Gender, race, religion... all have had their time in the spotlight and we've sometimes made strides in bridging those divides, sometimes not. But the overarching problems of the world will continue to drive us toward oblivion if we don't wake up to the underlying psychology of greed that predominates. This study (link to summary video at bottom of this post) seems to show that greed, entitlement, generosity and lack of compassion are inextricably linked. Not surprising perhaps, but what is surprising is that it seems to be hard-wired. This is undoubtedly a product of our evolution up to now. As Buckminster Fuller put so eloquently:
"We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist."
Our only salvation, individually and collectively, is a return to original child-like curiosity and grace - an unrelenting commitment to asking ourselves "what makes me come alive?" accompanied by an unrepentant commitment to following that bliss. And this has to be accompanied by an acceptance that everyone else has a right to follow their bliss (within reason of course - I'm not suggesting anarchy, and one's own bliss cannot harm or impede another's pursuit of their bliss). Therein lies the rub - how to convince those who already have wealth that their happiness will actually increase if they share it.
I heard an item on the radio yesterday about how top hairstylists in New York are now charging $1200 for a haircut and style. They offer a $200 discount if their apprentices do the blow-drying. My initial reaction was "Really? This is what we've become?" I can't fathom how one can come to the point where they justify this kind of expense. But then again I've never been wealthy. So I'll step off the self-righteous soapbox and realize that I'm actually part of the problem. How generous am I? Am I as kind, compassionate, and generous as I can be?
Generosity is a muscle, and it can atrophy or strengthen and lengthen, just like any muscle. So how do we get millionaires and billionaires on the "mat" to try on these new ways of being? I don't have the answers. I notice the huge tide of sentiment pushing us all along towards self-interest and wonder how to overcome that wave.
Until I find a way to quell that tide, I surf. And in that surfing, I begin to discover that I am not just a drop in the ocean as Rumi says, but also the ocean in a drop.
The only way to reverse deep patterns is to first become conscious of them, notice their effects on ourselves and others, and then try on different ways of being, become conscious of those effects, and so on. Every Sage across every age has told us the only way we can be in line with our true nature is to be generous and kind. Everything else creates tension, resistance, destructive patterns. When I figure out how to deal with those patterns within myself, I move the entire ocean of humanity (and indeed the planet) towards a calmer, kinder, more welcoming and sustainable future. And that future is perhaps a long way off. Several lifetimes in all likelihood. But it's worth the slog, because the alternative is an endless cycle of suffering for all.
To become aware of this cycle is conscious evolution, beyond Malthusian-Darwinian theory. And it starts with just noticing. Wherever, whenever. On the mat, off the mat - how does it feel when I do "X" and what are the effects on those around me, and on the planet?
Video Link: Money On The Mind?