In the latest episode of the Earth Charter podcast, Mirian Vilela talks with Thomas Legrand about his new book, Politics of Being, moving toward a new model for development, and how this connects with the Earth Charter. Legrand sees the current development model, based on economic growth, as the source of many of the world’s problems. As he was searching for a wisdom-based approach to development, he came across the line in the EC about when “basic needs having been met…being more instead of having more” and was surprised that after 25 years of the EC, this idea had not been explored more. In his book he writes that all of the problems we face today come from our minds and hearts, and this, too, is where the solution lies. We need to focus on personal fulfillment of our “true nature” rather than accumulating wealth.
Legrand sees the Earth Charter as a very important declaration that offers a unique, long-term vision. He believes it could be a reference point for this work on creating new culture and worldviews. His idea of the politics of being is not only about personal fulfilment but also aligning the purpose of institutions and governments to help individuals become the best version of themselves. Currently our society is aligned for wealth accumulation and competition, but it should instead be focused on creating better, wiser, more fulfilled individuals. He acknowledges that normally bottom-up approaches are touted as the solution; however, because our institutions are teaching the wrong ideas and are set up to support them, we need to start from the top down to make these changes, especially to make them rapidly.
The book is filled with concrete examples – nine chapters – on how to make this happen. It examines existing policies and how to scale up what is already successful. Some solutions include promoting healthier child development like secure attachment between parents and children with parental leave and childcare and shifting to education for being and promoting positive character, values, cooperative learning, and a more personalized curriculum. Legrand believes we need to reframe capitalism, intellectual property rights, and move from globalization to local economies and create an economy that ensures everyone’s basic needs are met. The result should be a society should be where we practice these deeper human values in every sphere and where we cultivate the best versions of ourselves.