I’ve just finished Jim Wallis’ book on the financial crisis, “Rediscovering Values”. 

Wallis begins his book worried that after the global economic crash everyone seems to be asking “When are we going to get back to normal”. Wallis uses this book to argue that this is the wrong question. It’s an exploration of how our relationship with “The Market” has distorted not only our economy, but our communities, our psyches and even our closest personal relationships. Then, turning to what we can learn from understanding this, he calls for 3 old values that we need to rediscover to build a new economy.He admits that his new values for a new economy are really old values that we need to rediscover:

The 3 values of the Market need to be replaced by 3 old values that we need to rediscover:

Greed is good needs to be replaced by Enough is Enough

It’s All About Me needs to be replaced by We’re in it Together

I Want it Now needs to be replaced by a Seventh-generation Mindset

Having been following the recent political party conferences I am reminded of Ed Milliband’s recent calls for a responsible capitalism to replace the broken neo-liberalist capitalism we have been living for the last 30/40 years. (Wallis is not the only person thinking that getting back to normal is the wrong focus. “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett also looks into how the inequality caused by unregulated market forces harms us all, wherever we sit in society.)

One particularly interesting chapter uses Nehemiah as a prophet for our times. Wallis points out how he “petitioned political power to raise the resources and provide the framework necessary for recovery” then he “united the people with a vision for a city restored” (p.210). Wallis says we should be following Nehemiah’s example now we are faced with rebuilding our global economy.

The 20 moral lessons at the end of the book are a brilliant clarion call to how we can all work for a society formed around these new values. There are 20 specific ideas on how we can make a difference in our communities, relationships and households.And they’re not trite either, they are real ways in which we can act out and encourage these 3 values.

The book is well worth a read for those interested in how we got to where we are now, and in how we move on from here. It’s not full of dense economic language, but neither is it too simplisitc and naive.

Wallis dedicates the book to his two sons (aged 11 and 6), writing that:

“They make me laugh, they make me proud, they give me good ideas, their social conscience challenges my own, their indignation at what is wrong makes me more willing to challenge the status quo, their prayers every night help shape my faith,a nd the choices we make about the issues raised in this book will determine their future.”

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to consider the implications of the way we organise our society, and we owe it to them to listen to the inciteful perspectives they often show!

you can find out more at his website www.rediscoveringvalues.com