A Compassionate and Holistic Economy, Where Local Is Global

What if we swap minimum wage with minimum existence? The essence should be a good and beautiful life. For people and for planet.

The Dalai Lama was invited by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) to discuss human happiness, economics and the moral core of free enterprise. In the media, the AEI is described as a conservative or a right-wing think tank. The Dalai Lama, with other invited speakers, was at the AEI for about three hours to talk on this important subject. In (social) media the following sentiment ruled the days after this visit:

"I developed more respect about capitalism."

It was a polite gesture by the Dalai Lama to his host, the AEI, and not a political statement. And "more" is of course relative to how much respect one had for something to begin with. I believe that the Dalai Lama would like to see an economy that is compassionate and holistic. Would you interpret the following words of the Dalai Lama at HuffPost Live differently? Let me know what you think in the comment box below.

This is not just a problem of Sardinia; it is not just a problem of Italy or of some countries in Europe. It is the consequence of a global choice, an economic system which leads to this tragedy; an economic system which has at its centre an idol called money.

The organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in May of 2011 launched the Better Life Index. According to the OECD, there's more to life than cold numbers of GDP and economics. When Bhutan many years ago came with the instrument of Gross National Happiness and started to focus their policies more around that, I thought that it was fun news, but I didn't take it seriously. That has changed. Not only for me, but mind you also for the OECD. And not only the OECD. The B-Team, which was co-founded by Sir Richard Branson, is a not-for-profit initiative that has been formed by a group of global business leaders to create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit. The founders of the B-team have declared this:

We, the undersigned, believe that the world is at a critical crossroads. Global-business leaders need to come together to advance the wellbeing of people and the planet. In fact, we think business has to think this way in order to thrive.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and two of her co-authors wrote the following:

We are now at a tipping point that threatens to flip the world into a full-blown climate emergency. As the poorest and most vulnerable people of the world endure the increasingly damaging impacts of a warming world, tired excuses and calls to delay action are no longer acceptable.

Economics aside, this is a moral and ethical challenge of the highest order. If ministers leave the UN climate talks in Warsaw this week without a clearly defined roadmap to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world economy, our window of opportunity will become smaller yet again.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if in the near future Mary Robinson and Sir Richard Branson would visit the American Enterprise Institute to discuss what a sustainable economy should accomplish for a sustainable life for all people and whole planet? A previous dialogue on this matter, which I found terrifically good, was hosted by the Center For Investigating Healthy Minds and was titled, "Change Your Mind Change the World." If you want to get inspired, watch it.

Some of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don't matter in today's great debate. Not my words, but the words of Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist. I agree, and I presume my favorite modern philosopher Alain de Botton would also agree with this statement of Kristof. See for example his lecture on the news. The "Change Your Mind Change the World" event proved that it can be done. We just need more of it and on primetime TV.

So, let all of us be very thankful to the American Enterprise Institute and the Dalai Lama for stimulating intellectual debate, whether you agree with their point of view or not. For a democracy to function properly we need a lot of intellectual dialogue. We need to learn from each other to prosper. Let's do that as often as possible. If politics doesn't come to you, you come to politics. As a non-American, as a human being, I am very thankful that someone as Marianne Williamson has decided to run for political office.

Love and Intelligence are on the move, worldwide. Your heart is for sense of direction, your brain will help you get there. One love will get us to higher ground! I am going to conclude with a statement made by philosopher Bertrand Russell which goes as follows:

For love of domination we must substitute equality; for love of victory we must substitute justice; for brutality we must substitute intelligence; for competition we must substitute co-operation. We must learn to think of the human race as one family.