Eco-systemic transformation is achieved through interdependence of thought and action
1. Life is eco-systemic. Human beings can only live within a biological network, of which they are an integrated and interdependent part.
The human being lives inside systems of increasing complexity mutually integrated; To understand them in their interdependencies requires an expansion of human consciousness from personal and local to global spheres.
In this new social phase it is necessary to develop an awareness of systems and how they are incessantly at work at all levels, in time and space; learning the dynamics of systems helps to better understand how often-dynamic systems follow a counter-intuitive causality compared to linear causality – “Because of B” or “B is the effect of A’s action” – too simplistic and even misleading for the increasingly dynamic and interconnected contexts in which people act today.
In other words, it is a question of “connecting the dots” using knowledge and skills that enable us to know the relationships of the complex ecosystem in which we work in order to understand the interconnections that act in the context and how these can lead to the emergence of effects that are absolutely unforeseen in the medium and long term.
2. Human dimensions are inseparable and include material, socio-relational and spiritual aspects
The three aspects of the human being – material, socio-relational and spiritual – cannot be placed on the same level: while the material one expresses the interests and needs to be satisfied, the socio-relational and spiritual ones express the values of the person, which are not negotiable as the interests.
The material aspect concerns the relationship between the person and things: it is a “useful relationship” on which the mainstream of traditional economic doctrine is based. This relationship represents the satisfaction of an individual interest. The socio-relational aspect concerns relationships with other people – friendship, family, association – and is a relationship that aims to bring happiness.
The spiritual aspect concerns the transcendent relationship: it transcends the self and the other, to rejoin a universal vision and self-realization of self, and is a relationship that aims to generate harmony between self and the world.
The culture of our time is incapable of giving unity to these three aspects by transforming these statements into a concrete personal experience. On the other hand, the focus on the individual, competition and the search for personal success, to the detriment of other beings, generate more and more personal and collective suffering, dragging the human community towards an unprecedented social, environmental and spiritual crisis. It is therefore urgent and necessary to re-establish the criteria on which human well-being is based.
3. Social well-being requires the combined development of all dimensions of human beings
Man is happy and healthy if he has the opportunity to live a full life; this is in stark contrast to a conception of man’s life based on the struggle for survival. The very concept of survival presupposes competition between beings with the consequent exclusion of the weakest, evokes the death of other beings and promotes existential solitude.
Human well-being, the expression of a full and happy life, is not confined to material well-being; it is not sufficient to make the person feel good, nor can it alone generate social wellbeing, despite the emphasis placed in our culture on measuring GDP as an index of growth in the well-being of a country. It is necessary to underline that the increase in the material well-being of a country does not imply the fair distribution of wealth among people. More and more studies show that, regardless of the measure of the average national income level per person, the higher the inequality perceived by the citizens of a State, the higher and more widespread is the social, psychological and physical suffering in the community. It is therefore the rules of the economic, social and political game that need to be changed in order to improve the well-being of people: the assumptions on which the concept of the well-being of the person, of social, political and economic organisations and systems is based need to be radically revised.
Well-being must be seen in relation to all three dimensions of human development, which must be harmoniously integrated in order to achieve a full ‘flowering’ of man. All three aspects of human well-being are essential and must therefore be satisfied not in a temporal sequence or by self-generation, but at the same time. It is a systemic, multiplicative and non-additive relationship; none of the three aspects can be missing or replaced by an oversizing of the other, otherwise human well-being will not be achieved. These three aspects of human well-being are echoed by three types of goods: material goods or services, on which the GDP is defined; socio-relational goods, which include the intangible relationship between people as a value; and spiritual goods, which satisfy the need for equity, beauty, environmental and social sustainability.
4. Technology must be placed at the service of common well-being and used to help and protect life on Earth
Technology must be used to support human development, helping people in the process of transformation towards a better quality of life for all beings in deep respect of the Earth’s biosphere.
