Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mistaking the Cost of Living for Quality of Life

It takes more than warm weather to make a paradise. Paradise is mostly about culture, and the personalities that culture produces. A lot of self-absorbed people justify what they do as being for everybody else, when obviously, the only beneficiary is themselves -- at the expense of every other. But that does not prevent them in the least from thinking and talking about the great sacrifices they are making for everybody else. For such people, whatever they want , is the only justice, and there is no greater concept of societal good.

We see that in the thoughtless way people will enjoy a resource and then destroy it for the next guy -- or even how many think the roads and sidewalks are for their exclusive use only, and screw everybody else! Doing good only for one’s family and friends while having no consideration for any others, is not any better than doing these things only for oneself, because obviously, such acts are for one’s own benefit, in a more calculating way.

The beginning of enlightened civilization, is the thought that everybody deserves the good fortune and well-being equally with any other -- even if they will never meet or benefit from that contact -- and not just their own family and friends, they can control. That latter manner of thinking is still the primitive notion of society -- which perpetuates the injustices of present day Hawaii, even as the people in power, shifts every now and then. But always and still, there is that underlying injustice that as long as one’s friends and family is taken care of, one can remain in power (control) for as long as one can before it is noticed and arouses the next overthrow.

For that reason, tyrannies fall throughout the history of civilization and progress, and do not persist unchallenged throughout eternity. Better social arrangements arise to challenge them -- in their own way. The challenge to the old, is not just a challenge to see the new king of the same social and governmental arrangement. The real challenge to the old, is a whole new way of thinking about the social hierarchies and its perpetuated injustices.

That change is not merely political, but fundamental and transformational; that society is never the same, with only a discussion of the new personalities on top. That, fundamentally, doesn’t matter. Only deep, lasting change within the structure of society, is progress and improvement, and not simply consuming all society’s resources in the struggle to see who is on top. In such a culture, all the energies go to defeating all the other energies and efforts to get to the top. And so while the cost of such activities are high, escalating and unlimited, it does not result in an increased wealth of everyone contributing and being enriched by that participation in that culture.

Thus, increasingly many “drop out,” thinking it is no longer worthwhile to exert themselves for diminishing benefits. They are the proverbial “homeless,” as well as the many others who will leave in a more tangible and emphatic way. Demagogues may even encourage and foster the disenfranchisement of the least powerful into believing they have no right to expect any benefits in participating in that culture except to give them all their money -- and bring back more.

Those lessons are learned and reinforced early on, on the playgrounds of government schools, by bullies demanding “More,” increasingly and incessantly more, because they cannot share -- which is the value and measure of every great culture and society, and not simply how much everything costs, and therefore, how much one self-serving clique should be paid -- at the expense of everybody else.