I would describe myself as an atheist, whereas our founder Terry Hallman was a man whose Christian faith had significant influence on his social activism. I used the past tense because Terry died on 18th August, in his efforts to bring social justice to children abandoned to state care in Eastern Europe.
In the end he placed this cause ahead of his own welfare and in this can be considered to have lain down his life, for the vulnerable.
When we got together in 2003, he was fasting for economic rights in the US and when his health began to fade I offered him an exit strategy, which was to invite him to the UK such that we might work together.on his People-Centered approach to local economic development. As I learned later, it is part of Jewish Talmud teaching that in saving a life, one takes responsibility to bring that person into ones business as a partner.
When Karen Armstrong began her Charter for Compassion, she invited organisations to become partners. I applied, stating my position as being both an atheist and a small business owner, yet one who saw the need for a compassionate form of business and economics as we endeavour to practice.
In his founding paper, Terry had argued the case for an alternative to traditional capitalism which could be "measured and calibrated in human terms" and a fundamental predicate that human beings are not disposable in the name of economic progress. His concept was a business which re-invested profit into a given community to stimulate local wealth creation and in 1999, set about his proof of concept in the Tomsk Regional Initiative.
It was in 2009 that I discovered this when I read the Vatican encyclical Caritas in Veritate:
'This is not merely a matter of a "third sector", but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society'
"Striving to meet the deepest moral needs of the person also has important and beneficial repercussions at the level of economics. The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred. ."
It prompted me to blog, drawing on Terry's inspiration
You, We, Me, Ethics and People-Centered Economics
Terry spoke out about Death Camps for Children when we became aware of a place called Torez in Ukraine. In a video which came more recently from a children's charity, you may hear the lyrics based on Isaiah 6:8:
"I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
It was in response to Terry's efforts, that the government of Ukraine pledged to create more than 400 rehab centres, as part of his significant impact.
In his Manifesto for People-Centered Economics, he'd illustrated how money imagined into existence as debt has disenfranchised real human beings such that their lives were placed at risk. His call for economics measured an calibrated in human terms, would I suspect, be congruent with Shariah law.
Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings. Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion.
From our conversations I know that a strong influence on this work were from Vedas and Tao teachings
In the legacy that Terry left behind, I find much congruence in the ideals of a man whose childhood imagination of human brotherhood, inspired The Law of Love and The Law of Violence. and the last words "to us, his brothers who came after him".