When I began reading this book my first thought was Genesis 1:26b “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
The definition of dominion according to Webster is “Sovereign or supreme authority; the power of governing and controlling; independent right of possession, use, and control; sovereignty; supremacy.”
When one has dominion over something he rules and controls it. However, it goes a bit farther than most will admit. To rule or control something is to take care of it, to keep it safe, to meet its needs.
Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver look at the problem of Global Warming and the root cause which is our economy. The economy should not be controlling the earth. They use the phrase “Tread lightly on the Earth.” They also ask 5 questions and discuss the answer.
What’s the economy for?
“The economy is part of the earth system and it has to be respectful of and obey the rules.” The concept of the authors reminds me of a cooperative. People work together to the benefit of all. They do not under cut each other’s price. The goal is not to get extremely wealthy but to “provide rich and fulfilling lives for both individuals and communities.” Currently the economy is “survival of the fittest.”
We have forgotten the difference between desire and needs.
How does it work?
Much of this is common sense. Stewardship of the land was clearly laid out in scripture. The authors discuss farming: cutting hay at the appropriate time, and fighting erosion. I see this as education or reeducation. As in farming one must understand how something works. Too often we work our land until it is dead. “Thinking about how the economy works only in conventional terms like supply and demand, market dynamics, financial incentives, and the like miss the big picture.” A good farmer knows the importance of allowing the ground to rest, the importance of a cover crop, and the importance of taking care of the land. We are killing the golden goose rather than caring for the goose.
How big is too big?
The authors stress limits, they use a comparison to a home thermostat. We set the temperature to a tolerable level. We must set the economic thermostat to a tolerable level, this means setting limits. We know there is a limited amount of resources. Yet we attempt to use it all up as though it will magically reproduce.
The authors discuss an ecosystem and how it interacts with other ecosystems.
“Our current economic system is geared to promoting as much short-term wealth and consumption as possible and to making sure that investments increase as rapidly as possible, while minimizing regulation.” There has to be a way to dispense the economy’s benefits and yoke. We must look at the human rights issue and we think our responsibility.
How should it be governed?
This is the chapter that makes me uncomfortable. The authors have excellent ideals. Unfortunately, not everyone has the integrity of Brown and Garver. Even the authors admit this fact. They set 5 core principles:
Capacity and Authority
Accountability and Effectiveness
They also suggest 4 global institutions for a whole Earth economy.
Brown and Garver base much of their book on their faith. I admire them and their beliefs. Their suggestions are worthy and workable if man was not corrupt. I am a bit concerned with the idea of a Global Economy. I am not for a One World Order and their suggestions do lead that direction.
Having said that, in a perfect world, where man had integrity, this would work. However, in a world where leaders are corrupt and taking food away from their people in exchange for weapons, it won’t work. I do what I can in my own small space. Perhaps that is where we must start. If we reach out to those around us first, show them love, meet their needs and then exponentially that will grow.
Right Relationship is an excellent read. It gives the reader much to ponder. The ideals behind this book will stay with you long after you lay the book down. This book is easy to read and understand. Unlike many other books on this topic, you do not have to be a economics major to understand the authors’ points. I highly recommend this book. We need to seriously look at this problem and Brown and Garver may have the answer.