Comfort is the Culprit

Us progressives - we who claim to know the direction civilization should be heading - undermine our very own causes by attributing the world's ills to greed. We are so ready to tag others as mean-spirited that we miss our mark completely. This reasoning contradicts the optimism we are destined to convey. I mean, if you truly believe most of the people you meet and have dealings with everyday are evil, then you have larger fish to scale, bread, and fry.

Our society's current decline has less to do with avarice than with our inherent craving for stability and comfort. Instinctually, we work to provide ourselves and our families with the necessities of life: food, shelter, and clothing. Once we have those bases covered, we begin building reserves, whether its firewood for a long winter or college tuition for a growing child. Regardless, we want to be prepared for whatever may come. No one has to be reminded that starvation hasn't been eradicated, even in this land of prosperity.

And this is where things go awry. We allow ourselves to be convinced by AdverMedia that what we have just isn't enough. We need to dedicate some, if not all of our reserves to The Next Big Thing: toys and gadgets and cars and boats and planes and islands... oh my.

But that's OK because we're taught spending benefits us all. And we can always make more money. It just requires working harder, building our team, advancing in the company and accomplishing all of these goals that are more or less admirable and in our nature. So our corporations grow and everyone has a job and we're doing good things, right? Right?

All of this happens incrementally, ratcheting the cost of the Good Life up and up. It's the sound of an auctioneer chanting prices to infinity. Although obvious to some, it is almost imperceptible to the average ear, especially the ear of someone who benefits from such a system.

After all, the typical person doesn't wake up in the morning and get motivated out of bed by the chance to screw someone over, to do others harm. Quite the opposite. They don't even want to know about the suffering that is taking place elsewhere. It's just too unsettling.

These folks merely want to put in a good day's work and then come home to loved ones who appreciate them and their efforts. They don't equate their desires with greed. And until we recognize this, we will be shouting at people who believe we have mistaken them for someone else.