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The Leading Edge – Where selfishness is there sacrifice shall be

We have met the enemy and it is us – Pogo

We have met the enemy and it is us – Pogo

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It is much easier to pull together when the enemy you have in common is them, than it is to pull together when the enemy you have in common is you.

In the late 1930s FDR’s New Deal did not truly pull us out of the Depression. It was the looming dark clouds of WWII. Then the Marshall Plan helped us rebuild what was destroyed and in the process create viable markets for U.S money, defense, products and supplies on which the rest of the world would then become dependent (and under our sway) for decades to come.

It was in fact that dependence that caused the rest of the world to bite their tongues as America became and acted more impudently, arrogantly and entitled. No one dared bite the hand that fed or protected them.

The threat of Communism also helped us pull together in the 1950s through 1970s. We got another quick taste of that on and after 9/11. However the threat of terrorism although a villainous blight on humanity is hardly a world war to galvanize against.

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As global communication has grown we see that the enemy love their children, they hurt from poverty and hunger, they fight disease and natural disasters, they have old who grow older, more feeble and dependent on increasingly fewer resources. It’s nearly impossible to externalize responsibility for your woes on an enemy who cares about the same things and is more similar to you than they are different.

The real enemy is the fact that human beings don’t see their fellow humans’ needs as valid as their own nor accept that the natural resources we all need to survive are exhaustible (and being exhausted). Instead they just take and take and take. Greed is expecting and taking more than you deserve and throwing the need to give back to the wind. The real challenge is to put the well being of our fellow man (woman and child) as a goal to aspire towards equal to our own and to replenish, restore and give back to the natural world when the human race has become a race of pillagers that are hell bent on sucking it dry.

To live with and give back to the world so that it will be there to support our children, their children and their children’s children requires us to not only do without so many things we have become addicted to, but to learn things that we have refused to learn — because learning was hard to do so, was boring AND we could get away with not doing it.

Years ago Sigmund Freud advised and admonished us with: “Where id (avaricious impulsivity) was, there shall ego (common sense and judgment) be.” As un-American as it might seem, Freud’s focus on the sanctity of the individual is possibly an idea whose time has come and gone. For the good of you and me and all of us, we’d do better to follow this proviso: “where selfishness and greed were there shall generosity and sacrifice be.”

It shouldn’t be all that difficult doing with less. After all, we weren’t that satisfied, happy and content with more.

About the author

Mark Goulston, M.D. is the Co-Fonder of Heartfelt Leadership a global community whose Mission of Daring to Care it dedicated to identifying, celebrating, developing and supporting heartfelt leaders who are as committed to making a difference as they are to making a profit.

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