by Umair Haque
Based on Rivalry
Lord of the Flies...
Today, high school students across America are walking out.
But let's remember exactly why. Because their elders have allowed gun massacres at schools - and appear totally unmotivated or unmoved to change it.
Hence, it's left to the
vulnerable - kids - to fend for themselves. Pull yourself up!! How
Lord of the Flies...
Americans have been taught to see one another as rivals - because the idea was that way, everyone would pull themselves up. Rivals, everywhere, in everything. Whether at work, in life, or at play. It is something like the most rivalrous society that has ever existed.
But that led to a catastrophic outcome:
And a society, economy, and democracy cannot function that way.
There are better ways.
Now, she's great at what she does - really. She's never once had "negative feedback" in her life - she was shocked. But that's because she's from Canada.
I had to explain to her:
And so these "review"
systems quite obviously don't work in America - its leaders are
nothing of the kind, of the lowest calibre imaginable, whether in
business, politics, law, or media.
Let me make it clearer.
American thinking suggested the following outcome:
But it forgot one crucial detail. There are two ways to compete. By pulling yourself up - dragging others down.
Now, which is less costly - which one requires less effort, time, imagination? Which only takes brutality, muscle, and cunning? Pulling others down, obviously. You can pull people down with a tug or a punch.
But lifting yourself up? You have to fight gravity. You have to find a foothold. You have to look up and be blinded by the sun.
In other words, you need empathy, compassion, grace, and courage. How much easier to just pull down.
The economics are simple:
And so the result is now. A society of people forever pulling one another down, just like crabs in the proverbial bucket, each one trying to escape - but only ensuring none go anywhere.
Lord of the Flies -
An atmosphere of cruelty
is produced when life becomes rivalry - but nothing can really
function amid such absolute cruelty, not even basic things like
performance reviews, let alone democracy, society, or the economy.
Society depends not on rivalry, either, but on people crafting a fair and expansive social contract, that provides everyone some minimum level of well-being - otherwise, a society is broken by definition.
And you think an economy depends on bitter, bruising rivalry - that's what American thinking says, after all - but you, and it are wrong:
transformative ways - not just those that please a Jeff Bezos
or Elon Musk or Zuck's quarterly profit
What has all that been replaced with? Well, what is a life of such constant, intense, bitter rivalry like?
Well, it means that everyone in your life is an adversary, opponent, or enemy - though you might call them your colleague, peer, coworker, classmate, they are really just your rival.
So you don't really friends - hence, "frenemies"; you don't really do work of service, your primary goal is to compete; that you measure yourself by how many people you have defeated, bested, and thrown down - not by how meaningful, rich, and worthwhile your life really is.
A life of rivalry is full
of stress, pressure, fear, and misery. One quickly becomes paranoid,
fragile, bitter, and toxic.
To be cunning, ruthless,
and deceitful is always easier than being compassionate, gentle,
courageous, and strong.
That is what happened elsewhere - in nations that developed expansive social contracts, with healthcare, education, retirement, etcetera, and now live vastly longer, happier, saner, healthier lives.
Remember those poor high
school kids, left to fend for themselves? Exactly...