Let's learn to see the tree growing

There are more innovations than what we can see around us. We have to accompany them to bloom

by Luigino Bruni

from "Economia di Comunione - una cultura nuova" n.41 - editorial insert in Città Nuova n.13/14 - 2015 - July 2015

N41 Pag 09 Luigino Bruni Autore ridFor this meeting in Nairobi we have chosen the word 'generativity'. Generating is related to an important word in economics: innovation. Not everyone knows that innovation is a word from the science of botany. It is used for buds and new branches. Innovations need roots, good soil and a living plant. They are life in bloom, generativity in action. And the innovations that become food, gardens and parks also require the work and patience of the farmer or gardener who accompanies them and takes care of them. And so the bud grows into a flower, the vineyard produces good wine and the fig tree starts to generate fruit after years of infertility and does not die.

To understand what is happening to our economy and society, we need to get back to the botanical meaning of the term innovation.

A first message that comes to us from the logic of innovation-bud is called subsidiarity: our hands and technology can only subsidize innovation, that is, they can help the bud bloom; but they cannot invent it. The most important part of the innovation process doesn't really depend on artificial interventions of various hands: it blooms, first of all, because of its inherent strength. For this reason it is only an illusion to think of increasing innovation in our economy without first dealing with the health of the humus, the earth, the trees and the plants. Economic and social innovations in Africa will be born first of all from its humus, from its own land and not by hands coming from the outside, not even by the hands of the global EoC, which can only intervene at a later stage, to help the buds grow.

In our time there are more innovations than we can see, even in Africa, because we N41 Pag9 Nairobi Palco ridlook for them in the wrong pieces of land. The EOC is the gift of eyes capable of seeing buds where others see only deserts. It is the impoverishment of vision, the collective sense of sight, which shortens the horizons and imprisons us in problems, which are also always plentiful. This is what prevents us, even in Africa, to see so much of the new economy that is already there, often among the poor, among those hungry for food and living in the suburbs of big cities. The peoples get healed when inside the suffering and aridity of the "already" they know how to see a "not yet" that is possible and better. Hope is alive and at work if together we are able to see the tree growing in the forest of falling trees, and dream and see the forest of tomorrow around this new shoot. The growing tree is already there, we just have to learn collectively to see it and bring it to bloom by accompanying it. There are many of these trees here in the African lands. There are already some EoC businesses, many young people have set off, often together: it is from these shoots that we must learn to see the forest.

Looking at all the different trees full of buds you learn a lot, and almost always during the crisis of existence, when the glint of tears makes you see otherwise and more - including the tears for the young people killed by terrorists here in Kenya, still present and painful in our eyes: tears we should not dry completely to keep the memory alive.

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