01 Dec 2009
CORPORATE GREED is everywhere these days, from the excesses of Enron to the bonus culture of the collapsing banking industry. It has become an easy and obvious target on which to hang the responsibility of all society's ills and global ecological disaster.
Of course, just because it is an easy target does not mean it isn't a legitimate target. Corporate greed is most definitely a problem — a very very big problem.
But there is an even bigger problem: personal greed.
Corporations, like governments, are made out of people — ordinary people like you and me — but in extraordinary positions of power and responsibility. And people change when they are put in those sorts of positions.
You can afford to be moralistic when you have much money or power. After all, being integrous is a wonderful compensation for the ego when it can't be rich and powerful. And I am sure you have witnessed how that integrity can quickly evaporate when circumstances change. Even political parties out of power tend to me far more moralistic than parties in power.
We live in a capitalistic society where we believe that healthy competition between individuals and corporations is necessary to bring out the best. We are encouraged to think of self ahead of society; to think of our families ahead of our communities; and to think of our nation ahead of the human race and global ecology. Our society has become a lose affiliation of individuals, individuals indoctrinated from birth to fight for for limited resources, resources which in turn will define our societal worth.
And we wonder why corporations seem to be so greedy! That greed we see is only a projection of the festering greed and insecurities in our own hearts. The only way to stop corporate greed is to stop personal greed, and the only way to do that is to change our educational programs so that children no longer view the world in terms of competition.
How do we set up a society that is not founded on competition and still have it be productive? Is it possible? And what do we actually mean by "productive" and do we really want/need "productive" society? Can we change our collective paradigm of "individuality" which is a necessary prerequisite for competition?