Core Elements of HEG’s Conceptual Framework
The purpose of HEG’s conceptual framework is to advance a systematic process of learning through commitment to a core set of principles and concepts that stimulate and guide inquiry. This inquiry is approached with a humble posture of learning. The core elements of HEG’s evolving conceptual framework are:
Achieving coherence between the material and spiritual dimensions of reality. We live in a world that is governed by relatively tangible and relatively intangible forces. Science, as a system of knowledge and practice, offers insight into the more tangible forces that govern our material world. Based on these insights humanity has developed technologies that have amplified and extended our physical powers, increased our material productivity, and enabled us to explore the inner and outer limits of our natural environment. Yet science and technology tell us little about those intangible forces – such as love, inspiration, and compassion – that ennoble the human spirit and beckon us to transcend the baser impulses of our material nature. Religion is the primary system of knowledge and practice that people in every culture throughout history have used to explore the operation of these spiritual forces in our lives. When science and religion operate in harmony, they serve as complementary systems for investigating these material and spiritual dimensions of reality. Economic activity, in order to be just and sustainable, must be guided by the best insights that these complementary systems have to offer. Only then will economic activity reflect the underlying coherence of the material and spiritual dimensions of reality. There is, of course, much to learn about achieving this coherence within a corporate enterprise, but Harmony Equity Group is committed to this learning process.
Acknowledging the organic unity and interdependence of humanity. Intensifying global interdependence is a defining characteristic of this stage of humanity’s social evolution. Attempts to advance human prosperity and well-being cannot ignore this reality. In order for economic activity to be just and sustainable, it needs to be informed by the principle of the oneness of humanity. The insight that humanity constitutes a single social body, with shared interests and aspirations, appears deceptively simple, yet it constitutes a fundamental challenge to inherited assumptions and practices in the field of business and commerce. Much like the human body, the increasingly interdependent body of humanity is composed of diverse members whose well-being can only be achieved through integration, mutualism, and cooperation. No cell or organ lives apart from the human body and the well-being of each member of the body derives from the well-being of the whole. At the same time, it is the unity and interdependence of the body’s diverse members that permits the full realization of the distinctive capacities inherent in each. The organic unity that is implied by this analogy has profound implications for corporate governance. Commitment to the principle of the oneness of humanity means that the value and success of any enterprise ultimately depends upon, and will be measured by, its contribution to the well-being of humanity as a whole. There is, again, much to learn about the application of this principle within a corporate enterprise, but Harmony Equity Group is committed to this learning process.
Recognizing the reciprocal relationship between unity and justice in human affairs. In the absence of justice, unity becomes oppressive. Justice must therefore be the fundamental organizing principle of a unified and interdependent society. Justice, in this context, implies fairness, equity, a sincere search for truth, and a recognition that the well-being of individuals and groups is achieved by promoting the well-being of the entire social body. When the consciousness of the oneness of humanity is combined with a commitment to justice, a collective will to advance humanity’s shared interests emerges. This commitment to justice helps protect a corporation from elevating its own interests above the general interests of humanity as whole. In this regard, one of the essential expressions of justice is the fair and equitable distribution of wealth within society, because extremes of wealth are linked to extremes of poverty. In addition, within any given corporation, the principle of justice requires a recognition of the interdependence of capital and labor, because the generation of surplus value is a function of both. Justice thus implies profit sharing and other mechanisms that ensure the fair and equitable distribution of surplus value within a corporation. Again, there is much to learn about how to operationalize the principle of justice within a corporate enterprise, but Harmony Equity Group is committed to this learning process.
Cultivating our capacity for altruistic service to others. It is unrealistic to imagine that a more unified and just society can emerge – and that corporations can play a constructive role in this process – without the adoption of a more mature and holistic understanding of human nature. As long as humans are narrowly conceived as selfish, materialistic, and competitive beings, corporations will function largely as self-interested entities focused on the competitive accumulation of wealth for their owners or shareholders. However, a new model of human nature is gradually emerging across the human sciences. Humans, we are learning, are wired for both competition and cooperation, egoism and altruism – and our cultural environment plays a significant role in determining which of these potentials become more fully manifest. This scientific insight is consistent with the perennial religious insight that humans have a spiritual nature that can be cultivated through the exercise of free will, the practice of various spiritual disciplines, and an orientation of altruistic service to others. Moreover, we are learning from both science and religion that true happiness and fulfillment in life come not from competitive material acquisition but from cooperative and altruistic relationships. This insight constitutes another fundamental challenge to inherited assumptions and practices in the field of business and commerce. Translating this insight into corporate culture and practice will again require much learning, but Harmony Equity Group is committed to this process.