“The spiritual dimension of man resurfaces in phases of chaos”

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW. – In his work Commit to the common goodPhilippe Royer reaffirms the need for a “duty of hope” in order to face up to our disenchanted world and succeed in transforming it positively.

Philippe Royer is a business leader and has chaired the movement of Christian Entrepreneurs and Leaders (EDC) since 2018.

FIGAROVOX. – In your work Commit to the common good , you first mention your personal and professional experience. Why did you decide to write this book and what is its purpose?

Philip Royer. – I wrote this book because I had the intuition that our country was going to live through a difficult period and that it was time to awaken the intelligence of the good. The results of the legislative elections and the rate of abstention reflect that we are at the end of a model. The French are not waiting to find out who is going to betray whom to secure a majority, they are waiting for a paradigm shift. Many people have understood that we will have to change, this book provides answers to those who want to but do not know how to do it or where to start. But we need them because the world will only change when everyone stops being a spectator or a commentator to become an actor.

The first page of your book mentions the “duty of hope”. What does it consist of and what is the place of religion in your approach? Do we live in a disenchanted society?

The world that is not going well and that is experiencing the end of the cycle will experience chaos and emergences. By 2030, we will experience the end of an ultra-liberal model that took off after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Crises have followed one another since the 2000s: finance, climate, insecurity, debt, pandemic, and finally the political crisis which reflects the end of the cycle of change. We might think it’s all screwed up, but it’s not, it’s all connected! We need to take these ecosystem issues into account.

When every human being would be right to be desperate, we must bring out a duty of hope, a form of unwavering trust from which we will know how to bring out the solutions and alternatives necessary for the future. The place of religion belongs to everyone. As far as I am concerned, my hope that there is life after death has changed my life, has given me a taste for wonder and the desire to give meaning to my time on earth.

We must get our society out of a scheme centered on the individual because the sum of individualisms does not make the common good.

Philip Royer

What do you mean by “economy for the common good”?

Our society has reached the limits of the general interest. We have been making decisions for almost 50 years trying to satisfy a majority of often the most influential people. The time has come to hear the cries of the poor and to mend our multi-fractured country. The common good aims to find the overall positive solution for the collective and for the dignity of each of the parties without exception. The economy of the common good reconciles freedom of enterprise, innovation with the inclusion of the most vulnerable and respect for the planet. We must get our society out of a scheme centered on the individual because the sum of individualisms does not make the common good.

One of the starting points for changing attitudes and becoming co-creators of a better world would be to dwell on the notion of “free” and “gift”. Why are these notions central?

At the end of a life, for each of us the main thing will have been the free part of our life. We received life for free, love and friendship are free. Free is the extra soul that we give to our life. The associative and charitable sector which is the shock absorber of social inequalities is based on free access. When I give, I receive more than what I give because I become this co-creator, contributing actor. Our company focused onhomo economicus must be balanced by developing the share of thegay donor. It is up to us to leave the fear of losing to find the joy of sharing. Giving money is important, but we also need to give skills and time, sometimes our most precious asset. Giving time generates the transforming encounter. I come to help and that’s good but I realize that the other gives me a lot too.

We must help everyone to leave their materialistic alienation to regain their freedom and become again this human person who finds the sense of wonder of nature, of the present and of the encounter with the other.

Philip Royer

You talk about the importance of the “possibility to marvel”. Why is this essential?

What is dramatic is that our hyperconsumption society does not make individuals happy. Like drugs, we crave the next dose of consumption to come. Moreover it generates jealousy because I always find someone who has more than me. As over-consumption does not bring happiness, people complain and are jaded! They zap! Some frustrated and in revolt break public and private property. We must help everyone to leave their materialistic alienation to regain their freedom and become again this human person who finds the sense of wonder of nature, of the present and of the encounter with the other. To be amazed is to leave behind the grudges and remorse of the past, it is to stop projecting oneself into an anxiety-provoking future in order to fully live the present and give thanks for what we are experiencing.

We must stop trying to conquer everything, we must agree to deploy the talents we have received.

You note the clear decline of a large part of the spirituality of societies in the West, and in particular of the Christian part. Why does spirituality seem fundamental to you?

Although some currents try to make believe that man is a species like the others, human beings are endowed with a body, a heart, a brain like the other species but are also endowed with a soul . This gives man a transcendental dimension to his life.

In all civilizations, this spiritual part has always been present. It is constitutive of the human being.

We live in a time of spiritual quest. Meditation is practiced more and more because the human being who has exhausted himself in his materialistic quest needs to find himself.

Meditation which is self centered can be a step towards prayer which is a space of relationship between God and man. History shows us several times that religion returns in phases of chaos, when man understands that he cannot save himself alone!

I think that a society can only find unity if it knows how to combine identity and otherness.

Philip Royer

You evoke the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the order of Friars Minor between the twelfthth and the XIIIth centuries. Why is this figure important to you?

For me Saint Francis of Assisi is a figure of freedom and joy. He took the liberty of answering a call to leave his wealth developed by his merchant activities which made him a slave to give everything, to marvel at brother sun, water, earth… in summary of all these that are given to us and that must be preserved for future generations. He often recalled that meeting lepers was what had opened his heart to spiritual conversion.

Saint Francis of Assisi has a lot to tell us about our society of overconsumption which has succeeded in creating slums, places where the waste of the consumer society and the excluded from this materialistic society are found. It must inspire us and lead us to dare to wear a new form of sobriety or happy frugality. At the end of his life, Saint Francis, by his unity of life and his exemplarity, had already mobilized 3,000 to 5,000 Franciscan friars. Nothing is impossible for those who give their life for a great cause, they generate great fruitfulness!

According to you, the difference, and the conservation of this difference, are essential for a society to remain united. What is the risk of a society that rejects any form of difference or distinction?

I think that a society can only find unity if it knows how to combine identity and otherness.

Identity because everyone needs to be anchored through their roots. The absence or denial of identity generates uprooted and lost individuals in search of belonging. At the slightest storm, people drown in the bustle of the world. Conversely, the excess of identity which leads to seeing the other as an enemy leads to sectarianism and withdrawal into oneself. It is therefore up to us to take a ridge line.

Any assumed identity is essential but only makes sense if it is nourished by otherness, by the acceptance of the different other. This is what allows us to live together. However, living together with respect for each other’s dignity is the challenge that we must take up while taking care of our planet. I think it will be the entrepreneurial challenge that will be the lever that will allow us to meet the social and environmental challenges.

This involves awakening the indifference of the good so that everyone commits to the common good to make their best contribution to the world. Let’s dare to undertake our life because life is beautiful!

Commit to the common goodPhilippe Royer, Editions Emmanuel, 2022, €19. Editions Emmanuel

“The spiritual dimension of man resurfaces in phases of chaos”