Pope Benedict authored an encyclical that was published last July and received a lot of attention due to its economic focus. Encyclicals are issued infrequently; usually 1-2 years apart, sometimes more, sometimes less.
This one calls for a better economic existence for the people of the world. It does so from a different perspective though: the view of a Pope, who sees people not as economic units or Catholics or Muslims or Americans or Yemenis or Capitalists or Communists, but as God's creations, all of whom are to be charitably and truthfully loved and treated as equal parts of one whole.
Presently, humanity is a competitive lot. Many would argue that that competitiveness has been the very thing that has driven us to our current state of development and wealth. But what about cooperation? Wouldn't that be an even more productive force? If we draw a series of concentric circles around us, with ourselves at the center, then our immediate family, best friends, good friends, friendly acquaintances, people we don't know, people in other countries, people with other beliefs or customs, etc. in larger and larger circles that extend further and further outward, we would find that we would go to any lengths to assist those nearest us, and then to lesser and lesser lengths to help those away from us. Why do this? Well, in a selfish way, it does help us to have those nearest us in a state of well-being. But we don't even get to that realization, because we don't think about it. We just help our spouse, or our child, or our parents, if they need it and if we are able. Or even if we are pretty much unable.
We don't economize the decision, because they ARE us. And we are each better off for it. But where should that stop? Is the innermost circle the boundary, or is it the next circle out? Or the next? Who decides? We do cut it off at some point, because it is after all a competitive world, and at some point, we would be taken advantage of. But if the competition were to end, we would have no need for our defensive posture, and would be free to help whomever we could, regardless of how far their circles radiated out from us.
The ultimate reason that we cut it off, however, is because at some point, we stop seeing people in those outer circles as ourselves, as part of one whole, as members of our family, and instead see them as others, competing with us on some level. It is within our power to choose to see ourselves and our self-interests as secondary to a higher purpose and authority. We choose not to do this. And even if we did make that unlikely choice and live our lives accordingly, we would most likely "lose" by all conventional methods of score keeping in this life. Almost every single one of us is not ok with the prospect of that outcome. I know I'm not, even though I wish I was.
It tells me something about myself that is hard to come to grips with: that, given the choice between this world and the next, the demands of this world win out in almost every single case. And unfortunately, there are probably over 6 billion separate individuals just like me in that regard, instead of a single One with 6 billion parts.