On the homo economicus-economic man

2015-01-11 10:13

The Almighty, having created man to dwell within the company of others akin him, found it necessary to fashion man with all the resources necessary to bring about what he desired most. God left it upon man to define what it is he desires most. From that desire man fashions his destiny. The homo-economicus made it his life quest to maximize utility as a consumer and economic profit as a producer. Reason dictates that if we were to all follow in the footsteps of the homo-economicus and act solely to possess wealth, we will bring about our own demise.

Upon reflecting on the activities of the homo-economicus, I am reminded of a poem written by Mutabaruka;

“Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree.

Discussing things as they're said to be.

Said one to the others, "Now listen, you two

There's a certain rumor that can't be true.

That man descended from our noble race.

That very idea is a disgrace.

No monkey ever deserted his wife

Starved her babies or ruined her life,

And another thing you will never see

A monkey build a fence around a coconut tree

And let the coconuts go to waste,

Forbidding all other monkeys to taste.

If I put a fence around this tree

Starvation would force you to steal from me…”

Our present day society, deeply rooted in capitalist values and ideals, is characterised by gross poverty, deaths from preventable diseases, corruption and starvation. Yet we have machinery that gives abundance and a rich earth that provides profusely, but many are still in need. More than intelligence we need compassion, love and humanity.

Our path leads only to despondency and destitute, is dystopia the ends we seek?

May the hour come upon us where we suspend our egoistic attitudes and dedicate ourselves to eradicating poverty and inequality. We have got to realign our ends to a commitment to a better life for all.

In my days of despair pondering about those in destitute conditions, I am given courage and optimism in a better tomorrow by the words of former President Thabo Mbeki when he uttered the following; “I would like to say that gloom and despondency have never defeated adversity. Trying times need courage and resilience. Our strength as a people is not tested during the best of times. As we said before, we should never become despondent because the weather is bad nor should we turn triumphalist because the sun shines.”

Follow me on twitter @ramamahapa

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