Business Insider wrote that an Oxfam International report found that between March 18 and December 30, 2020, the wealth of the ten richest people in the world increased by $3.9 trillion. According to the report, this gain alone, which those ten people had made in less than ten months, “could pay for everyone to get vaccinated and stay out of poverty.” At the same time, the report estimates that “between 200 million to 500 million people may have fallen into poverty during 2020.” Does it really have to be this way?
Indeed, we have built a world that exalts nothing but money and power. Money grants power, which enables acquiring more money, which grants even more power, so in the end, money makes the world go ’round. And behind the zeal for money stands the ego, the engine that drives civilization. We have crowned the ego, let it build our society in its image, and now we’re paying the price for fawning on it.
Joe Biden plans to increase taxes on the rich in order to balance the load on the people and finance some of the financial toll wrought by Covid-19, but I don’t think it will work, not in a society where the rich are the powerful. If he goes too far, they can simply move him out of the way.
How long will money make the world go ’round? Until all of us understand that kowtowing to the ego is not the solution. Matters will keep going from bad to worse until we change our way of life, our state of mind, our motivation.
The only substitute for the ego, and which will create a world where we enjoy living, is love. That word, which we so readily disparage, is the only word we have to describe the most powerful force in existence: the power of giving. We may sneer at these words, ridicule and belittle anyone who merely brings up the notion of love or giving, but we’d be wrong to do so. Nothing is more powerful than love.
Think about this: Would you be here were it not for your parents’ love for you? Would this world be here were it not for the trillions of species that continually create and nurture their offspring? Despite the myriad destructive forces around us, life continues and even evolves because the power of life, the power to give and cultivate life, is stronger than all of them combined.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, this was also the situation in human society. But since then, the destructive forces of egoism in humanity have intensified to the point that they now pose an existential risk not only to our species, but to the whole planet. Now, we, humanity, must make a conscious effort to raise the power of love and giving above the power of the ego—the desire to take for myself whatever I can, however I can, and as much as I can.
The ten billionaires may be eye-catching examples of egoism, but if any one of us were in their shoes, we’d be the same and act the same as they do. The plague is in all of us, so only all of us can heal it. If we set our minds on it collectively, we can shift the paradigm from taking to giving, and become “parents,” progenitors of a world that operates on a new kind of fuel.
In the new world, no one will sit still until everyone is safe and cared for. Just as the whole body has no rest and no peace of mind unless all of its organs are well, so we will feel about every person in the world, that all are parts of me, and I cannot be at peace if everyone is not at peace.
Today, moving toward that mindset is a must. We have become so interdependent that unless we take care of everyone, everyone will suffer. If we take on this mindset, we will blossom. If we eschew it, then we have sealed our fate.
[Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington DC’s “Milestone Celebration Dinner” in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts]