Much of the ongoing debate in political, business and social/cultural arenas is rooted in an underlying disagreement about what best serves national interests and individual lives. Is it promoting the common good, or serving self-interest?
As interdependence and interconnection on this planet become ever-more apparent, new challenges and conflicts arise for personal life, the role of government and the conduct of business leadership. In response to these new realities, people’s attitudes and behavior are shifting more towards serving the larger common good; now necessary for successful, flexible and psychologically resilient functioning.
However, these shifts clash with a long-prevailing ideology, that the primary pursuit of self-interest best serves the public interest and personal success. That ideology has also prevailed in our views of adult psychological health and maturity. In essence, the pursuit of greed, self-centeredness and materialism have become the holy trinity of public and private conduct. And it’s generating a growing “social psychosis.”
That is, the benefits of self-interest in personal lives and public policy supposedly trump any that accrue from serving the common good; the latter would undermine the former, if put into practice. For example, the argument against helping the unemployed, extending health insurance for all Americans or addressing climate change is that they would hurt the economy and therefore negatively impact your well-being and life success.
To question or critique this ideology might even be called “un-American.” That would be correct; a good thing, actually, because the values and conduct that seem to have “worked” for so long now falter in today’s rapidly changing world. No longer do they ensure long-term success, well-being or security. Several observers have written about the faltering of the old system in today’s world. For example, Jeff Jarvis of CUNY, who has written about a
…great restructuring’ of the economy and society, starting with a fundamental change in our relationships — how we are linked and intertwined and how we act.
Or Umair Haque, who has been describing
…the new principles of a new economy, built around stewardship, trusteeship, guardianship, leadership, partnership.
in his Harvard Business School blog posts.
The Social Psychosis Backlash
The reaction to the growing interconnection is a creeping “social psychosis.” Like the frog in the pot of water who doesn’t notice the slowly rising temperature Continue reading