Campaigning and (Enlightened) Self Interest

I’ve been thinking for a while about the morality of using ‘enlightened self interest’ in the service of campaigning (on issues like climate change, global poverty, asylum seekers/refugees, etc.).

Is it strategically more beneficial to consciously frame a campaign around enlightened self interest (rather than, say, a more ‘pure’ altruism)? Is it ethically/morally acceptable to do so? In a context (especially for Western nations) of unadulterated self interest, is a move to ‘enlightened’ self interest a step in the right direction?

It’s been helpful, then, to stumble across this interview with the excellent Rev. Dr Joel Edwards, where he discusses ‘legitimate self interest’ (in the context of the campaign around the aid budget in Britain).

I’m going to think a little more on these things. I’d welcome your input!


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Josh Dowton

Student of history/theology/nonviolence/permaculture/missional thinking. Large of limb, red of hair. Semper in excretia sumus, solum profundum variat.

One thought on “Campaigning and (Enlightened) Self Interest”

  1. Mate, you ask the toughies don’t you!

    I have also been thinking about how that all works, or doesn’t work, as the case may be.

    I have come to the point where the words of Jesus about doing good for goodness sake is the ideal to which I have come to aspire. Unfortunately I am a bruised and broken individual, and sometimes wilful as a result of damage done, if not down right rebellious at times. Even my goodness is subject to the hidden motivations of a broken spirit.

    When my eyes open and I once again come face to face with my own goodness-that-is not-so-good-after-all the only option left is to recognise and accept my limitations and errant motivations and chose to continue to do good for nothing other than goodness sake.

    Oddly enough, this in-the-moment response in the face of my own failings is often accompanied by a sense of the presence of God and an overwhelming awareness of the love of God not only for me but for those among among whom I want good to happen. No KPIs, no strategy, no agenda, no desired outcomes. No one to please yet I experience the knowing that one greater than myself is pleased to use me.

    I’ll now go and listen to Joel Edwards…


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