Turning the Cultural Spotlight on Areas of Poverty

Business parks set mature expectations at the conclusion of a bright and productive year

by Luigino Bruni

from the Report EoC 2012-2013, in "Economy of Communion - a New Culture (Economia di Comunione - una cultura nuova)" n.38 - Insert in Città Nuova n.23/24 - 2013 - December, 2013

Report 2012 2013 Luigino BruniThe year has been one of the richest and most productive in the EoC’s 22 years. The starting of the Italian School of Civil Economy in the Lionello Business Park, and the taking-off of AIPEC are two of the most visible results. As are the development of the EoC in Africa and the spreading of training courses for young people in several parts of the world. We must be grateful especially to the leaders of the commissions, the associations and the business parks throughout the world and to entrepreneurs – those who for decades have lived the life of communion and shared their business profits, as well as the new entrepreneurs who are just arriving attracted by Chiara Lubich’s prophetic vision.

I see three areas where the challenges of the near future will be focused. The first are the business parks. Chiara Lubich had purposely wanted them right from the earliest days of the EoC, and they constitute an essential part of the EoC’s DNA. The calling of the business parks is not always very clear, a calling to be innovational laboratories of a new economy;productive inclusion of those who are excluded, and in being cultural beacons where many can go on pilgrimage as to a secular shrine.

We have just started a new phase of reflection and re-launching of the business parks in the oikonomia¹ of the EoC, but we are still just at the beginning. The number of business parks should increase both in the most advanced industrialized countries, and in the developing world. Then, there is that great topic of the poor. The EoC was begun when Lubich turned her sights on the poor of one of the world’s metropoli. The poor have always been at the center of our attention and the focus of our actions over all of these years. Today, however, poverty is a continent of a thousand faces, and we can no longer restrict our activity to those referred to in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles: “there were no poor among them” – those who make up the poor in the traditional sense, those without food, housing, medical care, schooling, and so on.

Report 2012 2013 MoveliteToday, in more and more countries poverty takes the form of unemployment (especially among the young), new addictions (we can think of gambling, and therefore appreciate the importance of the “Slot Mob” campaign in Italy), and the thousands of people and communities afflicted by loneliness and the bankruptcy of “spiritual capital”, even when they live in the midst of plenty. The EoC must increasingly venture out into these new territories without abandoning the poverty of yesterday and the poverty that will always be with us. Finally, the culture. The EoC was begun also, and perhaps above all, as a large cultural movement, because it offers a total humanism that goes beyond (although it embraces) the life of the enterprise and the strictly economic sphere. Those who meet the EoC must meet people capable of telling a different tale of life in common, of politics and capitalism. We need to tell our story which is endowed with a vision of divine providence and hope, pointing to a better present and a better future.

To overcome these challenges, and thus march more decisively toward the vision of EoC that Chiara portrayed in 1991, we need to address these challenges together with many comrades and fellow travelers. The charism that drives the EoC is that of unity. And unity is achieved with and for others. When we are with and for others, the many people of good will who await an economy of communion will value our proposal. And the EoC will expand and more and more become what it is meant to be.

¹ Oikonomia is the management of the household so as to increase its use value to all members of the household
over the long run. If we expand the scope of household to include the larger community of the land, of shared values, resources, biomes, institutions, language, and history, then we have a good definition of ‘Economy for community.’

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