by Henri van Eeghen
Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
You may expect me to talk in detail about social investing, or if you like, impact investing. Well maybe I will say a few words about that, but most of all I will explore my way of looking at how I think the world around us is changing and my drivers and how it connects me to my very inner world and yes, how that relates to social investment. This time I will talk less about the spiritual dimension and more about the underlying drivers for me to contribute to very necessary change.
You know, it appears that the Maya's were right; the world is at crossroads, in the middle of serious change. We do not only have an economic crisis, but actually our financial WORLD has never been so fragile, with repercussions worldwide. In fact the crisis is not only economic; it is also political, ecological, technological and demographic as well as social-cultural and spiritual. And they actually reinforce each other. Our traditional system has become highly dysfunctional and very much incapable of giving us mechanisms by which so many of the problems and challenges we face can be solved. We appear addicted to the system and like any human addiction, physical and mental dependency is difficult to stop. And yes, I was addicted to this system and felt highly uncomfortable with the results. Fortunately it also creates room for a new era!
I really believe that current times demand for a new language that gives momentum to the change that is in the air. We are moving from a simple market morality toward a more public morality. This new public morality makes it quite clear that the demand we put on society we also put on ourselves. If we individually strive for more we end up collectively with less. The crisis and the spirit of the time force us into a surprising combination of putting oneself into perspective and self-empowerment. Indeed ‘Everything I do contributes to society – and everything that I don’t do will be withheld from society.’ We are going to see our individual strength and values as part of the bigger picture. For me it leads to a higher and deeper consciousness and positive energy, or if you will the power of love.
The innovative assignment and challenge for the future for me is to understand the greater cohesion. The world is complex and I am but a small part of it. At the same time all decisions made daily can amount to world events. The media tell us in the Western world that our pensions are used in products that are also used by dictators. At the same time, we watch in agony the terrible pictures of dead bodies in Mosul and Las Vegas. We use our iPad to angrily tweet about the terrible circumstances iPad are produced in. A century ago Henry Ford said:” it is for the better that people don’t understand our banking system because if they do, it could lead to a revolution”. The search for cohesion fascinates us more and more......
Hundreds of years ago we found out that the world is not flat. Now the era of linear thinking ends. The direct road between investment and profits are blocked by Avaaz, Twitter and our own conscience. Every step we take, as a human being or as a company or organization, has consequences. I slowly have learned to involve the bigger picture, the complete circle in our decisions. The term holism was taken from the esoteric world, but makes a comeback in management literature as well. Cradle to cradle thinking has lots of followers. In the field of food supplies initiatives arise that minimize the waste within the chain. Local production turns out to be more often a profitable and appreciated alternative. Restaurants use vegetables and herbs from their own gardens. The food chain becomes smarter, cleaner and healthier. Circular thinking leads to new services in the field of energy. And people organize themselves into new type of cooperatives, for insurance and for working capital needs and many others. Even taxes will adapt to this chain thinking. Often we pay for the raw materials that we waste. This would lead to a revolution in the way we are taxed: We should not be taxed for the things we contribute to the chain, only for what we take from it.
Slowly we replace our old models by a new way of thinking. In order to get the future clear we need to be able to see the reality from different points of view, just like quantum mechanics. If we zoom out there is always a pattern to be seen from which we can draw conclusions. But we also need to go back to the smallest essence to discover elements with which we can create the new cohesion. Sometimes we look a bit further into the future: we are on our way to an era of dynamic cohesion, in which holistic managers and data pilots show us the right direction, in which circular becomes the new linear and where we truly realize that we are one, one collective. It is the strength of the smallest link that defines how the chain will grow. And yes, I am part of that chain! What a privilege Quantum mechanics teach us that a small part can be at several places at the same time. That sounds complicated. And it is. The future expects us to have the expertise to have a look at a problem or opportunity from different points of view. We are going to investigate different dimensions of reality, like most young people are doing already. They don’t worry about the line between individual and virtual individual. Also the line between mind and body becomes less clear. Microbiologist Rosanne Hertzberger writes: ”whether a treatment is through the brain such as placebos, or directly aimed at the disease such as medication, the effect is just as measurable. Brain and Body are no separate worlds. Old lines disappear when we rise above them and start to see the connection.
And so I see a change from thoughtless consuming towards meaningful creating. For the coming years one can predict that the economy will be characterized by the strength of the smallest link. New systems are built everywhere. Now we have the pillar of health care, the pillar of finance and the pillar of politics. It should be different. The smallest chains will be connected in the near future. That is how they get the big systems out of their powerful comfort zone. Elderly people start a care cooperation. This way they stay out of the nursing home as long as possible. Independent professionals organize joint purchase. Micro loans lead to maximum revenue and social impact. Social enterprise is taking a flight, where profit is not the main motivator, but is an important ingredient for success, growth and continuity. The old system capsizes because the smallest chain discovers its strength and thus changes the chain. It is truly out of the box....and all of it has a social investment component to it! I am glad I was born in this time of change. I am glad I can contribute to the development of social investments as a catalyst of change.
Let me finish with a poem, by Dawna Markova:
I Will Not Die an Unlived Life
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.