Time to Get Together?

February 1, 2004

Something totally exceptional occured today: strangers were talking to each other and helping each other out to get their cars moving in the snow circus. Hard times make people come together. The same happened in 9/11 and in many other occasions.

I wonder when the times are “bad” enough for all of us to put our act together. If you cannot see any reason here’re a few reminders of our totally perfect world:
– every day some 24.000 people are starving to death
– hundreds if not thousands are killed every day for various causes (terrorism, anti-terrorism, death penalties, murders, wars, politics…)
– huge number of world’s population is living in poverty, fear and constant struggle of everyday life
– the environment is exhausted at ever increasing pace without caring about the global consequences:

rain forest are teared down by the rate that cannot be replaced by any plantations (it takes time to grow!)
– seas are overfished by all the possible coastal nations
– agriculture is using more and more chemicals to boost the production
– animals are fed with antibiotics and other chemicals to grow faster and become better food products
– manufacturers are moving their production to the third countries where the environmental restrictions are lighter or non-existing
– our consumption is dumped to wastelands which are getting bigger and bigger every year
– wild life is destroyed and killed for living, for fun, and mainly by pure ignorance

I feel so proud to be part of the human nature. We live so naturally!

I know – you have heard this over and over again. This is not the point. My main concern is why we are allowing all this to happen. Why are we closing our eyes and pretending that none of this is happening? Actually we are resisting and fighting against everything and everyone who is telling purely the objective observations. Those are called the activists and scientists with wrong results (i.e. almost like terrorists)… Indeed they are. They are the main threats for our current irresponsible life style and profit making machine (governments included). In economics these effects are called as negative externalities. Those are the things that fall between the interest groups but concern everyone: clean air, sea with fish, secured daily bred and butter for everyone, peace…

Next thing you are going to say is that I know all of this but I’m powerless, I cannot do anything. Well, miracles happen. And usually they happen when enough people have had enough of the current state of affairs. You simply start from the square one and change your own behaviour. One has to do the difference, and be an example. Others will follow – one by one. The only thing that we have to change is our own thinking. We just thinking differently (see the world differently), and act accordingly. This can happen fast. Look Atkins Diet it’s starting to change even industry dynamics.

At least I’m shamed of our behaviour. We are creating the future everyday and just look the legacy of our children. It does not look that rosy. Lots of waste and troubles ahead. In addition we’re spending more than we are earning – next generations will also pick up the bill for the increased social and healthcare expenses as well as the pension costs for baby boomers 🙂

I wonder when has it come to this point that the truth is the evil, and the betrayal and self denial have turned to the greatest truth. We are living longer and having more possessions than ever. Still we are not enjoying ourselves – totally the opposite. Maybe the happiness does not come with owning more? Here’s an example of a potential paradigm change: Let’s get rid of the concept of ownership.

Wait – I’m not out of my mind. I’m still in the business and want to make money (actually lots of it). But I want to make it the right way. The way that I can say hello to the guy looking back to me in the mirror every morning. Ownership is only the means, not the objective. But the concept creates a lot of bad effects. Look back in the history and see the white man owning the black men as slaves. How about owning animals …wife and kids…etc. De facto we don’t own anything, it’s just an illusion. We just take care of things (like the Patek Phillippe ad says). A bank manages the depositors money, they don’t own them (at least morally that is). If one does not like the management company and its policy you withhold the rights and shift your business elsewhere. We don’t own the nature. We just take care of it. This is exactly what goverments should be doing. They should be the project managers and licensors for issues that concern our common good and mutual benefit (externalities). They set the rules and overall responsibilites. It’s always good that there is someone who’s monitoring one’s behaviour. That’s why the company structure consist of shareholders, board of directors and operational management. Currently this is not happening. Our perception of the concept ‘owning’ is twisted. It’s an illusion that will not last. Gradually we are destroying ourselves, everyday. And still we are the ones who can make the difference. Who’s behind the goverments, the companies, and the consumers? It’s us, individuals, together – as a group, aggregated.

BTW, who would be so crazy to eat artificial and synthetical chemicals, even poisons, day in and day out causing health problems in the long run which in turn will be cured by more artificial drugs? Our eating habits of agricultural products and live animals are exotic, even strange by some standards…

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