Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is community actually more exciting than being an economic hit man?


Yes, someone actually asked me that.

Some people really love the largeness of the game of corporatocracy. They subscribe to the Ayn Rand philosophy that a small handful of individuals are just bigger and better than everybody else and they therefore have the right to play the game however they want to. Joe Sixpack is content to go to work and then drink beer and watch TV on the weekend. That's why it's ok to sell him toxic food, shelter, water and energy (and everything else). Those little guys are not really as important as the game we're playing, us big boys.

I'm not going to question the merits of Ayn Rand's philosophy. What I will question is - "If ya'll are so big and so smart and superior, why can't you come up with a better game?" Poisoning the earth and your fellow human beings is a pretty sorry excuse for one, really, because you're trying to destroy the playing field!

Can you imagine Shaq going out on the court with cleats that ripped up that beautiful wood flooring so everybody was tripping over it? Or maybe a spike in his hand that deflated the ball? What is exciting about that? If he did that, you would think he was crazy, right? Maybe you would want to forcibly remove him from the court, even.

Well, anybody who is observing what is going on thinks that the big boys and what they're doing is crazy too, because it is.

Some of the guys who are creating the most damage are getting genuinely scared, with the growing evidence about climate change and the degraded state of key aspects of our environment (like soils, water supply, etc). But they want to keep their unworkable game intact, somehow. They are just trying to slow down the destruction, so the game lasts longer. Which of them is saying, "No guys, sorry, we have to change the whole structure of the game, because it's a losing game, and everybody including us loses." Nobody wants to make that call, nobody wants to be the one that points that out. Nobody wants to confront what would actually have to happen to make the game last long enough for the next dozen or one hundred or more generations to enjoy it. If I'm wrong about that, and there is a member of the powers that be who is actually suggesting we scrap our failing cultural design and substitute a better one, I would truly love to hear about it!

Only when those people in real positions of power become willing to change the rules of the game so that life can truly prosper on this planet, will they become an asset instead of a liability. It really doesn't matter how great your abilities are, if you are using them to destroy the game for the rest of us, you are a party-pooper, a petty tyrant, a wet blanket. It is an illusion that you will lose by doing the right thing - you have everything to gain.

Some of the radical changes that are needed (minimally) would be:

1. Regulations that enforce true costs of doing business on those who are profiting from that business instead of passing those costs covertly to others (like our children). An example would be charging big agriculture to clean up dead zones in the Gulf caused by chemical run off from their fields. There is nothing that would motivate business faster to get clever about finding sustainable solutions.

2. Laws that effectively penalize those who destroy or compromise natural resources that all of us depend on (like water resources)

3. A change in economic statistical measurements - a GDP that shows a country is "doing well" when it is going broke from fighting wars and raping its future resources, and profiting from the sickness of its citizens is not a workable way to measure economic progress.

There are many more points, but this gives an idea.

Some people just don't see how they could play the game any other way. They are so stuck in it, they can't get outside and look. The first step to getting out is to consider that there may actually be ways to play the game without destroying the playing field. These are things you haven't necessarily thought of yet, but those possibilities exist, nonetheless, and can be discovered with enough intention and willingness to explore those realms.

It may involve changing some structures and activities pretty radically. That could involve some chaotic moments, a willingness to experience change, a willingness to reach beyond one's comfort level and to confront things none of us wants to confront. It doesn't mean, however, that you have to give up the size of game you want to play. If anything, you could have an even more rewarding and challenging game by making it more of an ethical game. There is no need to feel that you are going to lose your ability to play an utterly engrossing and fulfilling game by keeping the playing field there for the rest of us!


It may seem like there is a lot to lose by truly and honestly looking at what it would take to play a game that doesn't mess up the playing field. But there is far more to gain.


No comments: