|Luigino Bruni — professor, PhD in economics, coordinator of the project Economy of Communion|
“In a culture of consumption and finance, that does not understand work anymore and is not even capable of living celebrations—began Professor Luigino Bruni, coordinator of the project Economy of Communion—must go back to reread the family, work and celebration together”, in the light of two key words—gratuitousness and gift—that appear to be “totally other” with respect to economics.
Gratuitousness—explained Bruni—is an art that is learned in the family:
“one of the typical tasks of the family is forming in people the ethics of work well done simply because… things should be done well, because there is a vocation in things that must be respected as such, even when no one sees, or applauds, rewards or punishes me”.
Stripped of unnecessary misunderstandings, gratuitousness
“is a way of acting and a way of life that consists in approaching others, oneself, nature, objects, not to use them in a utilitarian way. To recognize them in their otherness, respect and serve them and to get in relationship with them”.
This is not to oppose the gift to the market, gratuitousness that is our duty,
“because there are, however, major areas of complementarity: the contract can, and should subsidize the reciprocity of the gift”.
This is what happens in many experiences of the social and civil economy, in Fair Trade and the Economy of Communion (of which Bruni is one of the key “thinkers”).
Gratuitousness therefore means recognizing that a behavior should be done because it is good in itself, and not for any reward or to avoid external punishment.
This leading idea has obvious implications both within the family (not to allowances or “pocket money” for one’s children so as to avoid polluting a relationship that must remain in the realm of a gift) and in the world of work.
The salary, in the proposal of Bruni, is understood as the proper recognition for the work done, but should never be an incentive.
It should not become the only motivation for work. And this one of the abuses we are seeing today:
“The dominant capitalist economic culture—Bruni strongly denounced—is creating a silent revolution with epochal consequences about which we say too little even as Christians: money has become the main or only reason to work”.
At the other extreme,
“we must not remain silent and helpless in the face of a political-economic system that rewards public and private sector managers with salaries in the millions and leaves teachers and nurses indigent. It is a question of justice, and therefore political, ethical and spiritual”.
That's why we need to call global attention to the person, in every sphere of life.
The economy and work must also be reconciled with celebration, which “is not understood by the capitalist economy for the same reasons for which it does not understand the true gift”, as “essentially a matter of gratuitousness and relationships”.
“Families know what great failures consumerism produces that fills the void of empty relationships with things”.
Human relationships are often replaced today by gaming, lotteries, alcohol, television, food... That is why it's time—concluded Bruni—to launch “an international moratorium on advertising aimed directly at children.”