Saturday, June 16, 2012
Questioning the Pyramid
So many of the problems that face us now could be seen as too few people having too much power. Major money movers can devastate whole territories, climates and lives, pollute the area, close the factory and defend the ruination caused saying it’s good for their stockholders. Power brokers in front of and behind the scenes make decisions with negative effects on large populations and dismiss it as the cost of doing business. Just a few people weren’t destined to have so much power. In the history of kings and emperors are myriad selfish decisions that disregarded the harmony of the whole in favor of competing for more control and resources. The pressure to keep up was bad for them too, a kind of slavery to the contest. An executive involved in large scale fraud, being interviewed on “American Greed” CNBC, said he felt so much more free in jail than he did locked into the complexities of a many layered deception that disregarded entirely all the people they were defrauding of their life savings. We have to question a worldview that puts so much more value on money than human individuals and the ecosystem we all share. The growth of a new elite society of the rich may be behind the increasing use of the phrase “little people” and “small people” by the media and celebrities. It shows how distant the elite feel from the rest of humanity. The biggest person in my life’s memory was a woman named Katy Phair, a person who saw into the depths of people and could love them with all their flaws and make them feel seen and accepted, a connecting force for everyone around her. What inspires love is far more important to the world and it’s future survival than competition to have the most money and power. That seems to bring out the worst in people, and we have choices about which aspects of our character we choose to cultivate. I think the “Little Man” referred to in Wilhelm Reich’s book with that name refers to the ignoble and petty instincts in us all that require strength of character to resist. As the “I Ching” says in many ways, character is not a given, but needs to be developed by strengthening positive qualities. Looked at this way, the struggle for money and power can be seen as a form of weakness. The word “decentralization”, has been popping up lately, most recently I heard it on NPR in regard to the size of banks. The small community bank once felt a more personal responsibility to the people it served. Some of my husband’s best memories from his childhood were when he and his father would go out fishing with his father’s boss. Virtue is the by-product of connection. We get endorphins from both. The days when the company was like a family weren’t bad for business (unless business is only defined by profit), and it was a way of life where people mattered. It’s not really an unreasonable idea to set limits on how big a corporation can be, how much money an individual can make. It would eliminate the competitive greed that’s been tearing up world economies. The maxim, “it takes a village to raise a child”, is one expression of a value system within a community where everyone’s aware of and concerned about every other member. It’s a structure where each person has a role, and is attentive to responsibility within the whole. The organic structure builds on our innate sense of what creates harmony and pain and how to fit into unfolding events. Our current culture of experts at the top telling us what’s good for us interferes with cultivating awareness and personal judgment based on that instinct. Just as the Internet has shown how well decentralization of information can work and provide a medium for growth, we can find smaller, more organic models that are attuned to the regions they inhabit and the expertise of the people involved. There’s talent out there being crushed by the pyramid. It will take all of us working together to build a new image.