Summary of Statement
Our global economy needs reformation.
The way our civilization produces energy needs reform. Ignoring conservation of our natural order must end. The concentration of wealth needs reform. The Trust Gap between elites and the common people, between rulers and the ruled, between the rich and those who need access to wealth, must be closed. The continued tendency of a now-wealthy and educated world towards intolerance and wars needs correction.
The reformation of our global civilization must, in addition, address abuses of power, in both markets and governments. It must counteract the dystopian and narcissistic disruptions of digitalization – mindlessness, short-termism, other-directed “bubbles” of conformity in our choice of values and beliefs, and the concentration of Big Data in a few hands. This essential reformation also must find and secure value in human talent to complement the coming achievements of artificial intelligence.
Luther proposed new ways of thinking about individual responsibility and an individual’s relationship to power which, in time, facilitated the rise of modern science, free market capitalism, and constitutional democracy; truly new models of civilization rewarding rising expectations of progress again and again.
Luther proposed two roads to living rightly: individual faith in God and personal engagement with the teachings of scripture. He further believed, as a Christian, that all persons could serve God in their various vocations from high to low. He claimed that all believers could serve as ministers of higher purpose in this world. Luther thus focused responsibility for the world on individuals and he ennobled their occupations as necessary to the accomplishment of God’s purposes.
No matter what the structural power of systems and institutions, the proximate cause of change is individual conviction, courage, and leadership. Individual leaders use vision and mission to set in motion the acts which we later write up as history.
The Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism and the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics appreciate our individual claims to freedom but question whether freedom without responsibility can ever lead to constructive change.
Luther insisted on radical freedom of individual belief, but only within a faithful willingness to serve God and love one’s neighbor. Luther asked the hard question of what is our freedom for?
Today we still should ask the same difficult question. An individualism that asks only, “What’s in it for me?” cannot address the dangers before us. An unhealthy atomization of humanity cannot bring us closer to happiness.