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A purely economic view of human beings is not only damaging to the individual, but also to families, communities and society itself. In education, we focus on standardised goals and narrow targets for achievement; with our careers, rampant consumerism has led to people seeking only financial benefit, working for promotions only to earn enough to fuel further purchasing power. Yet this does not make people happy or fulfilled. Meaningful work is vital for human satisfaction, and it serves neither the company nor the nation to deny such meaning to people. Dignity in work and valuing all labour is key to overcoming the diseases and afflictions that beset those of low status and less regard.
We seek to respond to our contemporary crisis by restoring meaning, virtue, dignity and beauty into everyday life for everyone. The right sort of government guidance, legislation and encouragement has a part to play in this process, but it can be more fundamentally taken forward by allowing a greater scope for the role of intermediary and ethos-led institutions: from family and community, through to schools, businesses, local government and faith communities. Social networks, education and faith can enable people to achieve their full potential, to positively mould and remould their characters, and to contribute to the common good.
We therefore argue for an educational system that facilitates a more holistic approach to children’s development, moving beyond meeting formally defined and over-universalised ‘targets’. Such a system would promote an eventual focus on vocation and job satisfaction, with people gaining more from employment than a pay-cheque at the end of the month. We would also make beauty a key value of urban development, creating an environment that serves more than a functional purpose. A more aesthetic approach to the environment is, we believe, the key to a more effective and local achievement of a sound human centred ecology. In order to truly promote human flourishing, we would seek to restore love, belief and culture, as the past and future cornerstones of society.