In a time of national turmoil, we can turn to Buddhist economics for guidance.
Trump’s free market economics and narcissistic tweets are causing turmoil, confusion, and suffering. An aggressive, mean-spirited approach to live will cause pain, in spite of the fact that people want an economy that provides a prosperous meaningful life as we care for our planet.
Buddhist economics shows us the path for creating comfortable, worthwhile lives for all people and a healthy planet, and is based on three key ideas:
- Humans are interdependent with nature, and our health depends on caring for all living creatures and healthy ecosystems. Violence and greed lead to misery.
- Chasing more and more income does not make us happy. Living in harmony with each other and with nature, as we live with loving kindness to help others, makes us happy. As we transfer income from the wealthy to those in need, both at home and abroad, everyone is better off and our economies perform better.
- The United States leadership in reducing global warming, in transferring income to relieve poverty and suffering globally, and in stopping wars and conflict, will make the country truly great as we all come together to live with peace and prosperity.
Free market economics is based on three gravely harmful ways of thinking:
- Humans dominate nature, which is used to increase consumption, and we don’t need to worry about destroying our ecosystems.
- National well-being is based on average income growth, and increasing the incomes of companies and the very rich with reduced taxes and other perks is how we can make everyone better off.
- The United States does not have to care about the well-being of people in other countries, and an individual ego-centered free market economy will automatically make the US great again.
Buddhist economics reminds us that people are interconnected with each other and with Earth. Now is the time to connect with our sangha—our family and neighbors, our community—and mobilize to protest policies that can harm people and nature.
One mandate of Buddhist economics is to reduce suffering of all people. Now is the time to honor the basic goodness of all people, and join together in the fight to protect the rights and dignity of immigrants, LGBTs, Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims—everyone, and also to reach out to those who feel isolated and left behind and supported Trump in their confusion.
Buddhist economics looks to the basic goodness in all of us, our Buddha Nature, and reminds us that the suffering of one person causes suffering for everyone. Now is the time to reduce the painful anger of the Trump supporters, along with the pain of people around the world who are suffering from hunger and from climate change.
As we care for each other and for Earth, our love and compassion for one another and for our planet grows. As peace and harmony pervade the world, as hunger and physical deprivation end, as people live comfortable lives with dignity, and as Earth’s ecosystems are protected—then life is good.
The leap to Buddhist economics takes moral courage to act, to speak out, to mobilize with people around the world. Mobilization to stop harmful policies by the Trump Administration and to demand that our governments at the local, state, and national levels do the right thing to stop global warming and to care for all people must be our top priority.
We have no time to lose, and together we can accomplish much!