Simple truths

“My father was a minister of the Church and I have learned again what I was taught by him: that wealth must help more than the wealthy, good fortune must serve more than the fortunate and riches must enrich not just some of us but all,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the US Congress last Wednesday. In those few simple words, which could have been taken from Hesiod or Aesop, from the Gospel, the traditions of the Sufis, Buddhists or American Indians, in that fundamental truth, this prime minister of humble origins showed a shift in policy from the unlimited worship of the marketplace to concern for society, for the essential needs of human beings. «In our families and workplaces and places of worship, we celebrate men and women of integrity who work hard, treat people fairly, take responsibility and look out for others. If these are the principles we live by in our families and neighborhoods, they should also be the principles that guide and govern our economic life too.» Following the rhetoric of US President Barack Obama, the British prime minister, making the most important speech of his life, looked to the future and to hope in a few fundamental moral principles, talking once more about society and community, about individuals. In times of crisis, Anglo-Saxon leaders, the heirs to a tradition of pragmatism, find the courage to surpass themselves, leaving behind their prejudices and neo-liberal stereotypes, transcending the Mosaic law of Thatcherism and Reaganomics, and dare to face the future in a different way. Yet Europe’s leaders, fatalistic and irresolute, dragging their heels in the 1990s, declare their solidarity with the banks and turn their backs on societies in trouble. It is that kind of self-delusion that is the real crisis.

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