The only thing constant in life is change—Heraclitus. With change being constant in life, change is not avoidable through life.
With this in mind, denying (the need for) change, is denying life. Refusing to deal with it in the present is refusing to be life affirming in the present. This way of being doesn’t stop change from arising—given its constancy—it only ensures having to deal with it in its extreme later.
For example, in American society the need for change arising from human caused global warming is for all intents and purposes glossed over and ignored if not denied by those in authority. Could this (denial) be a result of ignorance? Could it be they are simply too ill informed or not capable of appreciating and understanding scientific fact? An aside commentary: On the latter question I highly doubt that if anyone of these individuals was afflicted with a death-causing disease they would shun relying on established (medical) science and seek alternative-fact based care.
Culture Informs Behavior
Or is it we’ve internalized capitalism’s requirement of material self-interest maximization that it is limiting our concern to caring solely about realizing as much material wealth as possible. If so, this is tantamount to an addiction whereby everyone and anything else matters little if at all. As noted in a previous post, “once people internalize the notion that self-worth equates to material worth, then unavoidably their sense of worth is always in doubt and they are perfectly positioned for capture and control by the system and its enterprises. It is a made-for-capitalism dissolutionary spiral involving attachment-addiction-alienation.”
In this capitalist culture money is (necessarily) the measure of all beings and things. Great wealth equates to greatness. Accordingly people unconsciously assume—without further thinking—that those who have oodles of money/wealth are the smarter ones among us. After all they’re the successful ones! Hence we tend to feel we must comply if not align with their values. With this being the case, it is no wonder we enable them to become our leaders, no matter how exploitative—of people and natural resources—their process of wealth accumulation!
Further with its precept of material self-interest maximization being fundamental and in turn the sole concern of its adherents being all about ‘me getting mine’, the system of capitalism places no attention on and no concern for the collective ‘We’. In other words, absent of care and concern for ‘We’ it is a system void of morality.
In this system we are directed to have concern for our own self-interest unimpeded by the possible effects of our actions on others. Studies have established that being among the wealthy increases one’s sense of privilege and the likelihood of narcissism and diminishes the likelihood of ethical behavior—money can and does spoil. Therefore, we ought to be very diligent when placing such individuals in a position of legitimate authority over even the smallest number of people—for there can be great harm to many.
Unfortunately, it is rarely if ever appreciated that a position of authority in the hands of a wealthy person void of a sense of morality (and its corresponding sense of universal caring) is as dangerous to others as is a knife in the hands of a child. There is plenty of evidence of this from big-business organizations behaving unethically, withholding knowledge about the dangers of their product or business practices (e.g. Big-Pharma, Big-Tobacco, Big-Oil, Big-Agriculture, Big-Finance, Big-Insurance) as well as from elected government officials (i.e. attending to the wants of the donor class instead of serving the needs of the general public). Yet we continue placing such people in positions of authority in the hope (misguided as it is) that those we deem successful will enable the same for us. A culture that places importance on things of outer value fosters a way-of-being and informs decision-making that diminishes the sustainability and viability of life.
The Needed Change
We hope for change, yet we don’t acknowledge the need to change ourselves! Following the same values in making our decisions will only lead us to the same experience, every time. So it appears we, in essence, are denying the sustainability and viability of life by holding on to our material self-interest way-of-being.
The way-of-being in capitalist society is all about ‘Me’ getting mine and to hell with expressing any sense of caring about ‘We’. Oh, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t groups of people who together strive for the same thing. Of course there are others with whom many of us share attitudes and beliefs—they are counted among ‘us’. And there are those with who such shared attitudes and beliefs are not evident—commonly referred to as ‘them’. In other words, our way-of-being creates an ‘us-versus-them’, an either/or mindset, as the attention causing struggle of life in capitalist society. This adversarial dichotomous way-of-being ensures people’s actions aren’t informed by their deep connectedness to all living beings—a sense universal caring, of ‘We’—but rather by fear of the other’s difference. As a result rarely do we experience harmony, collaboration, mutual support and the solidarity necessary to improve life in society for all—improving life not just for us but them too.
