. Thus, a new bottom line must be established that incorporates the well-being of the environment and people as part of the social bargain of functioning as a limited liability entity.

These simple, powerful ideas can change the expression of distorted values to a new healing dynamic. An example, a recent article in Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, stated that for about $5 billion a year, the lives of six million children who will expire due to preventable diseases could be saved. Is the money available for such a venture? Compare the dearth to prevent death with the expenditures of over $1.5 trillion for militaries that commerce in the pursuit of security by threatening death.

We have in our hands the choice of further destruction or creativity.

How money is spent reveals our hearts.

 
 
 

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