By Henry Ramsey
Of paramount importance and relevancy to true and lasting human accomplishment is the way we deliberate between short term gain and long term accomplishment. The overriding consideration must be our degree of thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness means an honest examination of the desired objectives over time. It means adherence to the primary value of truth while addressing perceived short term needs, without distorting the long term goals. Those trusted with overseeing the mission must be ever vigilant in not allowing principle to yield to exigency, especially when the wiles and demands of the surreptitious or loud and aggressive are insinuating themselves into the mix for personal gain.
If the self interested are allowed to dominate or eclipse principle through corrosive influence, the consequent decline in overall diligence becomes the acceptable norm. Capitalism today, the most pervasive and influential system in industrialized society, has become a predominant fixture in perpetuating this decline. International conglomerates wield unchallenged power over people and nations only to satisfy their own narrow ends, with no regard for external ramifications, yet they survive and flourish essentially unfettered and unchallenged.
Corporations today are predominately fixated on stock price and maximizing profit. In a small town where scale is manageable and knowable, a business realizes is place, role and efficacy in the economy of the area. It needs a profit to survive, a condition understood and accepted, but kept in balance by the ethics, wherewithal and means of the community. In a healthy environment, it is a contributing member of the whole in both usefulness and service adding to the overall welfare and ambiance of the community. Corporations on the other hand lavish outrageously excessive rewards on the higher-ups while they in turn establish destructive precedents that compensate managers for short term results; treat employees as easily expendable pawns, and sacrifice substance to image enhancement. Products and services possessing intrinsic significance become irrelevant. Hyped value with no regard to consequence, but profitable, is the primary consideration.
Corporations dominate the landscape. The majority of us toil in increasingly meaningless, stressful and time demanding occupations, with credit and consumption heralded by the mass media our reward. A relentless barrage of commercial miasma invades our psychic at every venue, branding their version of morality into the fabric of our daily lives. Image makers, indiscriminately selling manufactured desire, have elevated the irresponsible personality to social prominence, even hero worship.
Without intervention, and none appears likely, the declining circumstance of all our lives will continue to deteriorate as greed and intolerance perpetuates itself. Fateful decisions should not be made in a vacuum by people with vested interests, which unfortunately is exactly the situation we now find ourselves in. We have abdicated our intuitive duty to build a more sustainable existence by giving power over our lives to the purveyors of fear and greed.
In a perverted antithesis to the quest to find meaning in the world, mass media advertising is providing manufactured identity, through product worship, to target audiences, most egregiously to the young and searching. Mass marketers cater to moral insecurity and foster irresponsibility through aggrandizement of inane idols. They endorse and promote immediate gratification and intimidation through peer pressure. They supplant the quest for substance and meaning with drivel and triviality. In attempts to appear righteous they unabashedly employ insidious public relations tactics to play on emotion or loyalties. The absurd and demeaning circumstance of popular culture shows how much we hunger for access to meaning within ourselves, and how far short we have fallen in attempting to find it.
Most of us go about life as though meaning where something outside of us, the purview of philosophers or poets. We focus on results with little regard for process. Our present mind set and world view of exploitation and quick fixes, without regard for resource husbandry or spiritual interconnectedness, has gained us temporal abundance but depressing materialism and its attendant waste. Individual freedom is now overshadowed by individualistic irresponsibility; decency corrupted by self-righteousness and moral superiority. We confuse justice with revenge, accept the decline of authenticity, and support the misconception that fear can be overcome by preemptive violence.
We have evolved to the point in time where we should be utilizing every means and opportunity available to us to intensify the search for meanings within the interconnected whole. But there is no venue or leader or guiding principle that can be trusted to launch such a campaign. Because of our pragmatic approach to life, we no longer have authentic heroes, heroes with any transcending relevance, to show us the way either in parable or deed. We have been reduced to contrived and orchestrated mass adulation for anti intellectual success icons, race car drivers and ball players. We seek to mark time with trivial diversions with no inkling or thought to embarking on a hero's journey to forge a sustainable new paradigm world view, or to explore the spirit within.
Mankind needs and seeks to find meaning, but settles for beads and trinkets. It can only be through widespread thoughtfulness on an individual level, focusing on things that have intrinsic value, that we can hope to regain some semblance of authenticity in our lives.