As compassion levels drop, so do levels of exploitation rise. And as a backlash from the world’s citizens threatens to upset the status quo as we know it – with angry fingers being pointed collectively at ‘greedy’ banks, corporations, industry and ‘corrupt’ and ‘out of touch’ politicians and governments, CEOs and magnates – we must surely look in to other reasons why we became so obsessed with money: to the point where some of us will stop at nothing to get our hands on it.
Modern society is very disconnected. Whether its because of technology, disparity between the rich and the poor, a lack of time to spend socialising (as most continue over-working themselves, in the endless pursuit of money) or some state-driven fear of each other, we are noticing each other less and less, interacting – even on a most basic level – full of inhibition and judgment, assumption and close-mindedness. Its sad. But this is merely a matter of observation.
A friend of mine said to me recently ‘you should say something to every person who you make eye contact with‘. But most days, if you make eye contact with someone, a quick glance away is the most you’ll get – that’s if they weren’t approaching you and making sure to be looking down to avoid any such human contact. Passing them on the street was enough.
Its the old-timers who you can be more confident about getting a friendly nod from on the street but even now, a whole rampart of scare-tactics has made them pretty quick on the look-away as well. And all too often am i left saying “hey mate” to nobody but myself, or waving to ghosts, apparitions, there was never anyone there. Its strange.
I wonder how many dogs, or birds, or spiders, or insects, goats, cows, cats, fish, butterflies, bacterium, ants, pass each other – somewhere – and just ignore the fact that ‘hey, im a dog too!‘ or ‘tweet! – i dont know what you’re doing here, cos ive never seen you before but – tweet tweet poo-tee-weet tweet!’ … Its strange.
Maybe we’re the only species with egos big and twisted enough to think that such a simple acknowledgement of a mutual existence may actually be a Machiavellian move to get in someone’s pants, or stop them for an awkward conversation, or trick them into opening their wallet, dancing with you, buying a watch, lending you their phone or giving you a piece of change? Or worse still, i could be a rapist. Well-versed in the subtle art of ‘conversation before attack’...
Such a disconnect makes it easier to forget the thread that connects us all. It makes it easier to push compassion for our species aside, and climb over those who may stand in the way of what we want… What we’re told we ‘need’… And we even lose sight of why we should care about the very entity that is sustaining us all.
Because only ‘I’ matter. Only ‘I’ and ‘my’ problems exist, in ‘my’ world. Come on now, would a dog really eat a dog? Really? Even if they knew that the world of dogs would be so much better, if they all got along?
The ‘greedy banker‘ walking down the street, knows in his mind, however true, that this ‘long-haired hooligan‘ isn’t even worth the welfare he’s collecting. Maybe he even uses his assumptions to justify his greed. And by the same token: the ‘dole-bludging surfer‘ who passes the banker on the street mutters to himself as he walks away about how much of a ‘greedy piece of shit‘ anyone wearing a suit happens to be, as it emboldens his stance against ‘them‘. We blame each other, because of our ignorance, our fears.
Ignorance: It’s the same reason that those fighting greed are sometimes termed ‘useful idiots‘, and the same reason why social activists are full of blame. How productive. How proactive. What a solution!! Maybe if we sling so much mud, we’ll bury each other?
So why have we become so obsessed with money? Maybe we were forced to? Maybe ‘society‘ said that we need this, and need that, and the ‘system‘ we live in forced us into the position we’re in – trapped in a paradigm that we cant do anything about.
Hang on a second though, you havent even bothered to learn about society. You havent even bothered to connect to it, truly. You can’t even look the people in the eye who you’re standing alongside, and fighting this fight with. You cant even look the people in the eye, who you are fighting for. Isn’t that everybody? – Where’s the love? We’re not obsessed with money, we’re obsessed with ourselves.
The guy offering free hugs is a weirdo. The person handing out bunches of herbs and veg in the city has poisoned them. The girl lying helplessly, unconscious at the bus shelter isn’t worth stopping for. Never mind the old lady struggling up the stairs. We must fight to get to the bar. We must fight to get on the bus. Why should i return the money he dropped? Or let him in to the flow of traffic? Or hold the door? Or offer my seat? I’m in a hurry! .. Why even care about our planet, if nobody else does? ..
Sun Tzu, in his classic political treatise ‘The art of war’ said: “Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered”. If this really is a battle, then we fail to even consider our enemy, and we fail to even consider each other – ourselves.