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Global Harmony & Integration

The further elaboration of the promotion of global harmony and integration, injecting a moral dimension in the society and economy around the world could make a valuable contribution. If every country tries to serve its own self-interest, what is going to happen? Probably, something like what the US did in Iraq, i.e., bombing a country to control its oil resources and to use the oil income of that country to get contracts for rebuilding what has been purposely and ruthlessly destroyed.

The emphasis now being placed on promoting the development of all countries to eliminate poverty and minimize unemployment is highly welcome. However, the saving rate around the world has gone down substantially in every country, the developed as well as developing. This is not to say that the decline in the rate of saving is the only cause of unemployment. It is, however, one of the important causes. If the rate of saving goes up, it may be possible to boost investment without generating inflationary pressures. This should help all countries around the world to raise employment, and minimize crime, tension and anomie. It is the moral dimension that can help us achieve this. If we continue with the prevailing excessive emphasis on the serving of self-interest and ignore the role of moral values in the allocation and distribution of resources, then crime, tension and anomie will tend to rise and rise continuously.

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The injection of a moral dimension is also extremely important for promoting family and social harmony. Without this, as indicated earlier, even the market, the society, and the government cannot operate effectively. If the family members are not willing to sacrifice for each other, the family cannot remain integrated. One can see this happening in the Western world, significantly more than in other countries. Francis Fukuyama refers to this phenomenon as the “great disruption” in his book, The End of Order (1997). If families become disintegrated, then the children are unable to get the love and affection and the kind of upbringing that both the parents can together provide to their children. Statistics indicate that children from broken families are unable to complete school and, if they do complete school, they are unable to complete college and university. Thus, if the quality of the human element goes down in any society, that society may not be able to make a significant advance in development, leave alone fulfilling its desire to attain or maintain supremacy in the fields of science and technology.

A number of factors, economic, moral, social, psychological, political, and historical, influence allocation and distribution of resources, which is the main concern of economics. It is, therefore, a mistake to take into account only the economic variables and to ignore the others. Of all these variables, the moral variables are of particular importance because of their considerable influence on human behavior in general and tastes and preferences in particular.

If the well-being of all human beings is desired in spite of the relative scarcity of resources, then there is no other option available except to inject a moral dimension into economics and also to adopt a multidisciplinary analysis. The prevailing secular approach along with the emphasis primarily only on economic variables may not help us realize the goal of ensuring the well-being of all. This includes the well-being of even animals, birds and insects. These constitute an essential part of a healthy environment and taking care of them is essential for realizing human well-being.

M. Umer Chapra


Source: Essays on Muslims and the Challenges of Globalisation, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. Republished with permission.