We are in the midst of a battle for the direction of our nation, but nobody is actually talking about what truly ails us. The Republicans blame the liberals. The Democrats blame business. Some Conservatives blame the workers, the Blacks, the immigrants and the Muslims. But nobody is really looking at the whole and questioning the system. Even Bernie Sanders wants to curtail the excesses of capitalism, not replace it. And, in fact, hardly anybody is addressing the question of what COULD replace it? Those of us watching the behavior of nations who call themselves communists have seen the government taking on the role of individual owners, and nobody really wants more bureaucracy, inefficiency and corruption.
So we wander around wondering who to vote for, but no one is offering answers that really address the underlying issues we’re confronting. In fact, while everyone is pointing fingers at everyone for all that ails our society and our world, we could stop and ask ourselves why there are so many selfish, greedy corporations who don’t want to pay taxes and so many terrorists and so many misogynist men and so many manipulative children and so many entitled teens. And the list goes on. And it could look like the whole world is screwed up, and that would be true. Just because someone grew up poor doesn’t necessarily make them caring of others – though they are more likely to be philanthropic. And just because a woman is the CEO doesn’t mean she’s compassionate. And just because a person is gay doesn’t mean that they are in the Oneness with people of different races or religions or that they aren’t ready to attack people who care about social justice. And just because a guy is oppressed doesn’t mean he doesn’t beat his wife. Far from it.
So it’s fair to say that corporations are greedy, hide their assets, have been historically abusive to the environment and generally callous to workers and consumers when their financial interests are at stake. But we can’t act like they are the mean, crappy ones, as opposed to the rest of us. So what’s up with the human race?
We, Humanity, Have a Problem
It’s called ego, and we all have it. And the ego says “I” count and nobody else counts as much as I do. And that “I” can be an individual, a group, a race, religion, nationality or anything else. Whites defending whites. Muslims defending Muslims. Family feuds. Business competition. Students fighting to get in the best schools, men and women competing for a good catch, however that’s defined, and even Ivory Tower intellectuals competing for professorships. And so on and so on.
And even within groups, ego competition exists. Let’s look at the corporations for a moment. Are all the executives working for the good of the company? No. If they are likely to get a bonus for growing profits, they’ll do whatever it takes, even if it hurts the long-term interests of the company, its workers and consumers. And if they are planning to leave the company, the executive’s actions will be guided with an eye to looking good to the next employer. Company executives tend to compete with one another to get ahead, often deliberately if unconsciously undermining each other. And we haven’t even talked about their relationship with the managers and workers below them.
Competition is a normal attitude in a world where we have to kill to eat and resources are scarce. But even when we have enough to go around, the attitude is so embedded in our psyches, it seems absolutely natural. We can’t even think that there could be an alternative.
We need to understand the ego and how it operates if we are ever going to liberate ourselves from its domination. But few people are talking or thinking about it. For a detailed discussion of the ego and how it relates to our survival instinct, you can read “Ego, Instinct & Evolution,” the introduction to my book Living with Reality, which is a free download at my website, https://theinnerrevolution.org. But in a word, we are born with a sense of our selves as separate from one another. The infant doesn’t care if mommy is tired. She wants to eat NOW. But we are also born with a sense of Oneness. We feel each other’s pain. The question is: Which aspect of ourselves do we emphasize and develop? The answer is obvious. From the ways we compete with our siblings and even with our parents, from the ways we compete to get the best grades to get into the best schools to get the best jobs, from the ways we even relate to our love partners, life is a power struggle and we’re all hoping to either get on top or get the protection from whoever IS on top.
Capitalism & Ego
The capitalist system is deeply imbued with the ego ethic. It is based on competition, not cooperation. And ethical considerations are an afterthought. Like so many other social and economic systems, it is hierarchical by nature. I’m the owner. You’re the worker. And though I might like you, my needs come first and I’ll use my power to make sure that happens. Or I’m the employee. You’re the boss, and no matter how much I like you, I’m going to leave for the better job or try to squeeze from you what I can get, because I have a kid heading for college or a mortgage to pay. And companies compete for market share and investors. It’s endemic to the system.
We cannot continue to have an economic system based on ego and think we won’t be churning out little egos on the assembly line. Capitalism is based on ego and it embodies it. And where is the counterbalance? Our families, generally speaking, support the egoic way, because our parents are busily competing with each other and/or others. Our workplaces, our sororities, our school games – football, baseball, track – are all based on competition. And then there’s religion, where all too many of our religious teachers are preaching the superiority of OUR belief system, culture or ways.
We are inundated by a culture of ego, and we wonder what’s wrong. How could our politicians be so corrupt? How could political parties try to gerrymander? How could business try to suppress vital information on global warming? Because the ego focuses on its own needs, and we are dominated by ego.
We could change everything on the outside, but if we don’t change on the inside, we will replicate the same life-unaffirming existence. We could even change our economic system to a less competitive one, where cooperatives own workplaces and income inequality starts to shrink. But if we don’t confront the ego, then our coops can become as corrupt as our corporations. And we could collectively decide to exploit our neighbors, other species and the earth.
A Call for Inner Revolution
We need a revolution, all right. But we need a revolution on the outside and the inside. I call it the Inner Revolution. What could that look like?
It looks like a shift to thinking and feeling in terms of Oneness, Accountability and Mutual Support. And it’s not that tough to do. In fact, some of us are already doing it. And once we have shifted our approach, we can start looking at our world in a new way. We can examine every institution and activity of society to see whether it fosters love and cooperation or it fosters competition, exploitation, striving and neglect. In other words, does it support the ego or the whole?
And we could get specific. If we were acting out of Oneness, Accountability and Mutual Support, what industries would we need? How could they be conducted? How could we relate to others in the world? We could ask what advertising and the media are promoting. What paradigms we are teaching at home and in schools. What is our history in relation to other nations and how could we change. What is the reality in which we live, not just the stories we tell ourselves. And so on. This questioning is not the end, but it’s the necessary beginning.
But to do all this, we have to look within and be willing to toss out what we think we know and start from scratch. Do we have the guts, or will we continue to live in a way that is spiritually, emotionally and often physically destructive?
The 2016 election is not confronting these issues. We’re all still fighting for who is going to run the playground. But nobody is asking whether or not we want to get out of the playground and help build a new world. I do. If you’re interested in discussing this, let me know. Let’s turn this election year into a real turning point.
Beth Green is founder of TheInnerRevolution.Org and host of Inner Revolutionary Radio on VoiceAmerica.com. If you wish you continue this conversation, contact Beth via her website (www.theinnerrevolution.org). You can also download a free version of Beth’s book Living with Reality at www.theinnerrevolution.org. And follow us on Facebook at (www.facebook.com/theinnerrev), where we’re building an online community of people who want to change the world from the inside out.