Imagine what would happen if we ceased cooperating with a system that is destructive to the viability of (our) life? The system would be unable to function. Yes, even a system that promotes competition between individuals requires the same individuals—those it is exploiting—to cooperate with it. Nothing can continue existing without cooperation: Cooperation is fundamental to life.
So if we care about the continuation—viability and sustainability—of society, which by the way is nothing less than the collective of individuals (I’s) forming ‘We’, then we best start cooperating with each other and embrace our ‘We-ness’. As Amitai Etzioni asserted, the ‘I’s’ need ‘We’ to be!
If you are a business owner or have an authority position in a business, then learn to understand that the conduct of business is a very human endeavor—it is personal, it is social. Place your humanity and that of those you touch into the very way you conduct business. Begin to relate to employees, customers and suppliers as human beings: As thinking/feeling people (individual I’s) just like you, not as objects (a.k.a. employees/labor, customers/revenue source and suppliers/labor) to be exploited and manipulated in service to your material gain.
Simply, the intent of (your) business needs to change! If you care about and honor life for all, it and you can no longer comply with the dictates of capitalism, an inherently destructive system of economics. Organize and manage for quality. A business committed to quality, to the full and deep meaning of quality is one that will further the progress of humankind as well as its long-term performance.
The conduct of business must contribute to human progress of society not its destruction through the unfettered pursuit of material growth. Commit to understanding that there is a difference between material growth and human progress—having more (stuff) is not synonymous with becoming more of what you potentially are. Learn to view the conduct of business as the means for enabling the development of people, with the work of the enterprise being the means to this end.
Quality is the manifestation of care and concern for the expression of human potential through one’s work—enabling a job to be a joy. Thus, quality is enabling the flow of the human spirit, and this is what people in management must get! Again and again Deming exclaimed the problem is management! And the problem with management is their materialist mechanistic worldview—the system of orientation informing capitalism—and its manifestation into humanly detrimental practices. Sustainable organizational performance is dependent upon the commitment to quality, a function of the prevalence of humanly productive relationships and not individuals meeting yearly numerical goals. By replacing fear-based practices with care-based practices, both people and the business will develop
If all that we realize through our work is an income, a paycheck, then we are being exploited. Though individuals bringing forth knowledge, skills and capabilities provide what is possible, the principle upon which a business is organized and managed determines what is probable. Disaster and destruction cannot be avoided if the principles upon which the enterprise is designed and managed are in disharmony with our very human nature and corresponding developmental needs. Integrating the needs of people—Maslow’s deficit and developmental needs—and the work of the enterprise is essential for the viability of humankind and the sustainability of society, not to mention the long-term success of the business.
Also the business minded care more about you as a customer than you as a fellow human being. However, there is one thing adherents to capitalism pay attention to, their revenue from customers. Your needs as a person don’t quite capture their attention as their need for material gain—connect for them the meeting of your human needs to their want (for profit). Do what you can to not support those enterprises that are detrimental to life and society—such as banks investing in life destructing enterprises, businesses that are exploitative of people and the environment.
So, if you are a customer/consumer—and who isn’t—then be morally responsible in patronizing those businesses that are morally responsible members of society. Become customers of those businesses that act responsibly as part of society not as if they are outside separate from and acting upon society. Support those businesses striving to maintain the viability of life and sustainability of society.
Be diligent in your search for these companies because the façade a business puts forth—the image they portray in advertising their socially responsible values and practices—is often what they want customers to think they are, not what they do and truly care about—Whole Foods is a case in point. Being the one requiring others to be morally responsible does not equate to one’s self being morally responsible.
Let’s agree to be diligent in being morally responsible in choosing who gets our business. Such action in the present just might avoid having to deal with change at its extreme when the needed changes will be more drastic and the likelihood of success will be far less.