In my previous article last Saturday,, I wrote about healthy competition and unhealthy competition. The former recognizes the value of each person in terms of what values they can contribute to others and to society. The latter is an ego-based pursuit that is based on casting aside the competitors (and every one else).
In today’s materialistic world, this has manifested in some extremely harmful behaviours. These behaviours have somehow become entrenched in our individual, social, cultural, organizational and national conscience. How did this come about? And what can be done to bring it under control and mitigate it?
There seem to be two root causes which shape our harmful behaviour in our social, cultural, organizational and national expressions – one, our inability to distinguish between need and want; and two, the diminishment of the incorporation of spiritualand moralvalues in our lives.
These have so deeply infiltrated into our conscious and subconscious mind from a very young age, that they have become part of our every day normal life. And it does not matter what socio-economic strata of society we come from. Sometimes we are under the misconception that only a small segment of society actually practices unhealthy competition – those who have climbed to the top of the corporate ladder, or have become wealthy through devious means, or have become political leaders by stoking fear and hatred. In reality, every one of us is under the grips of these two enormous negative influences.
Our inability to distinguish between need and want is influenced from a very young age through constant bombardment from media and extremely clever marketing/sales. The latter is fairly easy to understand; who hasn’t heard of the phrase “the most successful genius of a salesman is one who can sell a comb to a bald man”? If this seems outdated, just look at how many products are being marketed today that claim to make you younger, healthier, wealthier, happier, more successful, etc. etc. And look at the enormous amount of money being spent by ordinary people that actually believe in these marketing and sales ploys – even the outlandish ones.
What role does the media play? Just notice what and who is glorified by the media. Notice the extremely high proportion of trivial material, sometimes cloaked as “information”, that is propagated through the media.
We can take an active role in addressing both root causes to mitigate our harmful behaviour. We can start paying attention to what we buy, what we consume, what we discard after very little use. Then we can reduce our wasteful behaviour which is actually a display of our desire to have “more than what others have”.
Bringing spiritual and moral values into our lives requires a little more effort. With the global move away from religious societies and towards secular societies, the learning of spiritual and moral values also has been diminishing. The unfortunate past oppressiveness of religions has created a backlash which has over-reached and created this situation with a vacuous moral environment.
Not only do we individuals need a strong revival of incorporating moral and spiritual values into our lives, but also a concerted effort to ensure that the same revival is applied to communities, and demanded of political and corporate leaders and influencers.
We had many visionary leaders in the twentieth century and earlier, but this new twenty-first century era seems to be devoid of such charismatic and influential leaders that can bring about great positive changes in our societal, cultural, organizational, political and national behaviours.
Let us hope and pray for such a leadership.
But at the same time, let us make every effort individually and collectively to keeping our spiritual and moral standards high, and pass on the same to the generations to come. Only then can we have some hope that truly disastrous future outcomes such as catastrophic effects of climate change, unthinkable global financial meltdowns, mutual annihilation attempts by nations with inflexible ideologies, violent social upheavals caused by extreme concentration of wealth and property in a few hands (this is happening already in many places around the globe), or the demise of nature and a large percentage of animal and plant species, can be avoided.
Let us start today. Let us start now. For there is not even a moment to lose in this monumental challenge and effort.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE