Buen Vivir! Are We Losing Our Freedom? Or Is This The Time To Get It Back?

As published on CSRWire on March 5, 2014: http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/1246-buen-vivir-are-we-losing-our-freedom-to-life-liberty-and-the-pursuit-of-happiness

The corporatocracy is striking out against our personal freedoms and squandering the trust we have placed in our leaders with our votes and our dollars. That their decisions aren’t made with the good of us all in mind is evidenced by the abuse of such government agencies as the NSA and such private corporations as Google, whose hand seems to reach into everything from our personal email to our health records. These large organizations and their lobbyists are writing our laws, buying Congress, and damaging the world while pursuing profits and power.

When we think of personal freedom, our first idea is often about ourselves. This is not the vision of my friend Freddy Elhers, the Minister of the newly formed cabinet position in Ecuador known as Buen Vivir (literally Good Living). Freddy’s closing talk on the opening day of the Human Resources Summit in Istanbul for 2000 corporate executives from all over the world was the “bookend” for my opening keynote in the morning. In his beautifully inspiring speech, he talked about how Ecuador is the first country to have a Ministry of Buen Vivir, a ministry that guides all the other branches of government. He emphasized the importance of living in happiness and love and that Ecuador is committed to that. In fact, the recently revised Ecuadorian Constitution reads: “We … hereby decide to build a new form of public coexistence, in diversity and in harmony with nature, to achieve the good way of living.”

This concept is incredibly inspiring as a way of governing both small and large entities, as well as our individual lives. Our actions impact others everyday, and so it is our responsibility to use our freedom for the benefit of others and the planet. Our personal freedom comes with great responsibility to honor all life with our choices. This is especially true for corporations and governments, and yet that is where we experience the greatest betrayals. In the model offered by Ecuador and a growing number of other Latin American countries, the people view themselves as a collective and their personal freedom as a responsibility to care about each other and to understand that the ecosystem and the entire planet is their “nest,” their home.

Held up against that framework, it should be easier to recognize those choices that will result in the good of our people, and separate them from those decisions that will only pad the pockets of the greedy and powerful. When the corporatocracy bombards us with sound bites about how to run our lives and at the same time exploits us and the precious resources of our planet, it is tempting to become lethargic. But that just plays into the hands of those who wish to control us.

True freedom is personal and powerful; the question to answer is about how we use that freedom to impact those around us, including the corporatocracy. Corporations and governments should exist only to serve a public interest; it is our duty – We the People – to insist that they do so and to only support the ones that comply. If we use our freedom this way, we will also be using our power to create change across the world.

Freddy Elhers likes to point out that “the pursuit of happiness” is embedded in the most sacred document of the United Sates. We the People can get back to those unalienable rights that our founders fought so hard to insure: “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We will be well advised to make those our guiding principles for how we vote, shop, and conduct our lives. Let’s be inspired by Ecuador. We’re all living on this tiny, fragile space station. It’s time to collectively choose Buen Vivir and to make this the time to get back our freedoms – in fact to attain more freedom than humankind has ever before experienced, the freedom to enjoy true prosperity, good living.


The nonprofit organization I founded, Dream Change, is looking for an experienced grant writer to raise funds for our new programs over the next 2 months. In exchange for your work, you will receive free entry to Dream Change programs, the opportunity to spend time with me and other Dream Change members at board meetings and other social gatherings, and the likelihood of a paid position in the future. If you are an experienced grant writer, please send your CV to Executive Director, Samantha Thomas: samantha@dreamchange.org.

To book a speaking engagement, please contact my publicist Peg Booth:
Email: pegbooth@boothmedia.com
Phone: +1 760-929-1111

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About John Perkins

John is a founder and board member of Dream Change & The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit & the author of the NY Times bestseller, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.

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