It is a dangerous illusion to believe that technology can save ourselves and our world from the next catastrophe. Technology is not neutral with respect to human intentions, and it cannot go where they do not go. If human intentions remain separate and destructive, so will the effects of the use of technology, making human action exponentially more dangerous. It is essential to distinguish between the means and the ends of human action; technology must be placed at the service of human ends, directed towards the common welfare and full realization of the person.
5. Social life is based on brotherhood, caring and on reciprocity
Reciprocity is the constitutive and justice element of human relations and inter-subjective relations are fundamental for the generation of personal and social well-being. But on one condition: that between a vision of human development based on mutual fear and one based on mutual love, the latter is chosen as the main path to be followed together to improve the living conditions of all living beings.
Many studies have now shown that man naturally feels a sense of warmth and inclusion for other beings, being genuinely predisposed to affection, communion, sociality and empathic extension; we believe that these natural predispositions should be encouraged, strengthened and supported through education and concrete example.
6. Education fosters the full growth of a person and the systemic, ethical and aesthetic understanding of life
There is a natural propensity for good in man to respond immediately to the needs of others; this basic quality must be actively cultivated to allow the full flowering of the human being. Human nature is capable of progress and each of us must commit ourselves to this growth by supporting educational systems that do not hinder the development of basic natural abilities while generating a context in which individual qualities can fully manifest themselves.
We learn to be who we are through others, because imitation and social mirroring are the foundation of human life; learning between the person and the social community is circular, and culture may or may not foster the activation of the person’s innate capacities. Human capacities must be recognized and cultivated in the different social communities, refining them with the practice of disciplines that facilitate the development of thoughts and relational actions, thus overcoming egocentric and individualistic attitudes, and that at the same time enhance the fragility and vulnerability of all living beings, their uniqueness and the bond of solidarity and community that unites them.
The development of these new educational practices favours the emergence and spread among people of a strong sense of awareness and responsibility for their actions; this allows them to strongly limit the use of rules and precepts, controls and sanctions, as these are not the most appropriate tools to promote a healthy and evolutionary social life.
7. Institutions have the responsibility to fully stimulate and sustain the development of human beings and guarantee the safeguarding of the environment
There is a need for favourable and adequate conditions to be in place in the institutional context, enabling the free personal choice to fully express one’s abilities; among others: access to study, access to health, access to the natural environment, access to cultural heritage, access to employment, access to public services. Only if a virtuous circuit between the internal capacities of the person and the possibilities offered by the institutions is triggered and reinforced can a condition of substantial freedom be determined for the individual in realizing the full manifestation of his or her know-how and know-how.
Hence the need to operate at both a personal and an institutional level to allow people to act while enjoying substantial freedoms: a set of opportunities for action that the person can choose and perform. The quality of life of a person and, therefore, his state of well-being depend on the space of freedom made available to discern, choose and act among several possibilities in relation to their attitudes and experiences.
8. Eco-systemic transformation is achieved through interdependence of thought and action
The words that make up this Manifesto are a call to action and constitute indications on the most appropriate and effective ways to follow in different social contexts to become concrete examples to imitate and, if possible, improve.
The ‘exemplary contagion’ has a disruptive power at the social level; being an example with one’s own actions shows others that ‘it is possible to do’. Others will follow by putting into practice the example observed and spreading it in turn, thus producing a multiplier effect.
Actions have the power to transform local reality and represent, at the same time, the trigger of changes at a global level of which it is not possible to predict the extent, since they intervene in a field of forces already underway that can either extinguish its extent or create leverage effects that exponentially strengthen them.
Adhesion to the manifesto
In order to facilitate the process of ‘exemplary contagion’ we believe it is fundamental that GEM can gather not only the accessions of all those who recognize themselves in it, but also and above all of those who are already a concrete example of the application of its principles, as set out above. In fact, the objective of GEM is to create a systemic network among those who already apply these principles (GEM HUB) as a concrete representation to be followed to spread a constitutive wisdom of global transformation processes.