Just suppose for a moment that the guiding principle for business was Love. This would change everything.
And this possibility is not as odd as it might seem, since it appears that our natural inclination is for loving. According to social biologist Humberto Maturana, we are by nature “loving animals” – homo sapiens amans. And the shocking consequence this brings is that, for us, the negation of love is a burden. Aligning ourselves with the dominant culture of assertive competition and selfish personal gain is actually distressing, because it is unnatural. The damage this causes is evident in burnout, anxiety and depression in the workplace.
In my book Love Matters, I have a chapter on “The Economy of Love” and I say this:
“There is no absolute economy, only differing economies that arise from the different principles and values that underpin them. And if a particular economy…is in disarray, then it is likely that there is something wrong, not simply with its technical operation but with its root principles and values.
And since the old economy almost crashed to the ground in 2008/2009 and in truth remains all but broken, held up by repeated injections of “quantitive easing”, those who propose the possibility of something else should not feel the need to justify themselves. On the contrary it is the guardians of the old economy, powerful though they are, who should do so.
So, let us suppose that we accept that Love, with its qualities of connectedness, relationship and a care for others, is the leitmotif of reality, its causal energy. Then to organize ourselves in ways that negate Love would be a form of delusion, a form of ignorance. It would be much more realistic and beneficial to do all we can to better understand the principles and qualities of Love and put these to work in all we do.”
And in doing this we would not be alone.
In 2014, I was one of a group of people involved with The Spirit of Humanity Forum in bringing together over 200 people from forty countries from around the world to a gathering in Reykjavik, Iceland. The title of the gathering was “Love and Compassion in Governance”. We were advised that we should not use the word “Love” as it would put people off. Actually it drew them in and something like one third of those attending came from “corporate business”. In a wonderful kind of ordered and creative chaos, this community found affirmation and inspiration for their work with love and compassion in a great variety of fields – business, education, the media, politics, the arts, healthcare, peace building and so on. Over 80 percent of those attending the Forum in Reykjavik left with a declared sense of hopefulness and this gathering will take place again in September 2016.
So, in truth, we are attracted to Love and practice it in large parts of our lives, indeed most of our lives. Doesn’t it seem contrary, therefore, that we have been persuaded to accept that this is unrealistic in business? If we cannot practice what we know to be true then we live in a kind of tyranny and we should refuse it. Love should be not at the edge, but at the heart of business.
David Cadman is a Quaker writer. His work can be found at www.lovematters.uk.com and in his most recent book Love Matters, which is available from Amazon.