The Economy of Communion (EoC), founded by Chiara Lubich in May 1991 in San Paolo Brazil, draws entrepreneurs, workers, directors, consumers, savers, citizens, scholars, economists, all committed, at various levels, in promoting a practice and an economic culture imprinted on communion, gratuity and reciprocity. Through their own example, they propose an alternative lifestyle to the dominant one within our capitalistic system.
In Concrete Terms, the EoC Invites us to :
- Live and spread a new civil and economic culture, from the youngest to the oldest among us, which Chiara Lubich called “The Culture of Giving”;
- To form new entrepreneurs and renew present ones who willingly share their profit to sustain the goals of the EoC: reduction of exclusion and its subsequent poverty, diffusion of the culture of giving and of communion, development of businesses and creation of new jobs; business people who can conceive and live their activity as a vocation and service for the common good, aiming at the excluded in every part of the world and every social context;
- To fight various forms of indigence, exclusion and poverty with a double inclusion: productive and communitarian; in fact, we are convinced because of our experience of the past twenty years, that no form of forced poverty can be cured without including the disadvantaged in living fraternal communities and, where possible, also in the workplace, within businesses: so that those who can, and should work, might have an opportunity, or otherwise run the risk of remaining forever indigent.
In order to make this project possible, The Economy of Communion is working on a vast project of education to the culture of giving, through schools, meetings, formative events geared to young people, workers, business people and citizens.
Lastly, in Chiara’s charismatic intuition (at San Paolo in 1991) a founding and fundamental place to develop and make the EoC visible are the industrial parks in the little cities of the Focolare Movement, of which they represent a vital and generative component.
So, from the first ‘Spartaco Lucarini’ Industrial Park born in Brazil, to the last ‘Giosi Guella’ Industrial Park, inaugurated in Portugal in 2010, the parks continue to feed the life of the EoC, an important role today, but destined to become ever more central in the near future
In the Economy of Communion, the producers – entrepreneurs, workers, and their business associates – are inspired by principles rooted in a culture different than what prevails in today’s practice and theory of economics. We can define this “culture” as a “culture of giving” which really is the antithesis of a “culture of having”.
Giving economic assistance can express a self-giving rooted in our very being. In other words, it can reveal an anthropological view that is neither individualistic nor collective but rather is communion.
A culture of giving is not some form of philanthropy or welfare – these are individualistic virtues.
In a deeper sense, the very essence of a person is to be in “communion.”
Consequently, not every type of giving, not every act of giving creates a culture of giving.
For example, there is a “giving” which is contaminated by the desire to have power over another person and that seeks to dominate or oppress individuals and populations. This only appears to be “giving”.
There is a “giving” that seeks satisfaction and self-gratification from the act of giving. In essence, this is an egoistic self-expression and usually is perceived by those who receive it as offensive and humiliating.
There is a “giving” that is self-interested, or utilitarian, found in some of the current neo-liberal tendencies that always seek their own advantage.
And finally, there is the “giving” that Christians find in the gospels.
In this giving, the giver opens up to the other person and remains respectful of his or her dignity. It generates an experience of the words in the gospel “give and it will be given to you” even for the managers of a business. These words from the gospel might manifest themselves to the businessperson in the form of a financial windfall, or in the unexpected discovery of an innovative technical solution, or as an idea for a new winning product.